TORRANCE — Gasping for air and pumped after winning the girls 3200 meter run at the CIF-Southern Section Masters Meet at El Camino College on Saturday, Mariah Castillo of Saugus admits that she had a plan the whole time.
“I just went out there, started from the back and started moving my way up,” Castillo said. “Coach said that if I felt good that I could try to win. If not, just try to qualify in the top six, but I felt good and I kicked it in and came in first.”
Hanging back for most of the race, Castillo waited until after the first mile to make her move.
“I was just trying to stay relaxed for the first mile and then after that I just tried to like move my way up slowly,” Castillo said.
“Obviously there was a big gap from where I was at to first, second and third so I was just trying to slowly lower that and I’m happy I accomplished it.”
Clocking in with a time of 10 minutes, 22.24 seconds, Castillo beat the qualifying time of 10:34.21 by more than 11 seconds and heads to state as the top-seeded runner in the event.
Also competing in the 1600-meter run, Castillo finished fifth with a time of 4:48.01, good enough to qualify her for a second event at state.
Timothy Sterkel of West Ranch also qualified in the 1600, posting a time of 4:11.97 for a fourth-place finish. Sterkel was the fourth Wildcat to qualify for state on the day in addition to Natalie Ramirez in shot put and discus, Danny Bryant in shot put and Shelbi Schauble in triple jump.
Two boys competed in the boys 3200-meter run. Finishing in second-place was Ethan Danforth of Canyon and in 10th was Isaiah Seidman of West Ranch.
Qualifying for state with a time of 9:03.03, Danforth beat his previous personal record by four seconds and couldn’t help but to grin after the race.
“I felt great out there, honestly,” Danforth said. “It’s so much fun running with fast people and people that are going to push you.”
Waiting to make a push with a half-mile remaining Danforth said that he hung back for most of the race because of what he and his coach agreed on.
“I wanted to change it up a little bit,” Danforth said. “Me and my coach discussed staying back and conserving the energy and focus on staying away from all the pushing and shoving. The second mile is where it starts.”
Seidman just missed the qualifying time, clocking 9:09.65.
Trying to keep up a fast pace through the first mile, Seidman was pushed up into first place, disrupting his game plan.
“I was forced, or kind of pushed, into first place, which was kind of my only option so I tried to keep it up there but my legs just ran out of oxygen,” Seidman said.
With one more year left at West Ranch, Seidman couldn’t help but to add that running with Danforth really pushed him and now he has honed in on what he has to work on to improve his standing for next season.
“He always just kind of kicks past me. He’s got a really good kick. I have to work on my kick and sticking with him,” Seidman said.