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Senior Spotlight: Searl aimed to sprint to the state meet for St. Helena
Senior Spotlight

Senior Spotlight: Searl aimed to sprint to the state meet for St. Helena

From the Senior Spotlight: A celebration of Napa County student athletes series

With the cancellation of the spring season for high school sports, the Napa Valley Register will recognize senior athletes over the next few months who have had their careers come to a premature end due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Today we focus on St. Helena High sprinter Ryan Searl. A specialist in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, Searl quickly established himself as one of the fastest sprinters St. Helena has ever had. He consistently improved his times every year, and racked up his fair share of league titles and school records along the way.


Track and field.

Years on varsity:

Three year. It was going to be four but we all know what happened.

By the numbers: Finished fifth in the final of the 100 at the North Coast Section Meet of Champions as a junior with a time of 11.16 seconds. Recorded multiple league titles in the 100 and 200. Has personal-best marks of 10.88 in the 100 (also a school record), 22.42 in the 200 and 19-feet, 6-inches in the long jump. Anchored the 4x100 relay team that set the school record in 2019.

What was your reaction to the spring season being canceled?

First I was stunned. I was really hoping to prove to these college coaches what I was worth. I came into the season in the best shape I had ever been in before. I worked so hard in the offseason. I am really happy I ran in winter meets, at least I got some taste of the track this year. Then the real melancholy hit when it started to become more of a reality that I wasn’t going to have a senior track season. It was total devastation, and I will never get this back.

What had you hoped to accomplish in your sport this spring?

I was hoping to run a sub 10.70-second 100-meter dash along with a sub 22-second 200. I also had a goal of jumping over 21 feet in the long jump, since I have always been lacking in that event. I was jumping very well in the small amount of practice time I had.

How has coronavirus changed your life?

Coronavirus has changed my life in the sense that I am losing out on all of my senior year experiences. I guess it has shown me how much I really got to start spending time with myself. It is hard to stay busy, of course. I am only allowed to see one person outside of my family and that is my girlfriend Olivia Smith. She has been keeping me company.

Have you picked up any new hobbies during quarantine?

I have not picked up any new hobbies.

Best memory from high school sports?

My best memory from high school sports would have to be either breaking the school record in the 100 or getting on the podium at the North Coast Section Meet of Champions. I had always looked up to the kids who got to stand on the podium with their medals, and I dreamed of being among them one day.

What you miss most about sports?

Having a set schedule to work out and be with friends. Though that sounds simple, it is true. Finding the motivation to get out and work with no goal in mind is hard. I miss my friends and they also help motivate me just by being at track practice. I have been training, but it is around 3 times a week instead of 5.

Summer plans:

Everything is postponed until the government figures out what to do.

Fall plans:

As of now, my plans for the fall are to attend the University of California Santa Barbara and run track and field.

Coach Dave Pauls says:

Th words that I would use to describe Ryan Searl and his fellow senior track and field teammates are “great expectations.” Ryan came in as a freshman with more experience, knowledge, and passion about track and field than any other athlete that I had coached. He also had the highest expectations for himself, the team, and a vision of the future, which included making it to the CIF State Championship meet. The positive expectations and vision inspired teammates, coaches, and the Saints track and field program. Fellow Freshman teammates Cody DiTomaso, Jake Lehman, Jordan Reilly, along with the rest of their Saints’ teammates, all played a significant role in the success and growth of the program over the past 4 years!

The first track meet that they competed in as freshmen was the Tim Bruder Relays. They were anxious and enthusiastic about their first high school track meet, and came away with several top placings, confidence, and “great expectations” about their future potential as Saints. The precedent of success had been established and that continued throughout their track and field careers. Freshman and JV records were broken by both Ryan and Cody during their first two years. They both also advanced to the NCS Meet of Champions where they competed in individual and both relay events along with their teammates. Success continued their junior year as several Saints qualified to compete at MOC, including Ryan in the 100, Jake in the 110 hurdles, Harper McClain in the 3200, and the boys 4x100 relay team, comprised of Ryan, Jake, Cody and Ivan Robledo, which broke the previous school record!

Contact Gus via phone at 707-304-9372 or email at Follow him on Twitter @JustGusMorris.

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Sports Reporter

Gus Morris covers St. Helena and Calistoga sports for the Napa Valley Register. Before joining the Register in 2018, he covered collegiate sports for the student publication at the University of Oregon.

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