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State track meet awaits for final four local standouts

State track meet awaits for final four local standouts
Crescenta Valley High senior Artin Allahverdian earned a berth to the CIF State Track and Field Championships in Clovis. (Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)

Four local athletes will attempt to turn in one last big effort beginning Friday at the two-day-long CIF State Track and Field Championships at Clovis Buchanan High.

Crescenta Valley High seniors Colin FitzGerald and Artin Allahverdian will compete in distance events, while St. Francis junior Matthew Molina gets going in the high jump and La Crescenta resident Mia Barnett is tabbed for the 1,600-meter run.

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FitzGerald hopes to continue his late-season surge in Friday’s preliminaries in the 1,600 at 5:48 p.m. FitzGerald will compete alongside Pacific League, CIF Southern Section Division I and CIF Masters Meet champion Jagdeep Chahal of Burroughs.

There will be two heats and the top four qualifiers from each heat and the next four fastest across both heats will earn advancement to Saturday’s championship at 6:30 p.m.

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“All I can do is keep doing what I’ve done and keep a positive mindset heading into state,” FitzGerald said. “I’m just going to enjoy it.”

In terms of history, FitzGerald turned in a pretty noteworthy effort at Masters.

The senior finished fifth n Saturday at El Camino College in the 1,600 in a time of 4 minutes, 12.66 seconds, which was a personal best.

The mark surpassed Zack Torres’ 4:13.9, ran in 2009, as the fastest time this century for Crescenta Valley and moved FitzGerald into second place all time in school history behind Don Moses, who ran a 4:06.7 in 1976.

As for FitzGerald and Allahverdian advancing to state together, the twosome becomes the first two Falcons to accomplish that since Claire Collison and Rachel Lange in 2008.

Unlike FitzGerald, Allahverdian doesn’t have to qualify through a preliminary stage. All state 3,200-meter advancers, like Allahverdian, automatically qualify to Saturday’s championship final at 9:25 p.m.

Allahverdian enters with a personal-best mark of 9:04.95 set at the May 12 Division I prelims at Trabuco Hills. That mark is the fourth-best in school history and trails Moses, who ran an incredible 8:49 in 1976.

Since then, Allahverdian took sixth in the Division I championships on May 19 in 9:08.21 and improved that mark by finishing eighth at the Masters Meet in 9:07.01.

“All I need to do is just stick with the group,” Allahverdian said. “It doesn’t matter if I’m last or first in a pack that’s all tight and close up. I have a pretty good kick, so I just have to be around the top guys to have a chance.”

Returning to Friday, St. Francis junior Matthew Molina is slated to compete in the high jump at 7 p.m.

To qualify to Saturday’s final at 7:30 p.m. Molina will need to finish in the top 12.

On March 1, Molina set a personal-best and school-record mark of 6 feet, 8 1/2 inches in a Mission League meet versus Notre Dame.

Since then, Molina has hovered near that mark, but has not surpassed it.

The junior won a league title in 6-7 and a Division III championship in 6-6 on May 12 on the same afternoon he captured the Division III 110-meter hurdles in 14.73.

At Masters, Molina missed a state berth in the 110 hurdles with an eighth-place time of 14.95, but punched his ticket with a state at-large mark of 6-6 in the high jump, which merited him fifth place.

“For me, I have to get in a positive mindset and focus,” Molina said. “I have to have a good week [of practice] this week, relax, stay healthy and I’ll look for some new heights.”

As for Barnett, the Village Christian freshman sensation is set to go first in the girls’ 1,600 on Friday at 5:32 p.m. If she advances, she’ll run in the final Saturday at 6:20 p.m.

Barnett has come a long way since the middle of the season when she ran a 5:24.33 in the 1,600 in an Olympic League meet April 26.

Barnett won the league finals in 5:16.67 on May 3, ran a 5:01.82 at the Division IV prelims, won a Division IV title in a personal best of 4:46.77 and is coming off a 4:50.58 at Saturday’s Masters Meet, which netted her seventh.

“What I need to work on before state is speed maintenance and taking it easy on training,” Barnett said. “I need to be fresh for the 1,600.”

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