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On track for success

On track for success
Sienna Brown smiles as she pulls away during the 50-meter run during the Laguna Beach Community Service Department’s annual Youth Track Meet at Laguna Beach High School on Friday.
(Don Leach, Coastline Pilot)

Calvin Capelle and Aidan Bennett exemplified the spirit and makeup of Laguna Beach’s annual youth track and field meet Friday at Laguna Beach High School.

The event acts as a qualifier for May’s Orange County track meet.


For Calvin, 11, the meet has become a rite of spring.

He has competed in the event since he was 6 and holds meet records in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter races, city Recreation Supervisor Tom Toman said.


On Friday, Calvin took the lead for good on the second of four laps in the 1,600-meter run and finished in 5 minutes, 40 seconds, Toman said.

Calvin raced for his own enjoyment because runners need to be at least 13 to qualify for the Orange County meet, Toman said.

“The wind wasn’t really good,” said Calvin, who lives in Laguna and runs with the South Orange County Wildcats Youth Track Club. “I paced myself.”

The 1,600 was a tune-up for what followed.


Calvin, a student at Journey School in Aliso Viejo, won both the 400 (1:09) and 800 (2:43) in his age division, Toman said. His 400 time was nearly four seconds better than last year, when he triumphed in 1:13 and set the record for 10-year-olds.

The meet attracts girls and boys, some as young as 7, others as old as 14, for events such as long jump, high jump, softball throw and the 50- and 100-yard dash.

Anneliese School student Aidan, 10, was a first-timer, and decided on the long jump.

“I like to try new things,” he said.


Each child had three jumps and Aidan saved his best for last — 10 feet, 61/2 inches, to win his division.

“I tried to get as much momentum as possible,” Aidan said.

The meet resembled a laid-back day in the park. Parents chatted with one another while kids tossed a football.

Competitors run the gamut from kids like Calvin, who are more serious about their events, to others trying for the first time.

“It’s controlled chaos,” Toman said. “Some run into each other’s lanes.”

Toman credited help from part-time city staff and volunteers as instrumental to making the event a success. They clocked times as runners finished and logged distances in both the long and high jumps.

Registration fees ($16 for pre-registration and $21 the day of the event) pay the district for facility use and compensate city staff who work the meet, Toman said. Children must live in the city or Laguna Beach Unified School District boundaries.

Toman estimated 35 children pre-registered for an event he said used to draw hundreds of kids.

"[In the last few years] enrollments have steadily declined,” he said. “I don’t know why because every year we run it better.”

The top four finishers in each division qualify for the county meet May 4 at Laguna Hills High.

Fred Pichay, a Laguna Beach High track and field assistant coach, runs a spring program in which he works with children to refine their techniques before the county meet, Toman said.