Three local high school athletes will make the cherished pilgrimage to the Central Valley to compete on the state’s biggest stage.
Costa Mesa thrower Tayla Crenshaw, Marina pole vaulter Skyler Magula and Newport Harbor thrower Aidan Elbettar have never advanced to the finals of the CIF State track and field championships, which will begin Friday with the preliminaries at Clovis Buchanan High.
Crenshaw will head to the state meet for the second time in her career, and the senior looks to produce her first legal throws at the meet.
Crenshaw fouled out of the girls’ discus throw competition in her first state appearance to conclude her junior year. The result left her unsure of herself.
“I wasn’t confident in myself,” Crenshaw said. “Not that I couldn’t get back, but just having the ability and the mindset. I know that it was a little hard for me when I got to the state meet to get out of my head.”
Through the first month of this season, Crenshaw struggled to produce throws that rivaled what she had accomplished the year before.
Not to worry. Crenshaw, in fact, was a second-half thrower her junior year, too. She did not produce her first 130-foot throw until a season-best 136-9 in the 2017 Masters meet at Arcadia High.
To some extent, a past history of success in a ring has offered comfort to Crenshaw. A 135-foot throw to win the open division of the Arcadia Invitational on April 7 indicated that she had turned the corner.
Two weeks later, she put up a lifetime-best mark of 142-11 in the Mt. SAC Relays, which were held at El Camino College in Torrance. She returned to the same ring to win the CIF Southern Section Division 3 title (133-3) and to finish as the runner-up in the section’s Masters meet (140-3).
“I feel like after Arcadia, my confidence and my mindset are completely different now,” Crenshaw said. “Every meet that I went to after [Orange Coast League finals] this year was just, ‘Qualify. Qualify to get there.’
“Finals was just, ‘Qualify.’ Masters, I just wanted to qualify. I’m going to go into state the same way and just try to make it to the next day.”
One thing that will be different for the UC Irvine signee is that she will not have her twin sister, Felicia, by her side.
Felicia Crenshaw plans to attend the Costa Mesa High prom on Saturday at Soka University. Tayla Crenshaw said the state meet is the place she wants to be.
Many have to compromise when the CIF postseason and the end-of-year dance coincide with each other. Spectacularly, Agoura’s Tara Davis did not. After winning three section titles in the long jump, the triple jump and the 100-meter hurdles last year, Davis, who now competes for the University of Georgia, flew to her prom by helicopter.
Magula has also enjoyed a late-season surge. Although he has won 11 of his 16 starts, his latest was his most impressive.
The junior cleared a career-best 15-9 to win the boys’ pole vault at Masters, unseating the favorite in Studio City Harvard-Westlake’s Tiber Seireeni.
“I’m pretty impressed with the way that he has handled himself coming through all of these meets,” said Kevin Magula, who is Skyler’s father and coach. “He wasn’t favored to win Masters, so for him to step up and be on his game that day was pretty spectacular.”
Skyler Magula is tied for the sixth-best mark in the state, putting him in contention for the podium.
Elbettar set a personal record with a heave of 57-7 to qualify second in the boys’ shotput at Masters.
The sophomore’s numbers stack up with other locals who have done well. UC Irvine thrower and former Marina Viking Kyle Tsu converted to spinning for his senior year. Elbettar’s production with the glide throwing motion has surpassed Tsu, who topped out at 55-5½ during his junior year, his last using the glide.
CIF State track and field championships
When: Friday and Saturday
Where: Clovis Buchanan High