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Prep track and field roundup: Golden Valley holds its ground

Grizzlies sweep West Ranch at home; Canyon, Valencia split

Posted: April 13, 2016 10:52 p.m.
Updated: April 13, 2016 10:52 p.m.
Golden Valley's Azaria Hill takes the first handoff of the 400 meter relay from teammate Lonyaa Merriweather during a dual meet against West Ranch on Wednesday. Signal photo by Katharine Lotze. Golden Valley's Azaria Hill takes the first handoff of the 400 meter relay from teammate Lonyaa Merriweather during a dual meet against West Ranch on Wednesday. Signal photo by Katharine Lotze.
Golden Valley's Azaria Hill takes the first handoff of the 400 meter relay from teammate Lonyaa Merriweather during a dual meet against West Ranch on Wednesday. Signal photo by Katharine Lotze.
West Ranch's Adaugo Oguejiofor clears the third hurdle in the varsity girls 100 meter hurdles at Golden Valley during a dual meet on Wednesday. Signal photo by Katharine Lotze. West Ranch's Adaugo Oguejiofor clears the third hurdle in the varsity girls 100 meter hurdles at Golden Valley during a dual meet on Wednesday. Signal photo by Katharine Lotze.
West Ranch's Adaugo Oguejiofor clears the third hurdle in the varsity girls 100 meter hurdles at Golden Valley during a dual meet on Wednesday. Signal photo by Katharine Lotze.
West Ranch's Michael Sorensen clears 10 feet, 3 inches in the boys varsity pole vault at Golden Valley during a dual meet on Wednesday. Signal photo by Katharine Lotze. West Ranch's Michael Sorensen clears 10 feet, 3 inches in the boys varsity pole vault at Golden Valley during a dual meet on Wednesday. Signal photo by Katharine Lotze.
West Ranch's Michael Sorensen clears 10 feet, 3 inches in the boys varsity pole vault at Golden Valley during a dual meet on Wednesday. Signal photo by Katharine Lotze.
Golden Valley's Cheyanne Franklin throws the shot put during a dual meet against West Ranch on Wednesday. Signal photo by Katharine Lotze. Golden Valley's Cheyanne Franklin throws the shot put during a dual meet against West Ranch on Wednesday. Signal photo by Katharine Lotze.
Golden Valley's Cheyanne Franklin throws the shot put during a dual meet against West Ranch on Wednesday. Signal photo by Katharine Lotze.
West Ranch's Siobhan Rubio, left, and Golden Valley's Bianca Tonoco, right, lead the pack in the varsity girls 1600 meter run during a dual meet at Golden Valley on Wednesday. Signal photo by Katharine Lotze. West Ranch's Siobhan Rubio, left, and Golden Valley's Bianca Tonoco, right, lead the pack in the varsity girls 1600 meter run during a dual meet at Golden Valley on Wednesday. Signal photo by Katharine Lotze.
West Ranch's Siobhan Rubio, left, and Golden Valley's Bianca Tonoco, right, lead the pack in the varsity girls 1600 meter run during a dual meet at Golden Valley on Wednesday. Signal photo by Katharine Lotze.
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Azaria Hill, Mykasia Simpkins and Bianca Tinoco secured their futures in the sport Wednesday by signing national letters of intent to compete in track and field in college.

The Golden Valley seniors then added another impressive chapter to their high school resumes by combining for five individual wins and two runner-up finishes to lead the host Grizzlies to a 76-60 victory over West Ranch in a Foothill League first-place showdown.

“This is the way to go out. This is our senior year and this is the big bang,” said the University of California, Riverside-bound Simpkins, who placed second in the 1600-meter run in 5 minutes, 20.53 seconds and 3200 in 11:58.74. “We’ve been working hard and we deserve this. We want a third league championship, so it feels great.”

Although Golden Valley was able to clinch the girls win before the 4x400-meter relay, the boys outcome came down to the final event, with the Grizzlies relying on Andre Rivera, Hasani Fields, Brandon Sabelis and Kray Brady to prevail in 3:33.64 to rally for a 70-66 victory.

West Ranch (0-3 in Foothill League) swept the boys 3200 to grab a 66-56 advantage, but Sabelis led a Golden Valley sweep in the long jump with a leap of 19 feet, 2 inches to cut the deficit to one point, setting the stage for the dramatic 4x400 showdown.

