At this time of year for Foothill League track and field teams, the focus shifts. The change of mindset starts with the league prelims, which were held at College of the Canyons on Thursday. Instead of athletes scoring as many points as they can to win a dual meet, the objective is to qualify as many athletes as possible for the CIF postseason run. “As coaches, we love this because we get to root for everybody,” said Valencia coach Jeff Gilkey. “It’s like, good, let’s get six, seven or eight people in and show them how tough the Foothill League is.
“We want the league to be represented by as many people as possible for the next month, all the way to the state meet.” The first round of prelims took place on Thursday, which included all running events aside from the 800- and 3200-meter races and all relay races. Official results weren’t available by The Signal’s print deadline. But Valencia’s Jaliyah Berkley and Juliana Anuakado each had the fastest qualifying times in both the 100- and 200-meter races. West Ranch’s London Lewis was top in the 400, and the Cats’ Sophia Hoelzel and Saugus’ Mariah Castillo each won their heats in the 1600. Canyon’s Seanna Nalbandyan and Abbey Bryant had two of the fastest qualifying times in the 100- and 300-meter hurdles. For the boys, the Cowboys’ Steven Arrington finished in the top two in terms of qualifying times in the 100 and 200. The Vikings’ Sam Pica was the top qualifier in the in the 400. Taylor Tepesano had the second-best time. West Ranch had the top three times in the 800-meter run, with Justin Sherfey leading the way.
Hart’s Cole Shirakata had the best time in the 110 hurdles and West Ranch’s Mya Davis was top in the 300 hurdles. Heavy winds that crippled E-Z Up tents and canopies and crumbled scorekeeping paperwork were a nuisance but didn’t prevent athletes from performing. “The kids did really well in the wind and the conditions,” Gilkey said. “I heard a lot of people talking about getting good marks, getting PRs and all that despite the very strong winds out here. That shows that the entire valley, all six schools, are reaching their peak at the right moment and that’s what we want.” Foothill League track and field finals, with field events and relays, will take place next Thursday at COC. Field events will begin at 2 p.m. and running events are set to begin at 5 p.m.