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On the Beat Track and Field: Balancing act for track coaches

Posted: April 25, 2014 10:46 p.m.
Updated: April 25, 2014 10:46 p.m.

For track and field coaches, it’s always a balancing act between worrying about winning team competitions and figuring out how to keep their best athletes ready for the end of the season.

We’re coming up on the finish line of the team track and field season in the Santa Clarita Valley, which means the drama of the individual competition is nearly upon us.

In the Foothill League, the Canyon boys earned an outright league crown this week — a fifth straight — and the Golden Valley girls clinched at least of share of their second straight Foothill title.

On the girls side, it’s still conceivable that West Ranch could beat Golden Valley next week in the final dual meet of the season, which would create a potential three-way split for a league title between Golden Valley, West Ranch and Saugus.

And then it’s onto the grueling postseason process, beginning with the Foothill championships on May 8.

Assuming all the big players are healthy — and they’re not — there should be lots of interesting matchups to watch for league finals and a solid group of athletes with potential to go all the way to the state meet in Clovis.

Primed for postseason: Last year, the Foothill League sent five athletes to the state championships. Two of them — Saugus juniors Samantha Ortega and Sabrina Janes — are still trying to get healthy from leg injuries. Both have been held out of certain competitions thus far, but both are hoping to be ready to go for a return trip to Clovis.

Another state finalist from last year, Canyon senior Jeremy Kimmer, may have a chance to make another postseason run. Last year he made it in high jump, but he’s also looking strong in the pole vault this season.

He could also be joined by teammate Brett Molster, who coaches say has the potential to clear 7 feet in the high jump.

Speaking of Canyon, sprints coach Eric Johnson thinks his boys 4x100-meter relay team could match the accomplishments of the 2010 team which reached the state finals.

In addition, Valencia’s Briana Pica continues to excel in the pole vault, which is the event that carried her to the CIF-Southern Section Masters Meet last year.

West Ranch thrower Nathan Bultman is also looking toward the CIF finals and beyond after his promising season was cut short by injury a year ago.

Golden girls: The bottom line is the girls sprinting events are dominated by Golden Valley’s impressive group.

Azaria Hill, Crystal Orellana and Jada Selexman are the core of the group. Collectively, Hill and Orellana will try to repeat league titles in a total of five events. Selexman could be a dark horse in the 400 as well.

The question will be whether any member of this group can make some noise at the CIF level against a stacked Southern Section.

The fastest guy in town: What we do know for sure is Valencia senior Nick Jones and Canyon senior Cole Mears are two of the fastest kids in the area. Both have hovered around 11 seconds in the 100 meters.

Some of their best marks are based on hand times though, so nothing will be settled for sure until the two line up side-by-side.

Jones was a standout wide receiver for Valencia’s football team and is the defending league champ in the 400 meters. Mears is a standout fourth-year varsity baseball player at Canyon and this is his first year running track. Other top contenders in sprints are West Ranch’s Aaron Danny and Golden Valley’s Jacob Ortiz.

Going the distance: This is always the time of year when we get to see which top-notch cross country runners from the fall can translate the success onto the track.

Saugus’ Ortega and Janes have been mentioned

Janes may or may not take part in a hotly contested 800-meter battle in girls that also includes West Ranch junior and defending league champion Marisa Magsarili as well as Valencia junior Amelia Pear.

In the boys races, there are all kinds of talented runners. The top ones are Saugus’ Brian Zabilski and Alex Pearson, and Hart’s Bailey James, Ryan Ortiz and Andrew Orona. Chances are, one of those five names will finish first in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 come May 8.

Hurdles to clear: Hart’s Conner West won both the 110 and 300 hurdles events in league and was a CIF finalist in both. And yet, the competition for the league title in those events is far from a sure thing.

Canyon’s Jarrett Davidson has shown he can beat 15 seconds in the 110 hurdles and fellow Hart Indian Matt Nali beat out Davidson in the 300 hurdles on Thursday with West sitting out.

A lot is yet to be decided.

Playing the field: We’ve talked about Kimmer and Molster, but another Canyon athlete, Steven Childs, will go into the league finals as a favorite to win the long jump and a contender in the triple jump.

He’ll have West Ranch’s Max Cawley and Valencia’s Christian Brouws to deal with in the triple, though.

It will be interesting to see how the jumps play out on the girls side as well, with mainstays like Golden Valley’s Orellana and Caitlyn Zindroski being challenged by young up-and-comers.

West Ranch freshman Adaugo Oguejifor will challenge in the long jump along with Hart sophomore Liz Sulaiman and Valencia freshman Michaela Banyi.

Golden Valley senior Samiyah Hawkins is a clear frontrunner in both shot put and discus.

Predictions: Although champions have been crowned, a lot can still shift around with one league dual meet left to go on Thursday. That includes breaking what is currently a three-way tie for second place in the boys standings.

Projected boys final standings:

1. Canyon

T2. Hart

T2. West Ranch

4. Valencia

5. Saugus

6. Golden Valley

Projected girls standings:

1. Golden Valley

2. Saugus

3. West Ranch

4. Valencia

5. Canyon

6. Hart


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