Fields won the 100 (11.72) and 200 (24.05), with Jonathon Bay capturing the 800 (1:59.94) and 1600 (4:29.57) for Golden Valley (1-2), which received victories in the shot put (46-10) and discus throw (49-11) from Gabe Coronado.

The shot put and discus also played significant factors in the girls meet, with two of the state’s most talented freshmen squaring off for the first time in league after squaring off several times in youth track.

Golden Valley’s Shyann Franklin won the shot put (39-7) and discus (113-5) for Golden Valley (3-0), edging West Ranch’s Natalie Ramirez in both events. Me’Lani Brown provided important support for the Grizzlies with a second-place finish in the shot put (36-9 1/2) and third-place effort in the discus (103-9).

“We’ve been going against each other for almost seven years now, so it’s competitive,” Franklin said. “It was hard because at first because she was winning, but then I started practicing more and taking shot put more serious. Then we started competing in high school and I had a bit of an advantage on her, so it’s been like we’ve been going back and forth.”

Ramirez was second in the discus (105-10) and third in the shot put (36-7 ½) for West Ranch (2-1), which had its strengths in the middle-distance events and throws neutralized by Golden Valley’s depth.

“Shyann and I have always been neck and neck, so I’m excited for the next four years to see what we can do and how much we can push each other,” Ramirez said. “It feels good to have that competition, not only for me, but our entire team. That’s the fun of it. We want to have someone to challenge us because we want to be able to do our best. That’s what drives me forward.”

Golden Valley continued to move forward toward a potential third championship in four years, combining the leadership of their seniors with several contributions from unsung heroes, none more timely than Alexxys Banuelos (15-11) and Jemilat Akanni (15-1) finishing first and second in the long jump to assure the Grizzlies wouldn’t have to compete in the 4x400.

“In comparison, not to say I’m not excited to go to college, but after running three events, it was a huge relief not having to run the 4x400,” said the Arizona State University-bound Tinoco, who swept the 800 (2:18.36), 1600 (5:13.77) and 3200 (11:54.95).

“I would have done it. I would have got on the line and done it. But it’s always better to be secure with the win and then just relax.”

West Ranch cut the deficit to 52-43 after Adaugo Oguejifor won the 300 hurdles in 51.23 following an earlier victory in the 100 hurdles in 16.24. But Golden Valley responded with first- and second-place finishes in the 200, 3200 and long jump to erase the possibility of a Wildcats’ comeback.

“I challenged the girls and told them they can’t just rely on Azaria, Lonyaa (Merriweather), Bianca and Mykasia. This was their opportunity to step up to the plate and help the team win a championship,” Golden Valley co-head coach Sara Soltani said. “Their need to be able to fight and to demonstrate their will to do it for each other was reiterated all week and they really came through.”

Hill, who signed with California State University, Long Beach, won the 100 (12.40) and 200 (25.97), with Lonyaa Merriweather taking second in the 200 (26.24) and 400 (57.85), in addition to Kiara Gunn finishing second in the 100 hurdles (17.84) and third in the 300 hurdles (52.95) for Golden Valley.

Canyon boys 80, Valencia 56

Also remaining unbeaten in the hopes for a league title was the Canyon boys track and field team.

Head coach Paul Broneer had said prior to the meet that Valencia’s times on paper were better than the Cowboys’ times.

But he also said, you don’t race on paper.

It was close in the sprints with Canyon’s Steven Arrington taking first place in the 200-meter dash (22.12) and a second-place finish in the 100 (11.06). Connor Holcomb edged his own teammate in the 100 with a 11.01 first-place mark.

Valencia’s Joshua Pikes helped keep the Vikes close with a win in the 110-meter hurdles (16.66) and second-place finish in the 300 hurdles (43.24).

But it was the field events that separated the two.

The Cowboys placed first in five of the six field events, including sweeping the top three spots in the shot put.

John Elam, Luis Vargas and Jacob Lopez threw 53-7, 48-6 and 47-10, respectively.

Valencia girls 83, Canyon 53

The Edwards sisters, Catelyn and Catherine, took first and second place in the 100 and 200 for Valencia.

The Vikes field events also proved to be the deciding factor, as Valencia won four out of the six field events.

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