By Miguel Melendez, Staff Writer
CLOVIS - The San Gabriel Valley was well-represented at the CIF State track and field championships with South Pasadena’s Claire Kieffer-Wright and Damien’s Jarrett Gonzales bringing home titles Saturday in front of 7,123 at Buchanan High School.
Kieffer-Wright is a sophomore who showed a lot of promise early in the season. She hit her stride Saturday in the high jump by clearing 5 feet, 10 inches to win the West San Gabriel Valley’s first state title since South Pasadena’s Sam Pons two years ago in the 3,200 meters.
Gonzales made quite the turnaround, from not even reaching the Serra League finals because of an injury to capturing a state title by winning the 300 hurdles with a time of 37.30 seconds.
Kieffer-Wright got off to a shaky start Saturday and missed her first attempt at 5-3.
“It was really nerve-wracking missing my first attempt,” she said. “I was a little shaky but I knew I had to compete. That’s the main thing in the high jump besides form and technique, to be able to brush off mistakes and be mentally tough.”
After clearing the winning mark, Kieffer-Wright opted to continue and made an attempt at clearing 6-0 3/4, the qualifying mark for the Olympic trials. Kieffer-Wright made two attempts and ended there because of back problems, but the mere fact she had the opportunity to do so showed the giant strides she made since narrowly qualifying at the Masters Meet on May 25.
“At Masters my legs didn’t feel ready,” she said. “Today I felt ready and felt a lot more confident than on my third attempt at 5-5, which luckily I got over so I can come and do this.”
Gonzales said a gust of winds right off the blocks worried him a bit, but it wasn’t long before he hit his full stride and felt it was his race to lose.
“Coming off the last hurdle on the curve and just opening up my stride and sprinting all the way through,” said Gonzales when asked when he felt the race was his.
He didn’t break a personal mark, but the UCLA-bound Gonzales said it was an amazing accomplishment. Gonzales pulled a left hamstring and rolled his left ankle in a meet before the start of league his junior season.
“I had an opportunity to run at the world youth trials,” Gonzales said. “I asked my coach and he said I should recover and rehabilitate.”
In the same race, Diamond Ranch’s Andrew Fischer finished ninth with a time of 38.35.
Maranatha’s Ebony Crear accomplished her goal of reaching the state finals in the 100 hurdles. She finished seventh in 14.18.
Crear, the sophomore daughter of two-time Olympic medalist Mark Crear, almost didn’t finish the race.
“The third hurdle I hit it with my right leg and buckled,” she said.
“But I’m just happy I was able to recuperate and keep going. Just do my best because I hit the hurdle.”
In the 400, Arcadia’s Alex McElwee finished seventh at 48.86 while San Marino’s Kyle Ezold, in his first year running track, was eighth at 49.50.
Bonita sophomore Nikki Wheatley finished eighth in the triple jump with a mark of 37-8 3/4.
La Salle’s Daniel De La Torre finished fourth in the 1,600 with a time 9:06.60.
Arcadia’s Sergio Gonzalez, who scratched from the 1,600 preliminaries, finished fifth in 9:10.46.