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On the beat T&F: Your CIF championship preview

Posted: May 23, 2014 10:35 p.m.
Updated: May 23, 2014 10:35 p.m.
 

The Santa Clarita Valley has a pretty good track record at the CIF-Southern Section track and field finals – forgive the pun.

And given the area’s strong history in the sport, it makes today a pretty big one at Cerritos College, where 26 local athletes representing all six Foothill League schools will compete for CIF titles.

Last year was an odd one as the SCV failed to take home a single CIF crown for the first time since 2003.

That year, Alysia Johnson (the Olympic runner who now goes by Alysia Montano) finished second in the 800 meters as a junior.

There were a few runner-up finishes last year as well, but in a proud community like this, it’s CIF title or bust.

Let’s examine some of the local athletes who have the best chance of taking home CIF gold this weekend.

Nathan Bultman: Though he’ll be competing in two events, the West Ranch junior has serious first-place potential in the shot put. His school-record throw of 62 feet, 4 inches at last week’s CIF prelims gives him the top mark in Division I. A repeat performance should win it for him.

Brett Molster: The Canyon senior returns to the CIF finals in the high jump, where he ranks right near the top this season in Division II. He leapt as high as 6-9 this year and if he can do it again, it might just win him a title.

Brian Zabilski: In the fall, the Saugus junior emerged as this valley’s big cross country star. Now he has a chance to shine on the track when he’ll try for a big finish in the 3,200. It will be a tall task to beat Villa Park High’s Garrett Corcoran, but Zabilski has a very good chance at a podium finish either way.
And there are a few others who may not necessarily win, but could perform well enough to qualify for the CIF-SS Masters Meet next week and move one step closer to the state championships. The top nine overall finishers in most events, regardless of division, move on to the Masters Meet with the top 12 moving on in distance races.

Samiyah Hawkins: This could be the second straight year a Golden Valley thrower advances to the Masters Meet. Hawkins, a senior, may have to add a foot or two to her personal best discus mark of 133-7 to get through, but she’s capable.

Jeremy Kimmer: Last year, Kimmer went all the way to the state finals in the high jump and now the Canyon senior is trying to do so in the pole vault. Though his 15-feet leap broke a Foothill League record two weeks ago, he might need to go a bit higher to advance through a very talented Southern Section field.

Briana Pica: Speaking of the pole vault, Pica is trying to get back to the Masters Meet for the second straight year in the event. The Valencia senior has reached 11-4 this season, and if she can do it again, there’s a good chance she’ll make a return trip.

Alex Pearson: You get the feeling Pearson is saving his best for last this season. The Saugus senior is ranked 11th in the Southern Section 1,600-meter with a season-best time of 4:14.01 but there’s no reason to think he can’t knock a couple seconds off that and qualify.

Ashley Heys: Once again, it’s hard to count any Saugus distance runner out given how well they usually perform in the postseason. Heys was the surprise winner of the 3,200 at Foothill League finals and she could spring another surprise at CIF finals.

Natalie Rodriguez: No doubt, Rodriguez must be motivated by her extremely narrow loss to Heys in the 3,200 at Foothill finals by 0.01 seconds. The Canyon senior has a chance for redemption today.

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