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Providence leads way for locals in CIF track and field finals

Providence leads way for locals in CIF track and field finals
Providence High's Ryan Clemens qualified for the CIF Southern Section Division IV finals in the boys' 110- and 300-meter hurdles races. (Miguel Vasconcellos)

The Providence High track and field teams have enjoyed success thus far this season.

While many other Pioneers sports struggled after joining the Prep League for the 2018-19 campaign, the athletes on the school’s track and field teams have thrived.

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The boys’ squad captured the Prep League championship — it’s second straight league title after winning a Liberty League crown in 2018 — and the girls’ team placed second in league.

For a handful of Providence athletes, their fine season is still in full swing. Those Pioneers athletes, along with one each from Burbank and Burroughs, will take part in the CIF Southern Section finals Saturday at El Camino College in Torrance. The field events will start at 10:30 and the running events will get underway at 1 p.m.

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“It’s been a great season so far for them,” Providence coach Mohamed Haddada said. “Some of them are still going, and we’re proud of that.

“There are some of them who are a little bit frustrated because they have struggled with some injuries. Injuries have been a big problem for us this year, both on the girls’ and boys’ sides. But they’re very excited and their happy to be in the CIF finals.”

A positive for Providence is that among the group competing Saturday in the Division IV finals, just one is a senior.

The Pioneers advanced to the finals after qualifying out of the CIF preliminaries May 5 at Carpinteria High.

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Leading the way for Providence in the finals is sophomore Ryan Clemens, who qualified in two events on the boys’ side. Clemens was seventh in the 110-meter hurdles in 16.12 seconds and placed seventh in the 300 hurdles in 42.15, both good for school records.

Clemens was the league champion in the 110 hurdles and was a member of the Pioneers’ league-title 4x100 relay team.

Also earning a spot on the boys’ side is junior Bryce Whitaker, who placed third in the triple jump with a 42 feet, 7 1/4 inch effort, setting a new record. Whitaker was a triple winner in league, taking the triple jump and running legs on the Providence winning 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams.

Whitaker also has two other impressive distinctions. He was a member of two Providence league-championship squads this season, as he was a starter for the boys’ basketball squad that took the Prep League crown. In addition, this is his second finals appearance in as many sports after helping the basketball team get to the Division IV-A championship game in February.

On the girls’ side, the Providence 4x400 relay team of sophomore Gabriella Florian, juniors Katherine Asryan and Nadia Singleton and senior Kristen Ayap earned a finals berth after finishing sixth in the prelims in in 4:14.22, setting a school record.

Sophomore Nicole Rochart also advanced to the finals with a ninth-place finish in the shot putt with a mark of 32-11 1/2.

“It’s great to have them in the finals and we’re looking forward to seeing what they can do against all the good competition.,” Haddada said. “But really, with only one of them being a senior, this is part of a two-year plan. We are hoping to gain the experience this year and come back even stronger next year.”

Burroughs will have one competitor in the boys’ portion of the Division I competition after pole vaulter Eli Gault-Crabb qualified out of the prelims May 5 at Trabuco Hills High.

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Gault-Crabb, a sophomore who won the Pacific League title, placed eighth with a 14-3 effort last week.

Gault-Crabb is the latest in a long linage of successful pole vaulters from Burroughs. In 2018, senior Elizabeth Switzer advanced to the CIF State Track and Field Championships in the girls’ event.

Switzer joined Christian Valles (2017), Sarah Prystupa (2016) and Matthew Schwartz (2014) — all former All-Area Track and Field Athletes of the Year — to qualify for state meet.

The Burbank representative will be junior Jayla Flowers.

Flowers advanced to the Division I finals in two events out of the prelims. Flowers placed second in the triple jump with a mark of 38-3 3/4 and fourth in the long jump with a 17-9 effort after winning Pacific League championships in both events.

Flowers is a former No. 1 nationally ranked junior athlete in the triple jump and participated in the Junior Olympics.

Athletes will look to advance to the CIF Masters Meet on May 18 at El Camino College.

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