Empire’s best track athletes compete at Big Cat Invitational

By JIM CROWHURST
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

An estimated 900 of the Empire’s best track and field athletes kicked off their season with a .32-caliber bang at the Big Cat Invitational at Santa Rosa High on Saturday.

With months of training behind most of the competitors, it was one of the Panthers’ own, with only two days of track practice, who had one of the best performances. Junior Morgan Bertsch, fresh off the basketball courts, broke the Santa Rosa school record in the high jump with a 5-foot, 7-inch clearance.

“I was not expecting that at all,” Bertsch said. “I would have been happy with 5-2. Breaking the record was my season goal, so now I guess I need a new goal like maybe 5-9.”

Teammate Sadia Ibrahim was another star of the meet, first winning the 800 meters by 10 seconds at 2:16.45, then coming back to win the 200 in 26.34.

“In the 800, I just wanted to get out and get a good time,” Ibrahim said. “I wanted to stay in control, find my zone and build my confidence.”

Petaluma sophomore Alison Scranton broke the Empire freshman record last year in the shot put at 37-3¾, but she added a foot and a half to her best here on her final throw with a win at 38-9. “I was in second place with one throw left and I just wanted to have fun with the last throw,” Scranton said.

One of the more exciting battles on the track involved three girls in the 3200 as they battled back and forth down the final 100 meters. Windsor’s Hannah Haley (11:45.17) edged out Casa Grande’s Saskia Van Ommeren-Egberts (11:45.61) and Maria Carrillo’s Andrea Natoli (11:48.93). Natoli had earlier won the 1600 in 5:23.41, just ahead of Santa Rosa’s Delaney White (5:23.69) and Maria Carrillo’s Brynna Thigpen (5:23.86).

Windsor had two other wins by Amanda Morton (100HH, 17.10) and Nicole Kemper (100, 13.37).

Other local winners included Kathleen Durand of Maria Carrillo (DT, 129-9), Jackie Chalmers of Montgomery (400, 59.74), Helen-Ann Haun of Healdsburg (PV, 10-0), Kiana Herold of Sonoma Academy (LJ, 16-6¾) and Eva King of Casa Grande (TJ, 36-0½).

On the boys side Petaluma had wins by Teddy Scranton (DT, 144-10) and Ryan Douglas (1600, 4:27.69).

Teddy is Alison’s older brother. “I’ve been doing more weights this year,” he said. “I’d like to break the school record and make the state meet.”

Windsor got big wins from Zach Price (800, 1:59.56) and Andy Kotval (PV, 13-0).

The 800 had a strong field, with Price passing many top-notch runners down the final stretch. “I wanted to stay with Douglas. With 200 left I moved out into lane two and just went all out,” he said.

Healdsburg’s Andrew Kozel blazed the 400 in 50.63.

Maria Carrillo earned wins by Ryan Anderson (3200, 9:43.13), Alex Netherda (300IH, 41.66) and Dantae Garcia (TJ, 42-11). Other local winners included Brycen Poarch of Casa Grande (LJ, 21-4¼), Nolan Nagle of Cardinal Newman (SP, 52-6) and Justin Zinnerman of Rancho Cotate (HJ, 6-4).

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