Pursuit of a state championship will head to the final day of the season for Burroughs High senior Jagdeep Chahal, while fellow 12th-grader Elizabeth Switzer capped a wonderful campaign.
Chahal earned advancement in the 1,600-meter run out of Friday evening’s first day of the CIF State Track and Field Championships at Clovis Buchanan High.
Chahal entered with the state’s top-seeded mark and cruised to qualification by finishing third in his heat and sixth overall with a preliminaries mark of 4 minutes, 14.09 seconds. Though the time was the slowest for him since the Division I prelims (4:17.55) at Trabuco Hills on May 12, he easily advanced to the state championship Saturday at 6:30 p.m.
“I was just trying to qualify, which was to get top four in my heat,” Chahal said. “Once I was third, I just tried keeping my position and not go harder than I needed to. Now my focus is on winning the 1,600.”
The Indians senior will look to bring home his school’s first state championship since Ron Morris won the pole vault in 1952.
Chahal’s meteoric rise through the state rankings began when the Pacific League champion won the CIF Southern Section Division I championship May 19 at El Camino College in a school record mark of 4:12.73.
He followed that effort by winning the Masters Meet Saturday in 4:11.09, which was the top-seeded mark heading into Friday.
On Friday, Chahal ran unencumbered having to only compete in the 1,600. That won’t be the case Saturday as the UC Santa Barbara-committed athlete is also slated to compete in the 3,200 at 9:25 p.m.
Though there was some speculation Chahal would drop out of the 3,200, Burroughs coach John Peebles said that won’t happen.
“He has to do both because of the state meet ‘Honest Effort’ rule, so he’s geared up and ready to go,” Peebles said. “Basically, we have to make sure he’s hydrated and ready to go. We’ll deal with the first race and then we’ll start worrying about that second race.”
Chahal owns the No. 3 mark in the 3,200 of 9:04.83, which he turned in at the Masters Meet. His personal best and school record, however, is 9:00.61.
Hope that two Indians would advance Saturday fizzled out on the second height of the pole vault for Switzer.
The senior easily cleared the opening standard of 11 feet, 6 inches which was significantly higher than previous starting marks of 10-11 at the Masters Meet and 11 feet at the Division I championships.
The Glendale Community College-bound Switzer had lived dangerously at both meets, needing a third try at 11-6 at the Division I finals and third attempt at 11-11 at the Masters Meet to qualify.
This time, she missed on her third and final try at 12 feet, which would have matched her personal best. Switzer finished tied for 16th.
Friday marked the first time Switzer hadn’t hit 12 feet since she and teammate Alexandra Akobian shared the Pacific League pole vault title with a height of 11 feet on May 3.
“It was very hot out there and in my opinion, Liz warmed up too long,” Burroughs vault coach Mike McHorney said. “Honestly, it just didn’t happen, but she doesn’t have anything to be ashamed of. She’s come so far this year. I’m proud of her.”
Friday also ended Switzer’s pursuit of a school record as she had been trying since the Division I preliminaries to top the mark of 12-3.
Friday evening was a success for former Burroughs High standout Christian Valles. The 2017 All-Area Boys’ Track and Field Athlete of the Year qualified to the state finals at 7:15 p.m. as a member of Canyon Country Canyon High.