The high school track and field season will enter its stretch run on Saturday with the CIF Southern Section Masters Meet at El Camino College in Torrance.
At this point in the recent past, the area’s hopes have rested on its strength in the field events. Locals have done particularly well in the throws and the pole vault, producing a handful of CIF State medalists.
Newport Harbor junior Aidan Elbettar pulled off the throwing double in the Division 2 finals on May 11. A returning state medalist in the boys’ shotput, Elbettar won the event with a throw of 58 feet, 11 inches in the section finals.
He also took first place in the discus throw with a mark of 193-3, and he was very encouraged by the series as a whole.
It is safe to say that some things have not changed for area track and field, but some are making an effort to have their presence felt in other events.
Three local runners will look to secure a state bid on the track, none more surprising than upstart Edison sophomore Ryan Rivituso. A month ago, he competed in the frosh-soph meet at the Orange County Championships, but earned the final spot in the 400-meter race at Masters with a time of 48.26 seconds in the Division 2 finals.
The top six in each event at Masters move on to the state championships, which will be held at Clovis Buchanan High May 24-25.
Placing could become a nonfactor for many of the locals competing on Saturday. All three local competitors on the track have a personal record that would satisfy the at-large standard if they were to replicate that performance at Masters.
The boys’ 400 automatic qualifying time is 48.53, which will be of interest to Rivituso.
Laguna Beach’s Sebastian Fisher, who placed second with a time of 4:11.00 in the Division 3 final for the boys’ 1,600, could advance by clocking in faster than the standard of 4:14.90.
Newport Harbor’s Alexis Garcia has a personal record of 9:05.77 (Arcadia Invitational) in the boys’ 3,200. The automatic qualifying time for state this year is 9:07.48.
Huntington Beach’s Jack Wiseman and Edison’s Aiden Garnett have both been to this stage before, but they are increasingly optimistic about their chances to make it to state for the first time as seniors. The at-large standard for the boys’ high jump has been lowered to 6-4 this year.
Wiseman, who leapt to a lifetime-best mark of 6-7 in the Wave League finals on April 25, said that the at-large standard had been 6-6 and 6-7 in his two previous trips to Masters. He also said that he had discussions with various coaches and officials as to why the automatic-qualifying mark dropped.
“Last year at state prelims, I’m not sure what occurred, what exactly happened with the high jump, but it was really, really low at prelims,” Wiseman said. “I think it took 6-3 to qualify to make it through to finals, which is ridiculous for Southern California because it’s such a competitive area. The average of all of those heights just led to 6-4 being the instant qualifier.”
The UC San Diego-bound Wiseman is far from complaining about the turn of events.
“If you kind of look at the results from [CIF] finals, we had nine guys over 6-6,” Wiseman added. “The fact that nine people are two inches over the instant [qualifier bar] is just insane.
“I’m over-the-moon excited. I can’t wait for [Saturday], and 6-4 is a pretty consistent height of mine, so hopefully we’ll finally get it senior year.”
Junior high jumper Nicolette Gruber and junior discus thrower Alejandra Rosales will also be competing at Masters for Marina.
CIF Southern Section Masters Meet
When/where: Saturday at El Camino College
Fan info: Gates open at 9:30 a.m. for spectators. Tickets are $10 for adults, and $5 for students with ID and children (ages 5-13). Parking is $3.
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