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Prep track and field: Stage set for big finish

League finals heats determined at Tuesday’s prelims

Posted: May 2, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: May 2, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Hart High runner Austin O’Neil, center, leads the pack of runners in the 1600 at College of the Canyons on Tuesday.

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On the track, there are plenty of athletes who have a realistic shot at a winning Foothill League title.
Those athletes will run against each other on Friday.

On Tuesday, they ran separately.

The Foothill League held its prelims in 14 different varsity events at College of the Canyons, with the relays, 3,200-meter race and field events scheduled only for finals on Friday.

One of the top races figures to be the boys 1,600, with as many as five different runners who are legitimate contenders. Golden Valley’s Kristian Martinez won his heat at prelims with the top overall time of 4 minutes, 15.96 seconds, while Hart’s Austin O’Neil won his heat in 4:19.44.

Other finals qualifiers included Golden Valley’s Juan David Garcia, Saugus’ A.J. Yarnall and Hart’s Sam Peckham, and those five represent the fastest times in the league this season.

In the boys 800, O’Neil (1:56.17) and Martinez (1:56.43) won heats, as did West Ranch’s Pierce Miller (1:58.4) to lead the eight-man finals contingent.

The 1,600 and 3,200 finals will feature 12 runners, while all the other track events will feature eight.

The sprints will likely come down to Canyon and Valencia’s strong corps. In the 100, Vikings teammates James Berkley (11.19 seconds) and Michael Carter (11.41) both won heats, as did Canyon’s Drew Wolitarsky (11.3).

As for the 200, Berkley again won a heat with a time of 22.29 seconds, while teammate Michael Kojin (22.53) and Canyon’s Dominic Pennucci (22.46) were also heat winners.

West Ranch’s Chu Oguejiofer broke up the Canyon/Valencia dominance in the 400 with the fastest overall time of 49.83 seconds, while only a tenth of a second separated Valencia’s Clint Gingrich (50.44) and Pennucci (50.45) as the other two heat winners.

Canyon’s Brenden Stach and Hart’s Riley Stauffer emerged over the course of the season as the favorites in the hurdle races, and they backed it up on Tuesday. Stach had the fastest overall time in the 110 hurdles at 15.6 seconds, while Stauffer’s 300 hurdles time of 40.21 seconds led the field.

West Ranch’s Kevin Sweeney was also a heat winner in the 110 hurdles in 15.75 seconds, while Stauffer’s teammate, Conner West, won the other heat of the 300 hurdles in 40.67 seconds.

The girls 800 finals looks like it will be a battle between Golden Valley’s Chelsey Totten and West Ranch’s Ashley Welker, Tuesday’s heat winners with times of 2:15.51 and 2:16.57, respectively.

Totten is also the favorite in the 1,600, although her prelims time of 5:09.15 reflected her desire to simply qualify for finals. Saugus’ Jenay Jauregui won the other heat with a time of 5:05.42, and she and several other runners should push Totten for the title.

Canyon’s Taylor Thomas will try to polish off an undefeated four-year varsity career in the hurdles races on Friday. On Tuesday, her times of 15.24 seconds in the 100 hurdles and 47.25 in the 300 hurdles were both top overall.

Golden Valley’s Lexi Wardlow (16.82) and Caitlyn Zindroski (17.09) were also heat winners in the 100 hurdles, while Hart’s Lindsey Estrada (47.73) won the other 300 hurdles heat.

Canyon’s Erica Anunwah (12.83) and Golden Valley’s Imani Dixon (12.96) were heat winners in the 100, while West Ranch’s Xiomara Perkins (25.61) and Valencia’s Chanel Rogers (25.66) and Sandra Ikeora (26.06) won the three 200 heats.

Rogers also had the fastest overall time in the 400 prelims at 57.81 seconds, and the other heat winner was Hart’s Kelsey Steck in 58.39 seconds.

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