On their mark and set to succeed

GLENDALE — The group of local athletes competing in the 2011 CIF Southern Section Track and Field Divisional Championship finals at Cerritos College today may be smaller than in most years, but for a handful of runners from Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, Glendale High, St. Francis and Flintridge Prep, the aspirations remain quite large.

In addition to competing for CIF championships, they will also be chasing down qualifications for the Masters Meet gained by finishing in the top nine across all divisions in their respective events.

The Tologs will have the largest local contingent on hand today, with five athletes competing in Division IV.

First up will be Stephanie Vargas, Noëlle Niederhaus, Daelyn Moon and Drew Washington in the 4x100-meter relay. The group appears to be peaking at the right time, coming off setting a school record of 49.85 seconds in the event, where they finished seventh overall, at the Division IV prelims at Carpinteria High on May 14.

The first heat of the 4x100 relay will begin at 1 p.m., where Tologs Coach Mario Aguilar is confident the quartet can drop even more time.

"We're expecting that from them," Aguilar said. "I think one of the reasons why they are peaking at the right time right now is they actually have some good chemistry with the baton. That's what I would say is the reason for their recent success and why they're doing things right at this point.

"I know the odds are stacked against us [to make Masters]. I would be happy for the girls to go out tomorrow and get another season-best, which would basically be another school record for us in that event. If that were to happen, we could live with the result whether we are able to move on or not."

Sacred Heart will also have Vargas and Washington competing in the 400 meters at 2:55 p.m. Vargas won her prelims heat with the fifth-fastest division time of 58.35 and Washington placed eighth in 59.73. Freshman Rebecca Armstrong will make her CIF debut at 3:50 p.m. in the 800, where she posted a time of 2:25.06 to take ninth in the prelims.

Glendale's Mike Davis will represent the Nitros in Division II in the 100 and 200, as well as the 4x400 relay.

At the Division II prelims at Trabuco Hills High on May 14, Davis clocked a personal-best mark of 21.65, which is the third fastest in school history, to win his heat of the 200, which will go off at 4:50 p.m. He went on to place eighth in the 100 in 10.92. The 100 will begin at 3:35.

Davis, Paul Archer, Dillon Fuller and Jeffrey Massin placed eighth with a personal-best mark of 3:22.93 in the 4x400 relay at the prelims and will compete today at 6:30 p.m. in the day's final event.

"The only negative from CIF prelims was Mike Davis' start in the 100," Glendale Coach Bob Bailey said. "Hopefully we have cleaned that up this past week.

"Our goal is simple — we'll go out, run our best, and see what happens."

James Knowles will look to sustain his season-long run of success in hurdling events when he takes part in the Division III 110 hurdles at 2:40 p.m. and the 300 hurdles at 4:25 p.m.

Knowles impressed by winning both of his heats at the Division III prelims at Estancia High on May 14, setting a personal record of 14.64 in the 110 hurdles for the third-best overall time and returning to clock a 39.91 in the 300.

"James has had a great season so far," Golden Knights Coach Pat Donovan said. "You always run the risk of wondering if an athlete is over trained at the end of a season or is just tired and, based off his performance last week, the fact that he was able to pull out a pretty solid PR in the 110 and still come back and run a solid 300 on a pretty windy day shows that he's definitely strong and he's definitely peaking at the right time."

Donovan would like to see Knowles go under 14.5 in the 110 today.

"He's definitely in the right shape to do it and he's got the motivation to do it," Donovan said. "But in the 110 hurdles, any mistake on any hurdle can mess with any goal you've set, so we didn't want to put anything in stone. But, he's had a good season and I want to see him get out strong and get out hard and be competitive through the last hurdle through the finish line.

"He hasn't focused on [the 300] as much this year as he has the 110, but we're hoping to get something in the 38s tomorrow and he definitely has the competition to pull him through that."

Also in Division IV, Flintridge Prep freshman Kate Kennedy will make her CIF debut in the 300 hurdles at 4:15 p.m. Kennedy clocked a personal-best time of 46.32 to take fifth overall at the Division IV prelims.

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