By Joe Naiman
Ramona High School junior Dylan Blankenbaker had a time of 4:15.33 in the 1,600-meter run June 3 at the CIF state track and field meet in Fresno.
Blankenbaker finished ninth in his heat, and his time placed 19th overall among the 32 runners. The time also set a personal record by just over half a second.
“He did what he was capable of doing,” said Steve Albanese, who is Ramona’s coach for distance runners. “He ran a smart race. He was in the mix of things early on.”
Blankenbaker’s time in the preliminaries narrowly missed advancing to the finals. The final qualifying time for the finals was 4:13.05.
“He was giving it his all down that final stretch,” Albanese said.
“Very exciting,” Blankenbaker said. “I wasn’t expecting to go to the state, so I was happy with just running there.”
Blankenbaker missed four weeks of the season after being diagnosed with low iron levels and being advised to take time off for recovery. He was cleared to return to running in late April.
“He missed a whole month of training,” Albanese said. “He didn’t compete for a whole month in the middle of the season and came back.”
Blankenbaker returned to competition April 28 in a dual meet at Poway and had a time of 4:30.73 in the 1,600-meter race the following week, which closed out dual meet competition. He ran the May 14 league meet in 4:19.50, his CIF section preliminary heat in 4:18.69, and the CIF section finals in 4:15.84.
“I’m thrilled with how he’s running strong again,” Albanese said.
Before Blankenbaker had to take time off from running and then limit his training mileage after returning to competition, he and Albanese had set a goal of a time of between 4:10 and 4:13 by the end of the season.
“He got very close to that,” Albanese said.
The athletes from Division I and Division II combined with the top three times or distances in each event at the section finals qualify for the state meet. Blankenbaker’s time at the section meet placed third behind winner Matt Carpowich of Torrey Pines and Rancho Buena Vista’s Chris Brewer.
At the state meet Blankenbaker had a faster time than Brewer.
“That’s pretty cool,” Blankenbaker said.
Blankenbaker had previously competed at the state cross country meet but not at the state track and field meet.
“Good experience for next year,” he said.
“I would say he had a very phenomenal season all things considered,” Albanese said.