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St. Helena Track and Field: Searl runs well at Winter Championships, McClain hauls in another accolade
Prep Track and Field

St. Helena Track and Field: Searl runs well at Winter Championships, McClain hauls in another accolade


St. Helena High’s Ryan Searl feels as confident as ever heading into his final season of high school track and field.

The senior has had a stellar career thus far as one of the Saints’ top sprinters. But his most recent batch of newfound confidence stems from his performances during the winter track season, which wrapped up with the Winter Championships at Arcadia High over the weekend.

Searl, competing unattached to a school, turned in strong performances in the finals of the 60- and 150-meter dashes on Saturday. He ran the final of the 60 in 7.12 seconds, the 12th-fastest time out of the 27 finalists and complete field of 99 other runners. Shortly after, he ran a 17.11 in the finals of the 150, good for 20th out of the field of 33 runners.

“My start (in the 60) didn’t feel amazing, but I guess it was pretty good,” Searl said in a phone interview on Sunday. “The first race kind of warmed me up for the second, and then the 150 – it was just not my day for the 150. I was kind of fatigued from those first two 50s because the way the meet was set up there really wasn’t much of a rest period between events, so I was just constantly running around and was kind of exhausted by the end.”

Still, Searl considered his final go-around in winter track to be an overall success. He’s been competing in the lesser known track season since his freshman year, but this was the first time he’s competed at the Winter Championships.

“Considering I have lifted absolutely nothing this year because of injury and to save my back, and last year I was lifting a lot and I ran faster this year than I did last year, I think that’s a good sign for when I start to lift,” he said.

“I think I’m going to have a pretty amazing season.”

Searl said one of the main reasons he had not competed at the Winter Championships until this year was simply because he chose not to. Other years, he opted to compete at the Cal All Comers meet in Berkeley, the same weekend as the Winter Championships, against Northern California competition he would routinely see later in the spring track season.

But new motivation presented itself this winter.

Searl currently has sprint times good enough to qualify him for the Arcadia Invitational, one of the largest and most prestigious meets in the country. He said he is aiming to compete at this meet in early April and wanted to get familiar with the track and facilities since it will be held at Arcadia High, the same venue as the Winter Championships.

Plus, he said, he wanted a new experience for his senior year.

“It was kind of a last-minute decision,” he said. “I was just like, ‘Hey, senior year, might as well.’”

Heading into the spring track season, practices for which officially began Monday, Searl projects to once again be the Saints’ top sprinter. He’s coming off of a fifth-place finish in the finals of 100 meters at the North Coast Section Meet of Champions and has his sights set on reaching the state meet this spring.

He has high expectations for himself and his team in the coming months.

“I’d say just tune into this season and to what happens at St. Helena High School track.”

McClain named USATF Pacific Region Female Athlete of the YearSt. Helena High junior distance running phenom Harper McClain recently added another award to her trophy case.

At the first-ever USA Track and Field Pacific Regional awards banquet on Feb. 1 in San Francisco, McClain was named the Female Athlete of the Year. USATF is the governing body of the sport.

“I am glad to have taken part in this amazing event,” she said. “It allowed me to showcase all the work that I put in to get the times I get. This award is only a reflection of the work that I put in and the work that my coaches put in to help me.”

McClain was also recognized for winning a pair of national titles in the 1,500 and 3,000 over the summer at the USATF Junior Olympics.

Gus Morris' top 5 most memorable stories of 2019

Prep sports in the Napa Valley this past year provided some incredible stories I was honored to tell. Here are some I thought stood out from the rest. 

You can 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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