Randy Angel

Four pole vaulters among local track athletes aiming for State meet

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Redondo pole vaulter Amari Turner cleared a personal-best 12 feet, 10 inches and will be one of four local pole vaulters to compete in Saturday’s CIF Masters Meet at El Camino College. Photo by Ray Vidal

by Randy Angel

The Bay League has reached new heights this track and field season with four pole vaulters advancing to Saturday’s CIF Masters Meet at El Camino College.

The top six finishers in each event will advance to the State Championships on Friday and Saturday, June 1-2 at Buchanan High School in Clovis.

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Mira Costa will be represented by vaulters Brigette Grau along with boys Calvin Oury and Andrew Sandberg. But the big story was the performance of Redondo junior Amari Turner who captured the Division 1 pole vault title with a personal-best 12 feet, 10 inches, four inches more than her previous top mark.

“Finishing as the Division 1 Champion with a new PR was really exciting and I couldn’t be happier,” Turner said. “The competition at this point in the season is always super intense and just having the opportunity to jump with some of the top high school vaulters, not only in California but in the nation, is an experience I’ll never forget and I’m blessed to be a part of.

Brigette Grau stands with fellow Mira Costa pole vaulters  Calvin “Gus” Oury, left, and Andrew “Drew” Sandberg after all three qualified for this weekend’s CIF Masters Meet. Photo courtesy of Ruth Grau

I love CIF because you can’t help but commit to your best jumps. I really want to give a huge thank you to my coaching staff. Bob (Leetch) has put together an amazing team in Coach Stephen Kelly and Coach Dave Dill. Without them I definitely would not have made it this far.

Going into the next two weeks, I hope to just continue having fun and doing what I love which is to jump high and run fast.”

Mira Costa junior Brigette Grau placed 2nd clearing the bar at 12 feet for the ninth time this season. She set the school record of 12-9 which is two feet higher than Christina Harding’s mark of 10-8 set in 2009.

In boys competition, senior Calvin Oury came in 3rd (14-foot-6 jump) and junior Andrew Sandberg finished 6th (14-0).

Sending three pole vaulters to compete at Masters is a first for Mira Costa Coach Murray Mead. Mira Costa is the only school to have three vaulters make it this far.

“This season we had two boys clear 15 feet for only the second time in Costa’s history and Brigette Grau raised her record to 12-9,” Mead said. “All three have vaulted high enough to make it to the state finals. And as tough as this group has been all season, I have a feeling that they will once again draw on each other’s strength and get to go to Clovis together. My best team ever.”

Redondo will also be sending its 4×100 relay team of juniors Mahkaia Lee and Amari Turner, freshman Katherine Kluver and senior Indica Showell. The team finished third in Division 1 with a time of 47.76 seconds.

“Saturday, we had our minds set on securing a spot in the top nine,” said Showell, who has battled back from an injury this season..”Even though our handoffs weren’t the best, we ran our fastest time all season and are now Redondo’s first 4×100 team to advance to Masters.

“All of us are confident that with another week of working hard at practice we’ll be able to bring our time down further. Next week, as long as we stay confident in our own abilities, we believe we have what it takes to be our schools first 4×100 team to move on to State.”

Turner is also anticipating the Masters Meet and a chance to compete at the State Meet.

Mira Costa distance runner Xavier Court won the Division 1 3200 race setting a personal record of 9 minutes, 4.49 seconds. Photo by Damian Court

“I couldn’t be happier that our 4×100 team is moving on to Masters.” Turner said. “We’ve been training really hard and we’ve been looking for any way we can to get a faster times over the past few weeks. Seeing all of our dedication and hard work paying off is really amazing and I’m so proud of our team. I’m eager to see how we’ll run at Masters but no matter the outcome, I know we’re gonna give it our all to move onto State.”

Mira Costa will also be represented by Division 1 3200-meter champion Xavier Court who ran a personal-best time of 9:04.49. His time is less than one second behind the school’s all-time record holder – and present coach – Jeff Atkinson who posted a mark of 9:03.8 in 1988.

“It’s been four years in the making of finding the right balance of intensity and volume,” Mira Costa coach Roberto Calderon explained. “Combining his personalized training with his bright running IQ, Xavier’s potential is limitless.”

Court’s time is the 8th best in the state this season. The senior also holds the state’s top spot in the 1600 and 1-mile events.

“Overall I was very happy with the win, along with a new PR,” Court said. “The Masters will push the pace harder as we all chase that sub-9 minute barrier for the two mile. Then on to State if all goes to plan. At State all sections are merging so the competition will be very tough with 2-3 Northern Californians who have run some incredible races to date.“

Coach Moe Russell remarked “Each week our athletes continue to show they have what it takes to be successful in their events as they advance through the CIF rounds. We are proud of our Mustangs. Their hard work and determination has earned them a spot at CIF Masters.”

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