TRACK: 13 area athletes get past Masters to qualify for state, including Damien’s Jarrett Gonzalez and Bonita’s Nikki Wheatley

Keith Birmingham’s Masters Photo Gallery

By Keith Lair, staff writer
The CIF-Southern Section Masters Meet was very predictable on Friday night. But it also was very unpredictable.

Victories at the meet at Cerritos College were not nearly as important as a place or a top time. The top five finishers and those who met the CIF State qualifying standard advanced to next week’s CIF State Meet at Clovis Buchanan High School.

How predictable was it? Nearly every one of the 24 athletes from the Valley said that was the No. 1 goal for the meet, which featured only the top athletes from last weekend’s CIF-SS division finals.

Blustery swirling winds made it difficult, especially for field event competitors. It was close to 20 degrees cooler than Thursday and the wind-chill made it feel more like the end of winter.

“It’s just the weather,” said Cantwell Sacred Heart’s Adam Aguirre, the only area qualifier making back-to-back appearances in the state meet. “All your muscles are not warmed up.

“I wanted to qualify and after that, I just let it go.”

Also unpredictable – and predictable, according to some coaches – was the amount of qualifiers from the section. All nine athletes in the boys’ 300-meter hurdles race, including Damien’s Jarrett Gonzales and Diamond Ranch’s Andrew Fischer, advanced. Eleven of the 12 in the 1,600, including Rowland’s Nick Rivera, La Salle’s Daniel De La Torre and Arcadia’s Sergio Gonzalez, qualified.

In all 13 athletes earned berths in next week’s meet. Maranatha’s Ebony Crear echoed the thoughts of all 10.

“That was my goal for the whole season,” the sophomore hurdler said.

Two athletes, De La Torre and Gonzalez, earned qualifying times in both distance events and also made it in the 3,200.

De La Torre, a junior, ran the 1,600 in 4:12.98 and the 3,200 in 9:06.13. Gonzalez, a senior, ran the 1,600 in 4:13.23 and the 3,200 in 9:06.88. Rivera qualified fourth with a time of 4:11.84.

De La Torre will be the lone area athlete to attempt a double. Gonzalez said he will run in only the 3,200 next week; there are no Friday night qualifying races in the meet’s longest race.

“I will only run one race,” said Gonzalez, the CIF-SS and state Division 1 cross country champion. “The two mile, I’m already in that state final. A tired man can do only so much while a rested man can do so much better.”

Three athletes who tried to qualify in multiple events only advanced in one.

Bonita sophomore Nikki Wheatley advanced in the triple jump, her best event, by placing fourth in 38-4. She failed to qualify in the long jump at 17-1 1/2 and in the high jump at 5-3.

She said the weather conditions had a lot to do with it.

“Being so cold threw me off,” she said. “I had to warm up between every single jump.”

The triple jump was her last event.

“I was hoping to go (to state) in all three, but it was a lot of jumps,” she said. “That made for a lot of pressure (in the triple jump). I knew I had to make it, but it was also my best event. I made it. That’s all that matters.”

Crear qualified in the 100 hurdles by finishing fourth in a personal-best 14.09. She failed to advance in the 300 hurdles in 44.29 after making the Masters with one of the meet’s best times.

Aguirre tied for third in the high jump at 6-5; South Pasadena sophomore Claire Kieffer-Wright, who tied for third in the high jump at 5-5 on her third and final attempt and Temple City senior Philippe Ueng, who cleared 15-3 in the pole vault on his first attempt.

All advanced to state.

Three area athletes advanced in the 400. Arcadia senior Alex McElwee was third in 48.48, San Marino’s Kyle Ezold fourth in 48.60 and La Serna’s German Fabela fifth in 48.69.

Damien’s Gonzales, who has the state’s top 300 hurdles time, struggled to find his step on the hurdles and finished fourth in 37.61. Diamond Ranch’s Fischer ran 37.79.

Among those who did not qualify were Arcadia’s Tony Moseley was eighth in the 800 in 1:54.51; Glendora’s Rocki Bartholomew, eighth in the discus at 132-7; Monrovia’s Michael Harris, ninth in the triple jump at 45-5 3/4 and the Damien 1,600 relay team of Kenneth Armstrong, Michael Sanchez, Gonzales and Hayden Clase, which was ninth in 3:21.38.

Damien’s Tracey Logan was 11th in the discus in 159-11 and Santa Fe’s Lucas Bedolla 12th in the long jump in 21-1 3/4.

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