Randy Angel

Local pole vaulters, runners compete for State Track & Field championships

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Senior Xavier Court earned the top seed at this weekend’s State Track & Field Championships after posting a personal best time of 9 minutes, 1.78 seconds in the 3200 meters. Photo by Damian Court

by Randy Angel

The Bay League will be well represented at this weekend’s State Track & Field Championships in Clovis with four individuals and one relay team competing.

On the boys side, Mira Costa distance runner Xavier Court is peeking at the right time, becoming the top seed in the 3200 after setting a new personal record at the Masters Meet with a time of 9:01.78.

“For me to have a chance to win is to remain calm and conserve energy during the race while being aware of lap times and what the other runners are doing,” the senior said. “This is how it played out at Masters. It was exhilarating not just to get the win, but also break the 3200m school record that Jeff Atkinson has held for more than 35 years.”

After being injured his first two seasons, Court has been tracking the lead runners in the state knowing who his toughest competition will be. In 2017, Court had the opportunity to watch senior teammate Caleb Llorin, compete in the 3200 and was enthused by the electric atmosphere at the meet.

“I have been following my coaches’ running plans and seeing the rewards pay off. I have to thank Coach (Robert) Calderon and Coach (Jeff) Atkinson for their endless support the past four years, and also tailoring plans for me, particularly during times when I might have a minor or major injury. My teammates have also been very helpful in the post season, particularly the varsity team, continuing to train with me when they could be enjoying a break.”

Mira Costa’s Brigette Grau and Redondo’s Amari Turner will compete in the girls pole vault after strong seasons.

Both girls are juniors. Grau is earning her second consecutive trip to the State competition. She is seeded 3rd after clearing 12 feet, 5 inches at the Masters Meet held last Saturday at El Camino College.

It marked the 10th time this season Grau has cleared the 12-foot mark, with her personal best coming at the Bay League finals with a height of 12-9. In 2017, Grau finished 12th at State with a mark of 12-0.

Mira Costa junior Brigette Grau looks to improve on her 12th-place finish in the pole vault at the 2017 State Championships after earning the 3rd seed entering this weekend’s State Meet in Clovis. Photo by Ray Vidal

“I’m so happy with placing 2nd at Masters, especially because it is a big improvement on how I placed last year (11-10, 11th place),” Grau said. “My performance on Saturday has reassured me that I can jump those big bars next weekend and peak right at the end of the season.”

Grau is confident she will place much higher after another year of experience.

“I’ve worked harder than ever before this season so earning that third seed going into State makes me really proud and excited for this meet,” Grau said. “I’ll be competing amongst so many talented vaulters and my goal is to first qualify for the finals, and then to put out my best performance on Saturday. A personal record would be absolutely amazing, and jumping 13-feet would be my ultimate dream.”

Turner hopes to rebound from a subpar performance at the Masters Meet when she posted a mark of 11-11. The previous week at the CIF Division 1 Finals, Turner set a personal best clearing the bar at 12-10. She has cleared the 12-foot mark seven times this season,.

Turner will also represent the Sea Hawks as a member of the 4×100 relay team with freshman Julia Ausland, junior Mahkaia Lee and senior Indica Showell. The team is seeded 9th with a time of 47.43.

“Until Chloe Curtis made the State 800 final in 2008, it had been 27 years since a Redondo athlete qualified for State,” Redondo coach Bob Leetch said. “Since then we have advanced two or more athletes every year. It’s the hardest meet in the country to make.”

Also representing the Bay League will be Palos Verdes’ Ian Irish who earned a 9th seed in the 800 with a time 1:53.39

West Torrance will be sending two boys to State with Rory Abberton earning the 2nd seed in the 1600 after breaking his personal record of 4:12.13 set the previous week with a new best time of 4:11.26.

Caleb Terrill is seeded 10th in the 800 with a time of 1:53.41, surpassing his personal record of 1:53.47 set the previous week at the Masters meet.

Other local athletes competed in the Masters Meet but did not qualify for the State Meet.

Mira Costa’s Andrew Sandberg and Calvin Oury placed 9th and 10th, respectively, in the boys pole vault with marks of 14-03.

Bishop Montgomery’s Jordan Bayliss finished 11th in the boys high jump with a mark of 6-02 and Peninsula’s Jessica Nye finished 9th in the girls 800 with a time of 2:15.31.

For results, visit cifstate.org.

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