San Diego Section athletes in both genders stepped up in the Saturday finals of last week’s state track and field championships.
The college-like campus at Clovis’ Buchanan High was a wonderful venue for the 95th Boys’ championship and 40th Girls’ meet and drew more than 17,000 persons over two days.
Saturday’s finals began under a late-afternoon sun, in heat that reached 100 degrees, and after many from the local contingent of 90 entries were eliminated in Friday’s trials.
My Saturday favorites:
1–Hannah Labrie-Smith, Cathedral Catholic. She revealed a strong competitive edge when the sophomore battled back from a potentially disastrous mid-race crisis.
Leading coming into the homestretch turn, Labrie-Smith was thrown off stride when she struck a hurdle and fell back to fifth place. Composing herself, Hannah knocked off two runners near the finish line and nudged into third place in :42.58, after coming within 1/10 of a second of Gale Devers’ 1984 Section record of :42.26 on Friday.
2–Poway’s 4×400 relay team. San Diego teams almost never post a good time in this event before the Section finals or, more often, the state trials. Maybe it’s because coaches are trying to win dual meets and enter their best runners in multiple events each week.
Poway was sixth in a very strong field but its time of 3:15.78 was almost six seconds better than what it was running a month ago. The Titans overcame a terrible pass on the first exchange. They had virtually lost contact with the field halfway into the second lap but rallied and finished with the 13th best 4×400 in Section history.
3–Alex Grigoriev, Rancho Bernardo. At one point Grigoriev was running in 11th place but he didn’t panic, climbing the hill to third with a career best of 1:51.61, No. 8 all-time in the section.
4– Dotun Ogundeji, Madison. I feel that winning a state championship is not always the ultimate. Ogundeji has to feel good about himself.
An unheralded junior, Ogundeji was the only local athlete to qualify for two finals events.
A two-way lineman on Madison’s 2012 State III championship football team, Dotun added more than a foot to his previous best, coming in at 58-11 3/4 for sixth in the shotput and was out of the money in the discus but still managed an excellent 175-2.
5–Melissa Mongiovi, West Hills. She let the field get too far ahead but blazed a finish that got Mongiovi a fifth-place medal. Melissa’s 54.70 400 meters is No. 7 all-time in San Diego and she has two more years and enough time to get over the habit of having too much left at the finish.
6–Brenden Song, West Hills. The San Diego Section’s only gold medalist, Song won the discus by three inches at 188-8 after finishing second in 2012 and third in Friday’s trials.
7–All of the others who got to Saturday and earned medals or came up with personal bests.