Gordon, Quirke out strong at state track meet - San Jose Mercury News

NORWALK - In preparation for her shot at state track and field history, Vashti Thomas spent part of Friday night in an ice bath.

That was about the only thing that was going to cool down the Mount Pleasant senior.

Thomas ended her high school career with three more state titles Saturday - scoring all 30 points for Mt. Pleasant, which finished second to Long Beach Poly (39).

Thomas defended her title in the 100-meter hurdles in 13.44 seconds, beating Julian Purvis of St. Elizabeth (13.55).

She also dominated the long jump (20 feet, 0 1/4 inches) and the triple jump (42-0 1/2), becoming the first girl to win three events in the state meet since Angela Williams of Chino in 1998.

"I really haven't thought about how I'll be remembered in this meet," said Thomas, who will compete at Texas A&M next year. "I don't follow the history of track - I just like to run and jump.

"Today the hardest event was definitely the hurdles. I got off to a nice start, but I could feel Purvis coming up on me. I was thinking 'No way, this is my senior year - I have to go out fighting.' "

Last year, Thomas won the 100 hurdles with a national high school record time of 13.03 and finished second in the triple jump and third in the long jump.

"I've seen a certain mental focus come into play in the last few weeks," said Thomas' jump coach, Jamal Elmidge. "Her technique has started to come naturally - she's not thinking, but jumping instinctively. She came to this meet with all eyes on her - and her performance shows what kind of competitor she is."

In the 800 final, Palo Alto's Mia Lattanzi made a dramatic move down the home stretch and fell just short, finishing second to Culver City's Anniya Louis, who leaned at the finish line to win in 2 minutes, 10.29 seconds, three-hundredths of a second in front of Lattanzi.

"It was pretty bunched up coming in the last 200 meters, I was trying to keep up but didn't want to move to the outside," said Lattanzi, who finished second in the same race as a sophomore. "I had a half lane and was able to slip by everyone. I was thinking this is my last high school race, I better have a good kick. I'm proud of myself because I gave it everything I had."

Homestead's Sarah Engle finished third in the pole vault, setting a personal best by clearing 12-6. The senior bested her previous mark by three inches.

"I changed my outlook - I had been too focused on winning and worrying about my PRs," Engle said. "I decided to have some fun and enjoy myself at this meet, and then the heights came. It was a great atmosphere."

Milpitas' Luisa Musika won her first state medal, taking fifth place in the shot put with a throw of 47-1 1/4.

"I got it on my last throw - I'm honored to be up there with the best girls in the state," she said.

Evergreen Valley's Golde Ibia was fifth in the 100 hurdles (14.29). Valley Christian's Dahyls Marshall bounced back from a disappointing performance in the hurdles to place fifth in the 200 meters with a time of 24.18 seconds.

Christine Babcock of Woodbridge (Irvine) set a national record in winning the 1,600 in 4:33.82.

NORWALK - The crowd cheered as Los Gatos' Nico Weiler eyed the bar, set at 17 feet, 6 1/2 inches at the end of the pole-vault runway.

Weiler nearly cleared his best height ever, brushing the bar and knocking it off. By then it didn't matter. The Wildcats senior already had clinched victory. He easily repeated as state champion and beat his own meet record by an inch, clearing 17-3 in front of 10,712 fans at Cerritos College on Saturday. Justin Miller of California High was second at 16 feet.

That added 10 points for Los Gatos, which tied for second with Long Beach Poly with 32 points. Dominguez-Compton won with 36 points.

"I didn't get that last jump I wanted, but I'm still excited about setting the meet record," Weiler said. "I'm even happier about finishing second as a team. We've all become close hanging out at the track every day. It was a great end to a great season."

The Wildcats had the best performance in school history thanks to the strength of their field-event athletes. Senior Colin Quirke finished second in the shot put with a throw of 62-0; Foothill's Dayshan Ragans won with a mark of 62-10.

Then Quirke reported to the discus ring and delivered a career best of 188-11, good for third place.

"I guess I was a little mad after not winning the shot put - I wanted to do something to make up for that," Quirke said. "I still had the longest throw in the state in the shot put this year, but it came yesterday - I wish it was today."

Los Gatos also got a big contribution from senior Kevin Rutledge, who came tantalizingly close to winning the long jump.

Rutledge took the lead on his third jump of 23-4, and he held it until the last jumper could beat him. La Mirada's Cameron Gillette came through with a jump of 24-1 3/4. Rutledge had one more chance but fell short at 23-9 1/2.

"I had my fingers crossed that my jump would hold up," Rutledge said. "It was a clutch jump to beat me, but I'm very excited about my performance. It was a little intimidating competing with these guys, so I'm not going to lie - getting second was awesome."

Oak Grove's Sebastian Sam ran another excellent race in the 800 meters, finishing third in a replay of his qualifying heat Friday night. Mission Bay's Charles Jock (1 minute, 51.64 seconds) finished strong to pass Sam (1:52.52) and Derek Thomas of Arroyo in the final 30 meters.

"I ran a 55-second first lap and was coasting with Thomas coming into the last 100 meters, that is exactly where I wanted to be," Sam said. "We were battling back and forth and he had a strong kick. It was a great race, I enjoyed it. But this isn't the end of my track career, I think the best is yet to come as I mature and compete at Cal."

German Fernandez of Riverbank High, near Modesto, was the star of the meet, winning the 1,600 in 4:00.29, the second-fastest time in the 90-year history of the state meet.

Two-and-a-half hours later, he was back in the 3,200, setting a national high school record with a time of 8:34.23.

Alisal's Diego Estrada, the CCS 3,200 champion, finished fourth in 9:04.80.

Lynbrook's Eric Suprenant hit a couple of hurdles in the 300 final and finished ninth with a time of 39.28.

