TORRANCE — As the boys Division 2 discus throws got underway at the 2019 CIF-Southern Section Track and Field Divisional Championships at El Camino College on Saturday, you could spot Canyon’s boys thrower Jacob Lopez’s infectious smile and laughter amongst all the big bodies and loud cheers.
“It’s just a bunch of friends, man,” Lopez said. “It’s like if we go a little kick back. Everyone’s for each other, everyone’s cheering each other on. If you see the competition, we are all pushing each other. It’s a really competitive atmosphere and it’s really competitive due to the fact that we are all really, really good friends.”
Waiting patiently towards back of the line was Golden Valley’s Kienan Donovan. Both looked eager to compete, they just harnessed their energy in different ways.
Donovan fouled twice, but on his fourth and final throw recorded a throw of 171-02 for a third-place finish. Lopez had four clean throws logging a throw of 167-07 to finish in fourth right behind his Foothill League counterpart.
“Everything felt great,” Donovan said. “Being able to compete with such great guys like Jacob, Carlos and Aidan really gives me good competition and allows me to be better. It just gives me some motivation as an underdog to come up and take third.”
The two switched places in the Division 2 boys shot put with Lopez finishing third after a throw of 58.07.00 while Donovan landed in fourth with a throw of 57-07.25.
The Foothill League’s best girls shot putters, West Ranch’s Natalie Ramirez and Golden Valley’s Shyann Franklin, both looked calm, cool and collected on their way to winning first place in their respective divisions.
Ramirez’s length increased with every throw, setting a new PR with the crowd behind her on her final throw of 47.09.5 for the Division 1 crown.
“I’m a little jumbled right now,” Ramirez said. “It’s crazy, a PR and win. It’s amazing. I told my coach I’m not feeling it and hearing my teammates and my fellow Foothill League athletes cheering me on is the best feeling in the world and it pushed me to throw a PR.”
Ramirez also placed second in the Division 1 girls discus throwing 156-00.
Franklin won the Division 2 title in her final throw as well, but in different fashion. After her third throw, Franklin lost sight of her shot and had to use a different one for her final throw. Shrugging it off, Franklin won with a throw of 43-01.75.
“I lost my shot,” Franklin said. “But besides that I feel good. I feel good.”
Two Foothill League boys runners also ended the day as their division title holders in their respective races.
West Ranch’s Solomon Strader began the Division 1 boys 400-meter dash smooth and steady, but brought the win home in the final 200 meters to defeat Centennial’s Gregory Lapit by less than a second with a time 47.11.
“Probably coming around the curve I knew I needed to pick it up a bit,” Strader said. “I didn’t know if they were going to push, so I started to pass the guy and I felt pretty strong.
“I just try to stay confident in my race. A lot of people get nervous because it’s the postseason and I think it throws them off, so I just try to stay calm.
Knowing that he still had one more race to run, Strader saved some energy for the Division 2 boys 200-meter dash and finished just .03 seconds off the first-place time for runner-up honors.
One of Canyon’s all-time greatest runners, Ethan Danforth, repeated at the Division 2 boys 3200-meter champion after a determined gameplan.
Hanging around the back of the pack through the first 1600 meters, Danforth rallied to take the lead with 400 meters to go. Jockeying for position with Peter Herold of J Serra, Danforth turned on the jets to surpass Herold to hang on to finish as the back-to-back boys champion in Division 2.
“I knew he had put out more energy than me throughout the race, so I felt confident that I could stick it through and I just took it,” Danforth said. “It’s not over yet. I still have some things to do and times to accomplish. I hope I can and continue to grow.”
West Ranch senior Evan Bates, a University of Gonzaga commit, finished sixth in the Division 1 race in 9.19.18 while teammate Isaiah Seidman, a West Point commit, finished right behind him in 9:28.76.
Fellow Canyon track and field star Tyler Cash had a couple of ribs popped back into place on Friday after landing awkwardly in practice, but didn’t allow the misfortune to play a factor today and finished with the Division 2 boys high jump title with a jump of 6-08.00.
“It’s kind of crazy because this past month my step was wrong, like my run up was really not that great,” Cash said. “From my 6-08 jump a month ago this is the first track meet back where my jump feels normal again and it feels great.”
Saugus’ freshman Kylee Davis tied for third in the Division 1 girls high jump with a length of 5-00.00.
Three Foothill League Division 1 boys shot putters finished inside the top six as the Wildcats’ Bryce Valles and Noah Bultman finished third and fifth with throws of 52-08.00 and 50-03.50, respectively.
Saugus’ Gaetano Ferrera placed sixth with a throw of 49-06.75.
Hart’s boys 1600-meter runner Jeremiah Rasmussen finished third in the Division 2 race with a time of 4:13.18.
Grizzlies sophomore Antonio Abrego led the Division 2 boys 800-meter run through the first 400 meters and for the majority of the race up until the final 200 meters, but was overcome by Northwood’s Justin Larson by .22 seconds to finish in second place with a time of 1:54.45.
Representing Valencia, boys 800-meter runner Kai Wingo did not disappoint, ending the day as the Division 1 champion with a PR of 1:52.08 after trailing for first 600 meters.
“Obviously, I’m very grateful for what I got,” Wingo said. “I wanted to break 1:52.00 at least, but I couldn’t so I know that I can’t think too big of myself and move on next week and improve my time.
“I know that the last 200 is my thing. It’s the last 200 that I’m really good at so when I come to the last 200 something just clicks in me. I don’t know, but I just want to win from there.”
The top finishers qualify to move on and advance to the CIF-SS Master’s Track and Field Meet at El Camino College on Saturday. Gates open at 9:30 a.m. for spectators while the field events begin at 10:30 a.m. with girls pole vault.