COC Insider: Cougar chases down state title

COC track and field's Diani Ellis won a state championship title in the 3,000m steeplechase at the California Community College Athletic Association State Championships. Courtesy COC Athletics

The College of the Canyons track and field program capped its season with a trip to the California Community College Athletic Association State Championships, highlighted by a state championship run in the 3,000m steeplechase by sophomore Díani Ellis.

Ellis, who had not run the steeplechase until this season, posted a time of 11:15.61 to win the state title, despite taking a hard fall about midway through the event. She also earned JC All-American honors for her performance.

Entering the state championships, Ellis had already posted the top time in the state while going undefeated in community college competition through the regular season.

At the state finals, she held true to that mark, and in doing so became just the second individual state champion in COC women’s track and field history, joining Corey Honeycutt who won a state title in the 800m in 2010.

“Díani had a breakout season in the steeplechase,” said COC cross country/track and field head coach Lindie Kane. “Coach (George) Serrano did a tremendous job preparing her for the state championships. We are all so proud of her performance and look forward to seeing her complete her sophomore cross country season this fall.”

COC track and field student-athletes have experienced tremendous success in the 3,000m steeplechase event in recent years. In 2015, freshman Ethan Walker won an individual state title in the same event. The following year, it was sophomore Jason Hillquist who ran to a state title in the steeplechase.

Sophomore Jasmine Hall also had an impressive run at the state championships, earning 17 meet points and finishing second in the heptathlon with a school record point total of 4,995.

With heptathlon events spread across two days, Hall finished first in the javelin (37.10m), and second in the 100h (14.90), high jump (1.72m) and 200m (25.34). She also managed a third place finish in the long jump (5.36m), a fourth place mark in the shot put (10.29m) and was eighth in the 800m (2:38.94).

In the individual high jump event, Hall finished third with a leap of 1.65m. That jump tied with teammate Kaitlyn Matthews, who was awarded fourth place based on her preliminary marks.

Both Hall and Matthews were named JC All-Americans.

Hall, who was recently named the 2017 Western State Conference Field Athlete of the Year, also placed sixth in the javelin with a throw of 37.14m, slightly better than her first-place mark in the heptathlon version of the event.

Earlier this season she set school records in the high jump, long jump and 100h.

Hall also won a CCCAA Southern California title in the high jump, as well as WSC titles in both the javelin and high jump.  She placed third in the 200m, third in the 100h, third in the triple jump, fourth in the long jump and fifth in the shot put at the conference finals.

“Jasmine is a talented athlete and a fierce competitor,” said Kane. “It takes extreme commitment, dedication and work ethic to compete in seven, eight or nine events each week, and Jasmine was able to do that the entire season.

“Her being a multi-event athlete allowed each coach on our staff the opportunity to assist in her training program,” said Kane. “She is special to all of us because we have been able to watch her compete first in youth track, then at Valencia High School and most recently during her two seasons as a Cougar.”

The Canyons contingent included a combined 14 student-athletes competing in 13 events at the state championship meet, held May 19-20 at American River College in Sacramento.

Samiyah Hawkins took fifth place in the shot put with a toss of 12.03m.

In the distance events, sophomore Jessica Ruiz was eighth in the 1,500m (4:59.09) and 5,000m events (18:40.39).

Shalyn Mabritto (40:07.62) and Stephanie Martinez (40:30.68) were ninth and 10th, respectively, in the 10,000m.

As a team, the women’s squad placed sixth in the field of 37 schools.

Sophomore Zachary Larson finished eighth in the decathlon with 5,547 points after a pair of runner-up finishes in the 100h (16.55) and pole vault (4.15m).

Elsewhere, Larson was fourth in the 400m (52.10), sixth in the 1,500m (4:56.20), and eighth in the 100m (12.08), high jump (1.64m) and discus (25.00m). Larson rounded out the weekend with ninth place marks in the long jump (5.98m) and javelin (36.32m). His throw of 9.33m in the shot put ranked 11th.

Freshman Marcel Sylvester finished sixth in the high jump at 1.96m.

The 4x400m relay team of Leo Lambert III, Blake Beeler, Keion Broadus and Tochukwe Eze ranked eighth at a time of 3:16.93.

Athletics Youth Summer Camps

The COC athletics department annually hosts a variety of youth sports camps for children ages 6-14 of all skill levels with camps running during June and July. Scheduled for summer 2017 are six camp sessions in the areas of basketball, volleyball and soccer.

The 2017 Howard Fisher Cougar Basketball Camp is open to boys and girls ages 6 to 14, with two sessions available. Session one will run June 19-22 and session two will run July 31 to Aug. 3, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. All basketball camp meetings will take place in the college’s West P.E. gymnasium, located on the COC Valencia campus. A $225 per player registration fee applies to each session.

The men’s and women’s soccer programs will both host a youth sports camp this summer, with sessions running in June and July. Boys and girls in first through eighth grade are invited to participate in separate camp sessions running June 26-29 and July 17-20. All camp sessions will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. at the state-of-the-art COC soccer facility, located on the college’s Valencia campus. Registration for individual players is priced at $150.

The women’s volleyball program will also host a pair of four-day camp sessions running July 10-13 and July 17-20. Both sessions are open to beginning and intermediate level players ages 9 to 14 and will run from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the college’s West P.E. gymnasium. Registration for individual players is priced at $150.

For more information or to register please visit

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