NORWALK – Two of the more difficult accomplishments at Saturday’s CIF Southern Section Divisional Track and Field Championships at Cerritos College are to win a title and advance to the following week’s elite Masters Meet back in Norwalk.
The local quartet of Crescenta Valley High, Flintridge Prep, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy and St. Francis sent a large contingent, but only a few extended their seasons past the weekend.
The Flintridge Prep boys’ program may have done best overall, taking third in Division IV, while producing the area’s only two champions in Alan Yoho and Barrett Weiss, while junior Gareth Weiss joined his brother in qualifying to the Masters along with Crescenta Valley’s Megan Melnyk.
The brother duo of Barrett and Gareth kicked off the qualifying and championship action when the pair became the only two competitors to advance past 14 feet, 3 inches in Division IV, as each attempted to hit 14-9.
Gareth won the title, needing one fewer attempt to reach 14-9 than Barrett, who owns the school record of 15-1.
The title is the second for Gareth Weiss, who also won the crown in 2012 after tying with his brother with a mark of 12-9.
“I didn’t set a new record, but I’m happy with the result,” Gareth Weiss said. “I feel very happy with this.”
Despite coming up short, there were no hard feelings from Barrett, who described the sibling rivalry as “a friendly competition.”
It was nearly six hours later when both found out they qualified to the Masters Meet as their jumps tied for the 10th-best mark.
Saturday proved a bittersweet day for Yoho, Flintridge Prep’s senior distance runner.
The reigning All-Area Boys’ Cross-Country Runner of the Year recovered from an early stumble in the 1,600-meter race by winning the Division IV 800-meter championship with a mark 1 minute, 56.27 seconds.
“It’s been kind of a down season and little victories like this kind of get my hopes up,” Yoho said. “I ended the cross-country season on such a high note and there were a lot of expectations. I think they kind of got to me.”
Yoho entered with a prelims mark of 1:56.86 and just held off Nordoff junior Landis Meyer (1:56.65) over the final 10 meters for the win. Unfortunately for Yoho, his winning mark was 19th overall across the section’s four divisions and outside the top-12 mark needed to advance.
The win was a bit of redemption, though, for Yoho (second, 4:15.90), who competed with teammates Jack Van Scoter (third, 4:19.69) and Tyler Fong (eighth, 4:29.96) in the 1,600 finals. Yoho was passed up over the final 40 meters by Don Bosco Tech’s Ruben Dominguez (4:13.92).
Like Yoho, Crescenta Valley’s Melnyk found her groove as the junior turned in her best mark since last year’s Division I championships by taking third with a mark of 2:13.71.
“I’m just so happy and I thank God that I got here,” said Melnyk, who hadn’t been able to come close to replicating her championship mark of 2:13.34 last year. “Throughout the season I’ve missed so much training and practices because of my illness, I just can’t believe it.”
Melnyk’s ability to pass two runners over the final 250 meters was enough to advance her to the Masters as she finished 10th overall.
In the team standings, the Flintridge Prep boys were the only local program to finish in the top five as the Rebels were third with 47 points.
Flintridge Prep’s performance was aided by Van Scoter, who was also fifth (9:25.81) in the Division IV 3,200.
While there was some celebrating, there was also plenty of heartbreak.
St. Francis finished 12th with 19 points and missed qualifying an athlete to the Masters Meet.
Perhaps the best hope resided in two-event competitor Eric Knowles.
Unfortunately for the senior, he came up just short, taking fifth in the long jump (22-00 3/4) and sixth in the triple jump (44-8 1/2).
“That’s high school sports man and it hurts,” Knowles said. “I felt good today and it just didn’t happen and I don’t know why. I’m just thankful to have had a great four years at St. Francis.”
Knowles’ teammate, junior Ross Niederhaus, had ambitions of a Division III 400-meter title and just missed, instead taking the silver in 48.63.
“That’s not my personal best and I just got out-muscled in the last 100,” said Niederhaus, who was 11th overall and is a second alternate for the Masters. “I did my best today and I’ll settle for that.”
St. Francis sophomore Jasher Foster capped his season by placing fifth in the 110-meter hurdles (14.79).
Flintridge Sacred Heart tied for ninth in Division IV with Santa Ynez with 17 points and received its top effort from junior Kayla Montgomery, who was fourth (58.13) in the 400-meter dash, ahead of teammate Nia Harris (eighth, 59.75).
In relays competition, the Tologs 4x400 team took fourth (4:01.32), while the 4x100 squad was sixth (50.03).
Tologs freshman Sophia Saldivar closed out the competition for her squad, taking sixth in the 800 in 2:19.02.
Other than Melnyk, Falcons junior Emmie Walker tied for eighth in the Division I high jump with a leap of 5-3, the girls’ 1,600-meter relay squad was eighth (3:54.49) and Naval Academy-bound Gabe Collison likely concluded an outstanding career by placing sixth (9:15.34) in the 3,200. Collison is a second alternate to Masters.
Flintridge Prep senior Sarah Yoho also called it a season while battling an illness in placing eighth in the Division IV 800 (2:24.54) after not being able to finish in the 1,600.
Follow Andrew J. Campa on Twitter: @campadresports.