Pumas’ five qualifiers highlight NCS results

Maria Carrillo's Dontae Garcia leads off for his team in the 4x100-meter relay at the NCS Meet of Champions on Saturday.  Photo credit: Scott Manchester / The Press Democrat

Maria Carrillo’s Dontae Garcia leads off for his team in the 4×100-meter relay at the NCS Meet of Champions on
Photo credit: Scott Manchester / The Press Democrat


BERKELEY — Maria Carrillo throwers coach Joel Durand said coaching his daughter Kathleen is more intense than training other athletes.

“I think it’s more stressful, because you want your daughter to do the best that she possibly can,” he said.

Durand can rest easy now, knowing his Sacramento State-bound daughter is the best girls discus thrower in the North Coast Section.

The Pumas senior won the discus final at the NCS Meet of Champions and earned a spot in the California Interscholastic Federation Championships with a throw of 140 feet, 4 inches Saturday at Edwards Stadium on the UC Berkeley campus.

Durand set an all-time Empire record, according to her father, with a 140-foot throw last week, and matched that once again to grab the top spot this weekend. What got Durand the extra distance this year as opposed to her previous second- and third-place finishes in the MOC?

“Just being confident, going out there and knowing I can throw it,” she said.

And, of course, dad being in her ear through the years.

“We practice on the weekend, we practice all the time, and I just have individual attention with him there,” she said.

Joel agrees that the extra time together pays off.

“We can talk about it at home, and go over the videos at home so we can have more time to check her technique and talk about what she wants to do, and I can’t do that with any of my other athletes that I’m coaching out there,” he said.

Carrillo head coach Ian Myers said Kathleen Durand started throwing in seventh grade, and now throws year-round.

“She’s had this nice steady wave of improvement, and she’s hitting her best marks at the right time,” Myers said.

Myers said Durand has had throws at 140 in practice in the past, but never at a meet until this year.

The elder Durand said his daughter is strong-willed and a perfectionist.

“We’ll butt heads a little bit,” he said. “She’ll argue with me a little bit. Maybe something she wouldn’t do with a normal coach, but because I’m her dad, she’ll argue and then I’ll get upset at her, and then she’ll throw better. So we have that back-and-forth, dad-and-daughter interaction, plus coach-and-athlete interactions.”

This will be Durand’s fourth-straight appearance in the state championships. Her all-time best finish is ninth. She’s shooting for a sixth-place finish this year so she can get on the medal stand, but isn’t feeling pressure to win it all at state.

“There’s a lot of things I can improve on to improve my distance, but right now I’m happy with where I’m at,” she said.

Also in the spotlight for Carrillo is the Pumas’ boys 4×400-meter relay team of Herbie Polk, Dontae Garcia, Dante Hay and Jake Viter, which qualified for state with a third-place finish.

“This is, in my opinion, the most absolute best race in track and field, and this group has just been so fast all year,” Myers said.

The foursome improved its personal record by two seconds Saturday, Myers said.

Polk finished second in the individual boys 400, just .18 second behind first-place finisher Alexis Robinson of Eureka, who finished in 47.03. Healdsburg’s Andrew Kozel finished sixth with a time of 48.56, which qualified for a trip to state by just beating the qualifying time of 48.59.

Hay also qualified for state with a second-place finish in the boys 800.

Carrillo’s girls 4×800-meter relay team also qualified for state.
In the boys 4×100 relay, Carrillo’s “A” team of Polk, Garcia, Darian Galindo and Ian Herculson finished fourth.

Sonoma Academy’s Kiana Herold won the girls high jump with a leap of 5-07, becoming the first athlete in school history to advance to state. Austin Orr quickly became the second with a third-place finish in the boys 800 later in the afternoon.

Other Empire athletes who qualified for state include Windsor’s Andy Kotval, who was second in the boys pole vault; Healdsburg’s HelenAnn Haun, with an 11-3 pole vault; Rancho Cotate’s Justin Zinnerman, after finishing third in the high jump; Petlauma’s Teddy Scranton, third in the discus; Cardinal Newman’s Nolan Nagle, who finished secondin the shot put; Santa Rosa’s Sadia Ibrahim, with a third-place finish in the girls 800; and Casa Grande’s Brycen Poarch, who tied for fifth with a high jump of 6 feet, 5 inches, which matched the qualifying distance for state.

The best surprise was saved for Connor Celeri. The Piner junior finished fourth in the 110 hurdles, but received a late bid to the CIF meet when one of the top three finishers dropped out.

The state meet is next weekend at Clovis.

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