Zinnerman eyes busy slate at Meet of Champions

By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Rancho Cotate's Justin Zinnerman. Photo by Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat

Rancho Cotate’s Justin Zinnerman. Photo by Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat

Rancho Cotate’s Justin Zinnerman was the busiest athlete competing in the NCS Regional Track Meet on Saturday and he’ll be just as busy this weekend at Cal where the Meet of Champions will take place.

At the regional meet at Redwood High School, Zinnerman, a 5-foot-11 junior, qualified for the MOC in four events. He’ll be competing in the high jump, 100- meter dash, 200-meter dash and 4×100 relay.

Zinnerman easily won the high jump at the regional meet while finishing fifth in the 100 and sixth in the 200 and also ran the third leg in the 4×100 relay that saw Rancho take second.

The first seven finishers in each event were invited to the Met of Champions which will be Friday and Saturday.

Friday will have six field event finals — girls discus, girls high jump, boys triple jump, boys shot put, boys pole vault and girls triple jump — and the running event trials. The other six field events and the running finals will be Saturday.

“It was a busy day but well worth it,” Zinnerman said Sunday after the competition at Redwood. “The events were spaced so I could do all four. I ran the 4×100 and then went over to the high jump pit before competing in the 100 and 200.”

While he will be competitive in the running events at Berkeley, it’s the high jump that’s his best event. He’s ranked No. 3 in the state.

Last Saturday, he cleared 6-6 while runner-up Chad Bell of Del Norte finished second at 6-0.

Having already clinched first place, Zinnerman had the bar set at 6-10 and nearly made it.

“On one of the jumps, my calf just skimmed the bar and it fell,” he said. “That would’ve been my all-time high by an inch.”

Zinnerman competed while in pain.

“I’ve got shin splints and my right knee has been bugging me,” he said. “I had to tape up before each running event and then work through the pain.”

Another blue ribbon winner who knows about competing in pain is Healdsburg’s Bianca Nicastro. She won the 400 meters in 58.40 less than a year after tearing her Achilles in a bicycle accident. The senior also competed in the 200 and finished ninth.

Piner senior Connor Celeri also battled an Achilles injury to win a blue ribbon at the regional meet. The senior finished first in the 110 high hurdles in a time of 14.75.

“I was in a walking cast until 10 days ago,” he said Sunday. “I hurt it in a meet three weeks ago. It was definitely sore after the race and now I’m staying off my feet as much as possible. I want to be ready for the TOCs.”

Celeri was in second place behind Tamalpais’ August Kiles until midway through the race.

“He hit a hurdle and it slowed him down a little,” Celeri said. “I got the lead at that point.”

Other individuals from the Redwood Empire taking first place at the regional meet were:

Zach Price, Windsor, 1600, 4:24.82.

Dante Hay, Maria Carrillo, 800, 1:54.81.

Juwan Morales, Rancho Cotate, triple jump, 43 feet, 5.5 inches.

Adam Reeves, Windsor, shot put, 52-3.

Caleb Lundquist, Casa Grande, discus, 153-8.

Sheena Blackwell, Piner, 100 hurdles, 16.00.

Ileana Moon, Casa Grande, 800, 2:10.31.

Allyson Milone, Ukiah, shot put, 39-5.

Alison Scranton, Petaluma, discus, 130-1.

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