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Youth takes center stage

Posted: May 23, 2009 9:48 p.m.
Updated: May 24, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
The level of the competition. The roar of the crowd. The enormity of the moment.

The CIF-Southern Section Divisional championship track meet can be intimidating to any youngsters.

Given the circumstances, the future faces of the Foothill League acquitted themselves nicely on Saturday.

“This is a totally new experience,” said Saugus distance runner Stephanie Bulder. “There is a lot of pressure to do as well as the girls have done, but I just go out and run and do my best.”

Just a sophomore, Bulder finished second in the Division II 1,600-meter run. She was also second in the 3,200, pushing teammate, classmate and eventual champion Kaylin Mahoney to do so.

Mahoney was third in the state in the 3,200 as a freshman, and she welcomed the competition.

“She said she wasn’t going to give it up,” Mahoney said. “We’re teammates, but at the same time we’re pushing each other.”
Canyon freshman Tiffini Stone was equally impressive, finishing third in the Division II long jump.

Like Bulder, Stone respected the level of competition but also put it out of her mind.

“It’s kind of hard going against seniors and juniors,” she said. “Then you don’t think about age and you just go out and jump.”

A pair of West Ranch sophomores didn’t succumb to the pressure, either.

Breeann Braucher tossed a 38-5 3/4 in the Division I shot put, besting her old mark of 37-11 1/2. Jennifer Owen uncorked a fourth-place time of 4:59.26 in the Division I 1,600, and she knows what she has to work on if she wants to return next year.

“I just need to push myself harder,” she said. “I was focused. It was fun just running.”

Valencia will be able to count on the contributions of sophomore Jasmine Hall, who won four separate Foothill League titles and finished fifth in the Division I high jump Saturday.

Freshman Karis Frankian was a key contributor in the Centurions’ push for second place as a team. Frankian finished third in the 3,200 at 10:44.35, and her coach believes that athletes making their championship debuts can be more relaxed.

“The newcomers’ advantage is they don’t know completely what it’s about,” said Saugus head coach Christian Standley. “Seniors have the experience, or know it could be their last event. When you’re new to it, you don’t have that hanging over you.”

If Saturday’s divisional championships are any indication, plenty of Foothill League athletes will have medals hanging around their necks in the near future.

jgulino@the-signal.com

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