Track: Santa Rosa sweeps North Bay League opener

By RICHARD MARCUS
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Santa Rosa's Sadia Ibrahim wins the 400-meter race on Wednesday. (Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat)

Santa Rosa’s Sadia Ibrahim wins the 400-meter race on Wednesday. (Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat)

The first North Bay League triangular track meet of the season began on Wednesday afternoon under bright sunshine and ended amidst stiff and swirling winds. Turning in a steady performance throughout the changed conditions was host Santa Rosa, which swept both the boys and girls meets over Rancho Cotate and Cardinal Newman.

The Panthers won a close battle on the boys side, with a 66.5 team score over the Cougars’ 55.5 mark. Cardinal Newman came in third with 43 points.

Santa Rosa ran away with the girls contest with 130 team points compared to 22 points for Cardinal Newman and 12 points for Rancho Cotate.

“Santa Rosa deserved it. They are strong in a lot of areas,” Rancho coach John Anderson said. “They showed up in the distance races (as expected) but did surprisingly well in the sprints.”

The boys meet was close throughout and Santa Rosa and Rancho were tied at 38.5 points after the 10th event, the 800 meters race, with six events to go.

“I’m very happy. We did better than expected with the boys. I didn’t think we were going to beat Rancho,” Santa Rosa coach Doug Courtemarche said. “The girls did as expected.”

Things started off well for the Santa Rosa girls as favored freshman Delaney White won the 1,600 meters with a time of 5:47.8.

“This was my first event in my first league meet and I’m really happy with it,” White said. “I felt like my kick on the last lap was pretty good.”

White won the 3,200 meters at the end of the meet with a time of 12:11.39.

“It was so difficult because I haven’t trained for it (3,200 meters),” White said. “I was tired from the 1,600.”

The Panther girls further dominated the sprint events as accomplished star senior Sadia Ibrahim easily won her three events — 100 meters (13.13), 200 meters (26.37) and 400 meters (59.94).

In Ibrahim’s first event, the 400, her starting block slipped coming out of her crouch, momentarily stalling her start. A restart was not called and Ibrahim had to make up for the slow start, which she easily did in the second half of the race as she coasted to victory.

“It was weird, I thought the race would be restarted,” Ibrahim said. “I stopped (out of the block) and wondered what was going on. But I tried to work the last 200 meters.”

On the boys side Rancho had a few star performers lead the way. High jumper Justin Zinnerman, last year’s NBL champ as a freshman, easily won with leap of 5 feet, 10 inches, which he cleared in his first attempt.

“I think my form can get a little better,” Zinnerman said. “But the strength in my legs is up to par.”

On the sprints, Rancho was missing one of its fastest runners, Juwan Morales, out with pneumonia. David Forman picked up the slack and won both the 100 (11.53) and 200 meters (23.33). Forman was named to the All-NBL and All-Redwood Empire teams for both events the past two years.

“The 200 felt better for sure. There was a head wind but there was nothing you can do about it,” Forman said. “The 100 is easier but the 200 is my thing.”

Cardinal Newman’s day was highlighted by wins in the shot-put (56-5) and discuss (149-4) by Nolan Nagle. He won the shot-put on his fourth and final throw.

“I guess it just happened,” Nagle said of his late winning toss. “Everything is coming along. I don’t really care about all the rankings, I just want to throw.”

“He (Nagle) doesn’t care about accolades, he is very modest,” Cardinal Newman coach Pat LaFortune said. “He has done very well this year so far.”

The early races were run under the hot sun and the conditions favored the sprinters over the distance runners.

“Heat helps the sprinters get loose but it might hurt the distance runners because it wears them out,” Courtemarche said.

Times for the later races were hindered by the strong winds blowing straight into the runners down the front stretch of track.

“Headwinds just destroy the times completely,” Anderson said. “The winds have been building.”

With the girls meet over and won early by Santa Rosa, the Cougars made the boys meet interesting until the end.

“Today went as good as I could have expected with the people I had missing,” Anderson said. “Morales was the big piece missing and it had a waterfall effect.”

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