Track and field athletes ready for CIF-SS finals

Cole Shirakata of Hart goes over the last hurdle to win the 110-meter hurdles at College of the Canyons. Dan Watson/The Signal

With the CIF-Southern Section track and field finals on tap today at El Camino College, local athletes used the last few days to help prepare for the championship competition.

Instead of a week of vigorous practice that would be the norm during the season, this week’s preparation consisted mostly of rest, relaxation and of course, a healthy diet.

“This week I’m just getting geared up for the race by making sure I eat right, have a good sleeping schedule, and do some small tune-up workouts this week to dial in those final kinks,” West Ranch senior runner Evan Bates said.

Bates is one of nine Wildcats that will be competing in the finals today, running in the boys Division 1 3,200-meter alongside teammate Isaiah Seidman. That event is one of the last of the day with a start time of 5:35 p.m.

Bates has the best time this year in the 3,200-meter of any Foothill League runner, recording a personal record of 9 minutes and 12.75 seconds at the Nike Redondo Invitational in March.

Two other Foothill League runners will compete in the 3,200-meter final, with Saugus’ Hailey Rutter competing in the girls event (5:05 p.m.) and Canyon’s Ethan Danforth racing in the boys Division 2 group (5:50 p.m.).

In addition to a good week of sleep and proper diet, getting mentally locked in is another huge component in preparing for a competition of this magnitude.

As demanding as the sport is physically, it’s equally as important to be mentally focused.

“Practice has toned down as we’re coming into championships. We’re doing the little things and taking care of our physical and mental states,” Golden Valley’s Samuel Malik said. “A good mentality leads to a good race.”

Malik is part of a large Golden Valley contingent competing today. He will run in the boys 400-meter (3:10 p.m.), the 4×100 along with Jalen Davis, Kory Bacon, Deven Mendez (1:15 p.m.) and the 4×400 with Antonio Abrego, Tyler Walker and Joseph Clemons, which is the last race of the day at 6:30 p.m.

Tylar Gallien of Golden Valley wins the 400-meter at College of the Canyons. Dan Watson/The Signal

Abrego is also a favorite in the boys 800-meter (4 p.m.), but he will have to contend with Kai Wingo of Valencia, though they will run in separate heats. Wingo bested the sophomore at the Foothill League finals and holds the best time this year with a PR of 1:52.11 at the Mt. SAC Relays.

Davis is also competing in the boys 100-meter, as is Hart’s Joe Hylton. Both runners are coming off their PR’s at the CIF-SS Division 2 prelims. Hylton ran a 10.72 and Davis ran a 10.85.

“My mentality needs to be in the right place. Focus and staying relaxed will win me the race,” Hylton said. “But one of the most important things to remember is having fun because if you don’t love what you do then there’s no point.”

Representing the Grizzlies girls runners are Jasmyn Lewis (300-meter hurdles at 4:15 p.m.) and Tylar Gallien (400-meter at 2:55 p.m. and 200-meter at 4:40 p.m.). The 4×100 team consists of Delaney Sherwood, Gallien, Yleana Lopez and Kayla De la Merced (1 p.m.). The 4×400 is comprised of Sherwood, Lopez, Gallien and Iman Holmes (6:05 p.m.).

Emma Rudolph will contend in the girls pole vault (10:30 a.m.) and Alec Walker in the boys pole vault (11:30 a.m.). Max Gabriel is competing in the boys long jump (11 a.m.).

Golden Valley throwers Kienan Donovan and Shyann Franklin will shoot for first place in the boys and girls shot put and discus (11 a.m.).

“They’ve been practicing hard in the weight room and I’m just extremely proud of them,” Golden Valley throws coach Kyle Donovan said about Donovan and Franklin after the Foothill League finals in April. “They just need to focus and support each other and don’t take their eye off the goal and that’s it.”

For West Ranch, Noah Bultman and Bryce Valles will also compete in the boys shot put. Amber Racina will take part in the girls pole vault.

Natalie Ramirez has a great chance to win both the girls shot put and discus.

“I just need to stay out of my head and stay strong in my lifting, keep those throws consistent,” Ramirez said about preparing for the championships.

Sophia Hoelzel of West Ranch wins the second heat of the 1,600-meter at COC. Dan Watson/The Signal

The Wildcats will also have runners competing in the girls 1,600-meter at 1:35 p.m. (Sophia Hoelzel) and boys 300-meter hurdles at 4:25 p.m. (Mya Davis). Solomon Strader, a favorite in two races, will compete in the boys 400-meter (3:10 p.m.) and 200-meter (4:50 p.m.).

After winning the boys 1,600-meter at prelims last week, Hart’s Jeremiah Rasmussen will be in contention for the same race today, which starts at 2 p.m.

Hart’s Cole Shirakata will have a chance to win in three different events, the boys 110-meter hurdles (2:40 p.m.) and the 300-meter hurdles, plus the 4×400, teaming up with Hylton, Rasmussen and Miguel Galvan.

When it comes to the throwing events, the competition will have to go through Canyon’s Jacob Lopez. He’ll be a favorite in both the shot put and discus.

Canyon’s Jacob Lopez competes in the shot put at a league meet earlier this season. Dan Watson/The Signal

“It’s good practices and mentality, that’s what it comes down to. You have to make sure your nutrition is right, you make sure your practice is right, every throw is not wasted,” Lopez said about preparing for the finals and making a run to state. “Going in with a confident mentality and just taking care of business, that’s what it comes down to.”

Joining Lopez and Danforth for the Cowboys is Tyler Cash. He is favorite in his event, the boys high jump, which begins at 10:30 a.m.

For the Centurions, joining Rutter is Dani Salcedo, Kylee Davis and Gaetano Ferrera. Salcedo will compete in the girls 800-meter (3:50 p.m.) and Davis, a freshman, could make a splash in the girls high jump (11:30 a.m.).

Ferrera will contend with the other challengers in the boys shot put and discus, including his Foothill league counterparts Donovan and Lopez.

Gaetano Ferrera of Saugus competes in the shot put at a league meet earlier this season. Dan Watson/The Signal

Valencia will be represented by Wingo and Chloe Stewart, who is participating in the girls 100-meter hurdles at 2:20 p.m.

Trinity Classical Academy has one athlete competing in the boys long jump, sophomore Quentin Thompson.

The top nine finishers in each event will advance to the Masters Meet on May 18, except for the 800-meter, 1,600-meter, 3,200-meter and all field events, which will advance the top 12 finishers.

All start times are approximate.

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