Aptos' Rylan Hunt was fourth in the 1,600 in 4:13.38. Archbishop Mitty's Drew Gordon finished seventh in the discus at 176-06.

NORWALK - The gun went off for a heat in the girls 100-meter hurdles Friday, and a murmur arose from the 8,542 track fans at Cerritos College.

Where was Vashti Thomas?

The Mt. Pleasant star didn't disappear for long. She rebounded quickly from a bad start to dominate over the last five hurdles and win her qualifying heat, albeit with a disappointing time of 13.94.

But qualifying for today's final was the goal for the Texas A&M-bound senior, and she did it in all three of her events. Her long jump of 18-feet, 9 1/4 inches was the second-best mark of the day and she led the way in the triple jump with a leap of 41-1.

"I didn't want to false start and I came straight up out of the blocks," said Thomas, who set a national high school record of 13.03 in winning the 100 hurdle final last year. "I was thinking 'wow this isn't right.' Then I started getting my legs down where they were supposed to be."

Thomas admitted it was tough changing gears going from the jumping pit to the hurdles.

"I had to turn one switch off and another one on," Thomas said.

But coach Steve Nelson believes Thomas will rise to the occasion today when she faces Julian Purvis of St. Elizabeth, who was the top qualifier (13.64).

"Some coaches would worry after watching Vashti struggle at the start of that race, but I think that is going to motivate her," Nelson said. "She is a little mad about that mistake, and when she gets mad she is like a viper. When she wants to win, she'll win."

The Central Coast Section will be well-represented in the 100 hurdle final as Valley Christian's Dahlys Marshall won her heat (13.84) and Evergreen Valley's Golde Ibia (14.16) also earned a spot in the race. Marshall also qualified sixth in the 200 with a time of 24.07.

The 800 meters will have a CCS flavor too after strong runs by Palo Alto's Mia Lattanzi (2:10.64) and Leigh's Jordan Diaz (2:11.13), who both finished second in their heats and qualified fourth and fifth.

"That was a fun race," said Diaz, a sophomore. "I came into the last 400 and figured I better make my move, this is my last shot."

It will be the second shot in the final for the Stanford-bound Lattanzi, who won a silver medal in the 800 her sophomore year.

"I learned as a sophomore that it's a totally different race when you've pushed yourself the night before," Lattanzi said. "It was a fast pace. I hate that because part of me says to keep going, but I wanted to save something for tomorrow."

Homestead's Sarah Engle was one of four pole vaulters to clear 12-3, and she qualified first along with Kelsy Hintz of Del Norte.

Milpitas senior Luisa Musika reached her first state final in the shot put, qualifying sixth with a throw of 41-4.

Leland's Katie Nelms continues to impress in her sophomore season. She reached the final in the 300-meter hurdles taking second in her heat and qualifying fifth with a time of 42.06.

In the 1,600, San Lorenzo Valley's Taylor Johnson qualified seventh (4:57.31) while her Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League rival Marissa Ferrante (4:54.26) heads into the finals with the fourth-best time.

NORWALK - Archbishop Mitty's Drew Gordon unleashed the best discus throw of his life Friday at the 90th annual CIF State High School Track and Field Championship with a mark of 180 feet 2 inches to qualify for today's final.

But the UCLA-bound senior has another milestone to celebrate today in San Jose - Mitty's graduation ceremonies.

Gordon plans to participate in both events - building up his frequent flier points in the process.

"Graduation is pretty important, it's something that I didn't want to miss," said Gordon, whose throw was the fourth-best of the day behind Dayhsan Regans of Foothill (203-07).

After undergoing minor knee surgery to repair a frayed meniscus three weeks ago, the cross-over basketball star has felt more comfortable on the discus ring than throwing the shot.

"I tried to relax and not think about it too much," Gordon said. "But these are the last couple of throws of my track career and I wanted to make them count."

Gordon's graduation ceremony begins at 9 a.m. today. He hopes to catch a flight south at about 1 p.m. to give him plenty of time for the discus final, which starts at 5 p.m. at Cerritos College.

Shoulder and groin injuries have slowed Los Gatos shot putter Colin Quirke this year, but he has made a breakthrough in recent workouts.

Quirke let loose with the longest qualifying throw Friday. His personal record of 63-6 easily beat second-place Blake Poole of Esperanza (60-9 3/4), but the laid-back Quirke said his best is yet to come.

"I was taking it pretty easy. I was hoping to get the school record of 63-11, but that should come tomorrow," said Quirke, who also qualified fifth in the discus (180-1). "Going against top throwers in a meet like this, it kind of wakes you up. But today was nothing major, I was just worried about qualifying."

Quirke's teammate Kevin Rutledge qualified fifth in the long jump with a mark of 23- 3/4. San Mateo junior Kendall Spencer qualified third (23-4 1/2).

Wildcat pole vaulter Nico Weiler, the defending state champion, was the top qualifier with a mark of 15-6. The other eight qualifiers were at 15 feet.

Oak Grove senior Sebastian Sam ran a personal-best 1:52.92 in the 800 and finished third in his heat - good for the third fastest time of the night. Sam finished fourth in the final last year.

"The first lap was 53 seconds and I felt it in the last 100 meters," Sam said. "I was trying to conserve so I would have something left for tomorrow. I think I can go faster. I'm going to try to hit 1:50 in the final."

Lynbrook's Eric Surprenant ran another personal best in the 300 hurdles qualifying fifth with a time of 37.63. He barely missed qualifying in the 110 hurdles, finishing 10th with a time of 14.446.

Carlmont's Brad Surh (4:12.88) and Aptos' Rylan Hunt (4:14.49) both qualified for the finals in the 1,600 meters. German Fernandez of Riverbank was the top qualifier with a time of (4:11.62).