A trio of athletes from Burroughs High and Bellarmine-Jefferson will take part in a historic weekend at Saturday’s CIF Southern Section Championships at Torrance El Camino College.
Indians seniors Jagdeep Chahal and Elizabeth Switzer are slated to compete in Division I, while Guards senior Tim Carlson is set to participate in Division IV.
Chahal is the city’s lone dual qualifier and will start his day in the 1,600-meter championship, roughly at 2 p.m., before running in the combined Division I and III 3,200 finals at 5:50.
In qualifying to the Division I finals, Chahal is making his furthest career advancement after having fallen short at the preliminary level in previous seasons. The senior is also his school’s first non-pole vaulter to advance to the finals in two seasons.
“This year, he just really embraced the situation and the work and kind of built up this belief that he could be in a good situation at the end of the year,” Burroughs coach John Peebles said. “He made it to state in cross-country and that really was big for his confidence.”
Chahal won the Pacific League championship in the 1,600 (4 minutes, 21.10 seconds) and 3,200 (9:13.24) and is coming off strong efforts at Saturday’s Division I preliminaries at Trabuco Hills High.
Chahal finished third in the 1,600 in a personal-best mark of 4:17.55 and is not far behind leaders Edgard Villa (4:16.52) of Vista Murrieta and Anthony Stone (4:17.18) of Loyola. He’s a little bit further off the school record of 4:14.80.
Chahal was eighth in the 3,200 in 9:07.58, which missed his personal and school record mark of 9:00.61 (broke previous record of 9:04 by Western Nelson in 2009).
“It’s all about racing the race, so the time goals can’t really be that big of a deal,” Peebles said. “It’s all about seeing how the race goes. Let the race kind of be a living organism, if you will, and adapt to it. The big key is just putting yourself in a good position and being in a good position with 400 meters to go.”
To advance to the CIF Southern Section Masters Meet the following Saturday, Chahal will need to finish in the top 12 across all four divisions competing in either race.
The senior won’t be a stranger in his competitions as he’ll compete against league rivals Colin FitzGerald and Dylan Wilbur of Crescenta Valley in the 1,600 and the Falcons’ Artin Allahverdian in the 3,200.
A tradition of excellence was maintained by the Burroughs pole vault program as Switzer’s advancement marks a fifth straight season the school has qualified a pole vaulter to the Division I championships.
That feat is made more remarkable after Burroughs lost the All-Area Track and Field Boys’ Athlete of the Year in senior Christian Valles to transfer.
“I’m tremendously proud of Liz and of the all the kids in the program because we were really sorry to lose Christian,” Burroughs vault coach Mike McHorney said. “Elizabeth worked hard this year and kept on improving.”
More history is on the line for Switzer, who finished in a six-way tie for first with a personal-best leap of 12 feet at Saturday’s prelims.
Like Chahal, she needs to finish in the top 12 across all four divisions to advance.
Should Switzer punch her ticket, she would join Valles (2017), Sarah Prystupa (2016) and Matthew Schwartz (2014) – all former All-Area Track and Field Athletes of the Year – to qualify to the Masters Meet.
Switzer is also within striking distance of the school record of 12-3, set by Prystupa.
“If [Switzer] does 12 feet again like last week, she’ll move on,” McHorney said. “It’s just a matter of doing it.”
Saturday will likely mark the end of an era of racing and athletics for Bell-Jeff, which will be closing its doors at the conclusion of the school year.
“It’s probably our last meet and it’s bittersweet,” said Bell-Jeff coach Jim Couch, whose team is holding its banquet Friday. “Winning the league title was the icing on the cake for us and everything going forward was a bonus. So, we’re just going to enjoy Saturday.”
Carlson has an opportunity to end a proud tradition with grace as he’ll compete in the Division IV pole vault at 10:30 a.m.
It’s a long shot Carlson will advance as he tied for sixth at the Division IV prelims Saturday in Carpinteria with a height of 11 feet, 6 inches.
To advance to Masters Meet, Carlson would need to finish in the top 12, which would likely be somewhere around 15 feet. Carlson, the Santa Fe League champion, owns a personal record of 12-6.