NORWALK — On an afternoon in which local track and field athletes were considerable long shots to extend their seasons past Friday’s CIF Southern Section Masters Meet, two such competitors skied to new heights at Cerritos College.
Flintridge Prep brothers Barrett and Gareth Weiss both set personal and school records and, perhaps just as importantly, earned a berth to the following week’s season-ending CIF State Championships in Clovis by hitting state at-large marks, while Crescenta Valley High’s Megan Melnyk just came up short.
The Weisses’ advancement is the first such this century for a Flintridge Prep athlete and is believed to be the first in school history.
The twin brothers both hit the CIF State at-large mark of 15 feet, 2 inches, but also advanced by finishing in the top six, as Barrett was fourth and Gareth ended tied for sixth with Trabuco Hills’ Luke Newman.
“It’s kind of unbelievable because it’s a height that I wasn’t sure I could get,” said Barrett, who only once previously attempted to hit a mark higher than his personal-best of 15-1. “And we share it. It’s like a double win.”
The Weiss brothers didn’t have much time to warm up, as the Masters’ opening height was 14-2, which both hit without a miss along with the following height of 14-8.
Barrett Weiss vaulted to Clovis when he converted on his first attempt at 15-2.
As for Gareth, who won the CIF-SS Division IV title last week with a mark of 14-9, there was a little more drama, as the junior missed on his first try at 15-2, before hitting the bar on his second try.
Perhaps to Gareth Weiss’ amazement while lying on the mat staring directly up, the bar rattled within its constraints, but never fell, which allowed Gareth Weiss to also punch his ticket to state.
“I just laid there and was wondering if the bar was going to fall,” Gareth Weiss said. “I couldn’t believe it. It means a lot that my brother and I both hit that same mark. We’ve been chasing each other for weeks and now we’re both on top.”
The Weiss brothers will compete in Friday evening’s state preliminaries at Clovis Buchanan High at 6 p.m.
The duo was nearly joined at state by Melnyk, who shook off a season filled with injuries to run her best race this year.
Melnyk finished with a season-best time of 2 minutes, 13.62 seconds to take ninth in the Masters 800-meter run.
The time was a little off the state at-large mark of 2:11.80, while her place was three positions outside the needed top-six spot to advance.
“I can’t be disappointed because I wasn’t even supposed to be here,” Melnyk said. “This has been such a tough year and all I wanted was a chance to come here and do better than I did last season.”
Melnyk’s mark of 2:13.62 is only beaten by her time of 2:13.34 set at last year’s CIF-SS Division I championships at Mt. San Antonio College.
Yet, Melnyk followed up that effort last year with a disappointing 12th-place finish and time of 2:16.62.
This year, Melnyk was in seventh through the first lap and fell as far behind as 11th before rallying and passing up two runners over the last 200 meters.
“It was a fast first lap and all I was trying to do was stay with the pack,” Melnyk said.
Falcons Coach Mark Evans was satisfied with the result.
“We would have loved for her to have advanced, but it didn’t happen,” Evans said. “Yet, she’s done exactly what anyone could have asked of her, which is to keep improving and post her best time in her last race of the year.”
Follow Andrew J. Campa on Twitter: @campadresports.