NCS track and field: Redwood Empire athletes look to secure trip to state meet

El Molino senior Lani Gaspar.  (John Burgess / The Press Democrat)

El Molino senior Lani Gaspar. (John Burgess / The Press Democrat)



The North Coast Section track and field championship meet — better known as the Meet of Champions — gets under way Friday at UC Berkeley, with finals set for Saturday,

The annual gathering of the finest sprinters and distance runners, jumpers and throwers will not count many from the Redwood Empire among the top seeds, based on results from last weekend’s regional meet.

Only the top three in each event will advance to the CIF state championship meet next weekend at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Clovis. Based on the performances from the regional meet, only six local athletes project to qualify for the trip.

The only No. 1 seed from the Redwood Empire is Santa Rosa freshman Kirsten Carter, in the 200-meter dash.

Carter chose to drop the 100 and long jump from her competition schedule and will instead compete in the 400-meter run. She would have been a top-three seed in the 100 and long jump but is a No. 5 seed in the 400.

The state meet does allow qualifiers who finish below third to compete next weekend if their time at UC Berkeley is better than standards established by the CIF.

In the 400, that standard is 55.80 seconds. Last week, running a 400 for only the third time, Carter clocked a 56.19 at the Redwood Empire meet on her home track at Santa Rosa High School.

Not among the top seeds is another decorated freshman, Sonoma Academy’s Rylee Bowen, who easily won all three distance events at the NCA Class A meet last weekend at Montgomery High School.

Bowen has run the fastest time in the NCS this year in the 800, second-fastest in the 1,600 and fourth-fastest in the 3,200. She has chosen to compete only in the 1,600 and 3,200 at the Meet of Champions and although her seeding has her far from qualifying, few would be surprised if she cracked the top three and earned a trip to Clovis.

El Molino sprinter Lani Gaspar is the seventh seed in the 100-meter dash, but it would also not be a surprise to see him finish among the state qualifiers.

(Read more from Jim Crowhurst at The Press Democrat’s running blog)

At longer distances, Casa Grande’s Nicholas Rauch is seeded near the bottom at 18th in the 1,600 but placed second last year at that distance, so he likes this track. And in the 800, Rauch is seeded second, one slot ahead of Maria Carrillo’s Carson Kimball.

In field events, the Redwood Empire boasts two highly respected competitors — Petaluma’s Allison Scranton, seeded second in the discus competition, and Rancho Cotate’s Justin Zinnerman, the defending Meet of Champions high-jump winner who enters this year’s competition as the third seed.

Also, Windsor’s Jackson Pool is seeded second for the discus, and Analy’s Ryan Douglass third in the pole vault.