By Joe Naiman
Ramona High School sprinter Nathan Cherek won the freshman boys 100-meter dash at the Dick Wilkins Frosh-Soph Invitational meet April 30 at El Capitan High School.
Cherek had a time of 11.75 seconds, which is also a personal record. Jamiel Jackson of Monte Vista and Anthony Bautista of Mission Hills were immediately behind Cherek with times of 11.81 seconds.
“It’s nice to have a freshman who can hold his own,” said Ramona head coach Allison Stang.
Cherek was one of two Ramona runners who won races at the Lakeside invitational. Darien Hightower competed in the slower sophomore boys 800-meter heat and won that race with a time of 2:08.21.
“That was amazing,” Stang said. “He had so much left at the end.”
Due to Spring break the Bulldogs had neither a dual meet nor an invitational between April 14 and April 28, when Ramona traveled to Poway for a dual meet. The Poway boys prevailed by a 74-60 score while the Titans’ girls won by a 109-28 margin. “It got real close for a while on the boys side,” Stang said.
The Poway meet was the first race for Ramona junior Dylan Blankenbaker since the Bulldogs’ March 31 meet against Westview. Blood test results revealed low iron levels, and Blankenbaker was advised to take time off for recovery. His time of 9:44 won the 3,200-meter race.
“Just good to be back,” he said.
Chance Varnado-Richardson set a personal record of 4:29.35 while winning the boys 1,600-meter race. Poway’s only win in a boys non-hurdles race was in the 800-meter run; Ramona’s Matt Maple finished second at 2:02.55 to set a personal record.
Zach Kovach won two races for Ramona, taking 22.19 seconds in the 200-meter dash and 50.12 seconds in the 400-meter event in which William Wenberg gave Ramona the second-place points with a lap of 52.30 seconds. Jason Laws won the 100-meter dash with a time of 11.59 seconds while Cherek finished second at 11.79 seconds.
Ramona’s boys won both relay races. The 4x100 team of Laws, Kovach, Trevor Dotson, and Cherek took 43.50 seconds while the 4x400 quartet of Wenberg, Dotson, Maple, and Kovach completed their laps in 3:26.27.
Dotson accounted for two of Ramona’s three boys field event wins with a long jump of 21’7” and a triple jump of 44’6”. Ramona’s other field event winner was Jared Engler, who cleared 13’0” in the pole vault.
Poway’s field event wins included a 167’9” discus throw by Aaron Russell, which became the longest in the county this year. Stang believes that witnessing the superlative throw will enable her own athletes to achieve better marks.
“From a coach’s standpoint, I think that’s inspirational,” Stang said. “I think it’s a good learning technique.”
Ramona’s girls won three events, including both hurdles races. Carlee Roberts set a personal record of 52.15 seconds in the 300-meter hurdles while Kelly Helman had a time of 17.16 seconds in the 100-meter hurdles. Ramona’s other girls win was in the shot put; Kara Banegas had a throw of 31 feet 9-1/2 inches.
The Dick Wilkins Frosh-Soph Invite also saw Anna Mazzola take second in the freshman girls 800-meter race with a time of 2:37.96, and Mazzola’s personal record of 5:46.27 in the 1,600-meter event gave her fourth place. Mazzola also ran the 3,200-meter race, placing ninth at 12:56.37.
Cherek added a fourth-place time of 19.08 seconds in the 110-meter hurdles to his 100-meter dash win at the invitational. Mackenzie Cahill was fifth in that hurdles race at 19.75 seconds, and Cahill was fourth in the 300-meter hurdles with a personal record of 44.58 seconds. In the sophomore boys races Forrest Riley had a second-place time of 9:43.73 in the 3,200-meter race and a third-place mark of 4:32.26 in the 1,600-meter run.
Ramona took second and third in the freshman girls shot put with Nancy Prchal throwing 31’3” and Banegas achieving a distance of 30’7”. The freshman girls discus throw saw Claire Hagan set a personal record at 81’10” to place fourth.
“Now they’re seeing the result of putting all that hard work in,” Stang said. “I’m very excited and happy with the kids.”
The Bulldogs’ final dual meet of the season will take place today at home against Mount Carmel. The Palomar League preliminaries will be held Tuesday at Poway High School, and athletes who qualify for the league finals will return to Poway on May 13.