NCS track: Sophomores excel at Class A meet

By JIM CROWHURST
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Two sophomores recorded two wins each at the North Coast Section track and field Class A championship at Montgomery High Saturday to lead the Empire contingent.

Top three finishers in each event advance to the NCS Meet of Champions next week.

Willits’ Will Smith destroyed the field in the shot put and discus. St. Helena’s Julia DeVencenzi won both the 100- and 300-meter hurdles.

Smith had personal records in both events. He won the shot by over a foot at 46 feet, 1 inch, and the discus by over 10 feet at 144-10.

“In the shot, my goal this year was to hit 46 feet,” Smith said. “In the discus, I had a PR on my first throw, but it didn’t feel very good. On my last throw, everything was smooth and clicked and I PR’ed again. I hope to hit 50 feet and 160 (in the discus) before I graduate.”

Middletown had two boys’ winners, as Nick Santos won the 400 meters (50.32 seconds) and Barrett Southern won the 300-meter hurdles (42.07) to help the Mustangs finish in a tie for second-place with Lick Wilmerding and behind team champion Stuart Hall.

Santos also had his best day ever, winning the 400 meters by almost 1.5 seconds.

“I’m so happy to be Middletown’s first ever NCS track champion,” said Santos. “I was passing the runners to the outside of me on the first turn but after that, I never knew where the others were until the end, but I always run as if someone is just behind me.”

Southern was almost as dominant in his hurdles race.

“Last year, I missed qualifying here by one place, so I made it a goal this year to win it,” said Southern. “I’m feeling nothing but joy right now.”

Fort Bragg’s Nathaniel Johnson helped account for the other Empire boys’ wins.

Johnson had another of the days’ most impressive performances as he won the high hurdles by almost a full second.

“I’m always nervous about this race, but today felt comfortable,” said Johnson. “I’m always looking for a PR when I run it.”

Johnson finished fifth in the 200 meters (22.68) before anchoring his 1,600-meter relay team’s win in 3:32.08, after the first team to cross the line was disqualified.

On the girls side, DeVencenzi stood out among Empire athletes. Her first race looked like synchronized hurdling, as she ran side-by-side with Berean Christian’s Kayle Chaffey over the first nine hurdles before inching ahead over the last one for a photo finish.

In the 300 hurdles, Lick Wilmerding’s Eva Laxo held a slight lead over DeVencenzi, but over the last two hurdles, DeVencenzi came back to win it.

“I can’t believe I beat her (Chaffey). She is such a great hurdler,” said DeVencenzi. “In practice this week, I have been having technique problems, but today was the best I have ever performed. I’m so blessed by the coaching I have.”

Cloverdale’s Shaylee Stotts started the day by anchoring her 400-meter relay team with a final leg that earned third place. She ran her fastest 200 meters of the year winning in 26.74.

“I pushed it too hard in the first half of my 400 today,” said Stotts. “My favorite event has always been the 200.”

Julissa Schaffer is Tech’s first MOC qualifier winning the pole vault at 8-6. “I was resistant to trying the vault, but now I realize it is really fun,” said Schaffer.

Kelseyville’s Megan Touros claimed the long jump.

Branson’s Julia Maxwell had the best double of the day winning both the 1600 (4:56.88) and the 3200 (11:15.63).

 

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