By Ryan Menzie
For The Signal
In the final high school meet for the Santa Clarita Valley’s track and field season, athletes represented their schools for the unofficial state championships Friday and Saturday at Arcadia High School.
While there was no official state meet this year, the meet at Arcadia High served as a de facto state meet, according to officials.
Golden Valley High
Golden Valley High once again led the way for the SCV, with 10 athletes competing in events. While losing some talented seniors, Grizzlies head coach Lonnie Davis is excited for the future due to a bevy of talented underclassmen, as well.
“It wasn’t the same as the normal CIF meet that we have at the end of the season. However, it was a great opportunity for the kids and the program to have another shot at performing at a high level against high-quality competition,” said Davis. “The experience that we missed out on last year, we expect to be more prepared in the bigger meets next year. We know what to do and how to manage the meet process.”
Among the top performances for the Grizzlies, the girls 4×100 team came in third place and set a Foothill League record of 37.13 seconds. Sophomore Adonijah Currie finished third in the 400, breaking her own school record again with a time of 55.17 seconds. Currie has her bar set higher and wants to train harder next season to beat her record again.
“I was happy about the record, but I wanted to get to 54 seconds,” said Currie. “If I train harder, I can break the record. My coaches are really proud of me and I just need to carry the mentality that I can do it next year.”
The Grizzlies’ banner day didn’t end there. Senior Kienan Donovan finished second in the shot put and correlates his success with the amount of physical and mental practice he had all week leading up to the event. Donovan plans to continue his athletic career at UC Riverside.
“Physically, I wanted to have the best week of practice as I could and, mentally, I wanted to just go out there and do the best I can,” said Donovan. “I bring the underdog mentality. I wasn’t always the biggest, baddest shot putter and I worked to get to where I am today. Going into college I know I can compete with the big dudes and last with them rather than thinking they are too good for me.”
Junior Terraine Wiggins finished ninth in the discus throw and junior Elijha Ellis finished fifth in the long jump. Freshman Meagan Humphries tied with Junior Kylee Davis for sixth place in the high jump.
“It was definitely a great experience. I wasn’t too happy with the high jump performance, but I was happy with the long jump. It feels great to finally be at a state meet,” said Davis. “My coaches told me to be confident in my abilities and keep the head space open, put in the work and leave it out on the field. After my high jump performance, I wasn’t too happy — but my coaches told me this doesn’t define me. I’m very motivated to come in right after summer.”
The Cowboys’ lone representative at the meet was Austin Hernandez. Canyon head coach George Velarde said he was very proud of Hernandez’s performance, as well as the senior’s plans to continue his athletic career at West Point Academy.
“I am very proud of Austin, not only for what he did in the CIF and State meets, but for him to just continue on. I thought overall he represented himself and Canyon in a great way,” said Velarde. “We cannot be prouder of him and his family’s decision of him representing our country. I’ve known Austin since junior high. Seeing him grow from a young boy into a man has been very rewarding.”
Hernandez competed in the high jump, placing seventh with a 6-foot, 2-inch jump; and the 110m hurdles, placing fourth with a time of 14.87 seconds.
“My mentality going into this meet was competing for my coach and representing the school one last time. I went in and had a lot of fun and I knew a lot of the athletes out there,” said Hernandez. “I’m proud of each and every one of them for training so hard. I’m also very proud of how my team trained. We had a very small team, so we got to hang out a lot on the weekends and grew family bonds. A lot of us are family, and I wouldn’t be where I am without them.”
The Centurions finish off the list of talented young track stars who represented the SCV. Saugus co-head coach Momoko Russell was impressed with the athletes’ maturity throughout the season and believes the athletes ran, jumped and threw like it was going to be the last time they’d ever compete.
“Considering we didn’t have a season the previous year, the athletes were locked into every single sport,” said Russell. “I think the kids did well and the kids individually had more drive than I’ve ever seen. They played as if they had lost something. It was a really exciting year for those kids.”
Centurion senior Hannah Fredericks was the 3,200-meter champ in the CIF prelims and placed 15th in the state meet. Danielle Salcedo placed 19th overall in the 800m and Isabella Duarte ran the mile in 505.88 seconds. John Riley also competed in the 110m hurdles Saturday and finished in eighth place with a time of 15.05 seconds. Riley plans to attend Boise State next year, and will continue to focus on the 110m hurdles.
“Friday, I had a great preliminary round, which helped me get to the finals. I wasn’t happy with how I performed, but I was grateful to just be in the finals,” said Riley. “I just want everyone to carry on the legacy of Saugus. We’ve built a great program over the years. This year, specifically, we’ve faced a lot of adversity, and I hope the underclassmen can carry on what we started and I think they will.”
Saugus sprint coach Racquel Turner was extremely pleased with the way her group of selected athletes competed Friday and Saturday. Turner led her team to finish eighth in the state in a season with an uncertain beginning. Turner knows how hard the kids have been working all season and the record books have shown just how much they have been able to improve as the season progressed.
“At the beginning of the season, I looked at the record board at Saugus and it seemed unattainable for them based on this group,” said Turner. “Each week, they just got faster and better. At the Foothill League finals, they beat the 10-year-old school record and beat the record for three other consecutive meets. (I’m) happily, amazingly shocked and obviously extremely proud of the team.”
Seniors Zach Turner and Brandon Cruz also ran their last high school races, but did not disappoint the school or the coaches. Zach Turner ran a 48.15-second 400-meter race and helped set a school record in the 4×400 with a 3:20.50 time. Zach Turner plans to continue is athletic career at Minnesota State University, Mankato, and thanked his coach for preparing him for the next level.
“I think I did pretty well. I was able to hit lower splits than any other season so I was really proud of my performance,” said Zach Turner. “Coach Turner trained me to the best that she can … She taught me everything with form and speed, and I’m ready to take it to another level in the training.”
Cruz was a part of the 4×400 relay team, which set the school record and also set his own personal record in the 400 meters with a time of 49.35 seconds. Cruz will continue to run track at Cal Poly-Pomona.
“I think for me the passion will still be there. I’m excited to bring my competitiveness and leadership to the team,” said Cruz. “Talking to coach Turner, I can see myself coming onto the team and making an immediate impact. I’m very competitive not just with myself but also everything. I’m really excited to go there for the next four years and try to be a leader on the team.”