By RICHARD J. MARCUS
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The Sonoma County League track and field championships on Saturday at Elsie Allen High had two very different competitions — the girls’ meet which featured very little drama and was dominated by Petaluma, and the boys’ meet which came down to a nail-biting final event between regular-season co-champs Piner and Analy.
That final boys’ event was the 4×400-meter relay, with the Prospectors holding a 114-113 edge going into race. Piner went to work immediately and led the relay from wire-to-wire to win the race and the SCL boys’ finals crown with 124 points.
“We lost to Analy (boys) last week in a tri-meet and we have been so banged up,” Piner coach Luis Rosales said. “It’s amazing to overcome so many injuries and to do that, wow.”
The Analy boys finished fourth in the relay and second in the finals with 117 points. El Molino finished third with 72 points.
[PHOTO GALLERY: Check out images from today’s meet]
“Piner beat us pretty handily in the final relay. We did what we could in the race,” Tigers coach Mike Bauman said. “This is the first pennant in seven years as head coach at Analy so I’m pretty happy.”
The girls’ final was no contest, with Petaluma winning with 151 points. The rest of field fought for second, with Sonoma Valley claiming runner-up with 101 points. Analy finished third with 95 points. The finals win for the Trojans adds to their undefeated 7-0 season and SCL regular-season crown.
“Today we had some kids who set personal records, and the rest of the girls did what they were supposed to do,” said Doug Johnson, head coach of the Trojans for 38 years. “They didn’t want to let the old man down.”
Saturday’s SCL finals had 32 events, 16 for each gender. Some additional field events were held on Thursday.
The top six finishers from the SCL finals in each category automatically qualify for the North Coast Section Redwood Empire meet next weekend at Redwood High in Larkspur, followed by the Meet of Champions for all North Coast Section schools at UC Berkeley in two weekends.
The NCS includes schools from the SCL, NBL, Marin County Athletic League (MCAL), the Humboldt-Del Norte League (HDNL) and Coastal Mountain Conference (CMC).
“The SCL should do well next week at the NCS. We should rise to the occasion,” Healdsburg coach and SCL finals race director Chris Puppione said. “The NBL has stronger teams and more depth, but individually the SCL has some heavy hitters.”
One of those heavy hitters is Piner senior hurdler Conor Celeri, who won the 110-meter hurdles going away (14.81 seconds) despite running on an inflamed left ankle bone and joint. Ty Pearson of Petaluma finished a distant second (16.20).
“I haven’t run in 10 days. I was in crutches and a boot until three days ago. Two days ago, I didn’t think I was going to run,” Celeri said.
“It was painful, but you just run through it. This injury will be a factor in the coming weeks. Everything is up in the air.”
One unexpected individual result was the first-place finishes in the 100-meter (12.98) and 200-meter (26.86) dashes by freshman Kiara Miles of Sonoma Valley. In the 200 meters, Miles beat out Healdsburg’s favored Bianca NiCastro, who won the 400 meters (1:00.04) earlier.
“I knew Bianca was right next to me so I had to push,” Miles said. “Before the races, I tried not to get nervous and not get tight. It’s totally mental.”
Another dual winner was Analy’s Kyle Vannetti, who won the boys’ 100 meters (11.12) and 200 meters (22.44) with surges late in both races.
“I’m not good at starting, but I knew I would win,” Vannetti said. “I’m always losing at 50 meters, and then the last 25 or 30 meters, I kick it into gear.”
Despite not winning either the boys or girls finals overall, Analy showed its depth by winning the boys’ and girls’ 4×100-meter relays at the beginning of the day.
The Tigers girls’ 4×100 team has a unique makeup of sophomore twin sisters (Nakia and Aniaya Norris) and junior cousins (Shelby and Alisen Stasiowski).
“We (relay team) have a connection and we have just meshed well this season,” Alisen Stasiowski said. “We are so ready and excited for the NCS.”
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