SANTA ROSA – While the 2019 season ended for a majority of the remaining St. Helena track and field athletes at the North Coast Section Class A Championships last weekend, six of the Saints’ top runners set qualifying marks and will continue on to the NCS Meet of Champions this weekend at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill.
The contingent is comprised of five boys and one girl, all of whom have been standouts all season.
On the boys’ side, junior sprinter Ryan Searl will compete in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, as well as the 4x100 relay with freshman Ivan Robledo, senior Christian Iano, and juniors Jacob Lehman and Cody DiTomaso.
Lehman will also compete as an individual in the 110 hurdles.
The lone girl moving on for the Saints is sophomore Harper McClain, who qualified in both the 1600 and 3200 meters but will scratch the former and focus her efforts on the latter.
“We’re taking a solid team with the 4x100 and Ryan in the 100 and the 200 and Jake in the 110 hurdles and Harper in the two mile,” said St. Helene head coach Dave Pauls after the conclusion of the Class A Meet at Montgomery High School on Saturday.
The St. Helena boys finished fourth in team scoring with 39 points, conceding to eventual champion Fort Bragg. The girls finished ninth with 21 points as Middletown continued its dominant season with a meet-best 75 points. But the emphasis of Saturday’s meet was more about qualifying for MOC rather than winning the team competition.
When asked how he thought the day went, Pauls simply replied, “Outstanding.”
The meet began with the boys 4x100 relay team improving on the school record it had already set this season, winning the race in 43.54 seconds. That’s the 11th-fastest qualifying time for the MOC.
The race that followed was the girls 1600, which featured a tight race between McClain and Branson’s Callie Jones. Jones jumped out to a lead from the starting gun and led for a majority of the race as McClain trailed close behind, waiting for an opportunity to make her move. She did so with a little over 200 yards to go, surging ahead with a mean kick to finish in a personal-best time of 5:01.04, just ahead of Jones’ 5:02.28.
“I felt like my mile was pretty good,” McClain said. “I had a pretty good finish but it’s annoying that I got 5:01. I’m really close (to breaking 5:00) and last time I got 5:02, so I’m inching my way towards it.”
McClain didn’t have to work as hard in the 3200, which she considers her best event. She went on to easily win the race in 10:56, over 20 seconds better than the second-place Jones.
McClain said she can’t wait to compete against a stacked field in the 3200. She faced a majority of the same runners in April at the Viking Classic, where she finished fourth, and she’ll enter the MOC with the fourth-fastest seed time.
“I’m excited because I really want to pace with somebody and stick with that person, hang with them, and then beat them in the last bit and do what I’ve been practicing with finishes,” she said. “I’m just excited to be amongst a lot of fast people.”
Not long after the 1600 concluded, Lehman set his MOC-qualifying mark in the 110 hurdles, finishing second in 15.94 seconds. He’ll be the 20th-seeded performer in the event at MOC.
A bit later, Searl punched his ticket to the season’s penultimate meet. He tied his personal record in the 100 with a 10.88, good for second place. About an hour later, he followed up that performance with a second-place finish in the 200 in a time of 22.42. He enters the MOC with the fourth-fastest 100 qualifying time and the 11th-fastest 200 time.
Searl has been battling an injury this season, and it’s flared up in the last few weeks. He’s focusing on staying as healthy as possible as he stares down a very real opportunity to qualify for the state meet. The top three finishers from MOC will move on to next weekend’s state meet at Buchanan High School in Clovis.
But Searl isn’t looking too far ahead. He’s just focused on the next task at hand.
“At MOC, I just want to make it to Day 2,” he said. “That’s the goal here, just make it to Day 2 and I’ll be happy.”
The MOC will hold prelims starting on Friday. The winners of each heat will automatically qualify for Saturday’s finals, and the remainder of the field will be filled out by the next fastest times. There will be no prelims for the 3200, so McClain will race with the full field on Saturday only.
Other performers at Class A Meet
Here’s how St. Helena athletes did in the events in which they did not qualify:
400: Katie Heffernan, freshman, 64.27.
1600: Aliyah Flamson-Rubalcava, sophomore, 5:46.29; Jade Schlatter, sophomore, 5:51.54.
100 hurdles: Cydney Adamson, sophomore, 18.34.
High jump: Adamson, 4-02.
Triple jump: Heffernan, 30-3.25.
100: Ivan Robledo, freshman, 11.94.
200: Cody DiTomaso, junior, 23.51.; Robledo, 24.13.
400: DiTomaso, 52.06.
800: John Baker, senior, 2:03.44.; Josue Blanco, junior, 2:06.28.
1600: Jordan Reilly, junior, 4:43.05.
300 Hurdles: Jacob Lehman, junior, 43.81.
4x400: Blanco, Baker, DiTomaso, Lehman, 3:37.45.
Long Jump: Searl, 18-06.
Shot Put: Quinn Randall-Darter, junior, 37-06.; Ryland Campos, junior, 37-00.75.; Conland Harrington, sophomore, 36-03.75.
Discus: Campos, 100-08.