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Drake's quick history

Valencia sprinter's transition to 800 reaps record time, CIF title

Posted: June 6, 2009 10:05 p.m.
Updated: June 7, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 

CLOVIS – Valencia senior Aly Drake blitzed past Marlborough’s Carlyle Davis in the 800-meter finals almost as fast as she burst on to the track scene.

“She’s impressed me more than anyone I’ve coached in 42 years,” said Valencia head coach Pat Connelly.

Under the lights at Buchanan High School Saturday evening, Drake out-kicked Davis over the last 70 meters to win the state title at the CIF State Track and Field Championships.

Her time of 2 minutes, 7.45 seconds is not only a personal record, but it’s the top time in the history of the Santa Clarita Valley, besting former Canyon runner Alysia Johnson’s mark of 2:08.97.

Quite an accomplishment for someone who only got serious about the 800 a few months ago.

Drake primarily ran shorter races in her first three years with the team, but before her senior season began, sprints coach Darryl De La Vega sat down with Drake and decided that the 800 would bring her the most success on the track.

Did it ever.

“At the beginning of the year, I predicted I’d stop in the 800 at the CIF (Divisional) finals, and it just kept going and going,” Drake said.

With Davis in her sights the entire race, Drake used some of that sprinter mentality to push across the finish line in 2 minutes, 7.45 seconds. It was enough to edge Davis – who, like Drake, is known for her strong kick – by .37 seconds.

“She had it in her,” De La Vega said. “This season, she’d run the 400 in meets and come back to the 800. I think it helped her.”

Her track prowess has also helped her earn a full-ride scholarship to the University of San Francisco.

Drake’s first love is soccer, and she committed to the Dons’ program this past winter. But the scholarship only covered 70 percent of her tuition.

That’s where track came in.

The USF track and field program offered to her a scholarship shortly after she ran a 2:09.95 at the CIF-Southern Section Division I championships two weeks ago, and she signed an official letter of intent last Tuesday.

With a berth in the state finals and her future taken care of, Drake had every reason be satisfied with what she’d accomplished.

Not in her eyes.

"I enjoy competing and winning,” she said. “The races I’ve done this year are great experience for next year when I run. I never expected it to happen. Now, it’s kind of hard to grasp.”

Drake will eventually grasp how much she’s accomplished over such a short period of time.

Meanwhile, this relatively untapped track talent slipped through the grasp of others. After watching the race, Connelly ran into a Stanford track coach he’d called on Drake’s behalf.

The coach didn’t take him seriously at the time.

“I tapped him on the shoulder,” Connelly said. “I said, ‘That’s the girl I called you about a month ago. It’s too late.’”

jgulino@the-signal.com

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