By Joe Naiman
Ramona High School’s track and field teams won four events at the Bronco Invitational meet March 9 at Rancho Bernardo High School.
Senior Forrest Riley won the boys 3,200-meter invitational race and was also the anchor on Ramona’s winning boys distance medley relay team, which also included senior Tristan Stidham, senior Cesar Corona, and sophomore Max Edwards. Junior Courtney Jackson won the girls invitational pole vault. Senior Paul Mehaffie placed first in the boys open shot put.
“I was pleased with the way we did,” said head coach Sherri Edwards.
The Bulldogs began their season March 7 with a non-league dual meet at Rancho Buena Vista. The Longhorns won both the boys and girls events, although qualifying for the CIF track and field meet is based on individual times and distances so non-league records have no impact on post-season activity. The schools dispensed with the 3,200-meter races to give their distance runners some rest for the Bronco Invitational two days later.
Edwards was also handicapped by the absence of her top hurdlers for both the dual meet and the invitational; boys hurdler Dustin Hager sprained his ankle while girls hurdler Carlee Roberts was competing at a horse show. Edwards also had a significant number of new athletes.
“I had a lot of young freshman girls and they were all really nervous and I think they competed really well,” she said.
Ramona’s girls took first place in four events against the Longhorns. Freshman Holly Stallman won two sprint races, completing the 100-meter dash in 12.8 seconds, and the 200-meter dash in 27.0 seconds.
“She’s an amazing sprinter. I’m so excited about her,” Edwards said.
The Bulldog pole vaulters were getting used to new poles, but Jackson’s distance of 7 feet, 6 inches was still high enough for first place at the dual meet. Ramona’s other girls winner was junior Kara Banegas, who threw the shot put 33 feet, 5 inches.
The boys shot put was won by junior Daniel Van Tol, whose distance of 48 feet, 9 inches eclipsed his personal record of 43 feet, 4-1/2 inches set during a dual meet last May.
“It was a huge PR for him,” Edwards said. “I’m really excited. He’s going to throw well this year.”
Senior Javier Dominguez took first place in the boys 200-meter dash with a 23.1-second performance. Riley won the boys 1,600-meter race in 4:32.6. Stidham’s time of 2:11.5 won the boys 800-meter event.
“I was pleased with how we completed. We had a quite a few first places,” Edwards said.
Banegas had been accepted into the invitational shot put for the Bronco Invitational, but a death in her family deprived the Bulldogs of Banegas, her sister, and Dominguez. The Scholastic Aptitude Test was also given March 9, and left the Bulldogs without six other athletes including girls thrower Claire Hagan, girls jumper Callie Guasti, and boys sprinter Nathan Cherek.
Jackson cleared 9 feet, 7 inches at the Bronco Invitational, giving her a personal record by 13 inches.
“Pretty exciting,” Edwards said.
Two other girls also had 9 feet, 7 inch distances; the criteria of fewer misses at lower distances is used as the tiebreaker which gave Jackson first place.
Running events are timed in 1/10-second intervals if a hand-held timer is used and in 1/100-second increments in meets with an electronic timer. Riley had a time of 9:31.32 in the Bronco Invitational’s 3,200-meter race to beat out Mt. Carmel’s Eric Sindel and his 9:31.56 time. La Costa Canyon’s Steven Fahy was third at 9:35.94.
“They were running neck and neck,” Edwards said. “It was really a close race.”
Ramona’s distance medley relay team posted a time of 10:56.37 while second-place Torrey Pines finished in 10:57.38. Stidham opened with the 1,200-meter segment, Corona took the baton for 400 meters, Edwards covered 800 meters, and Riley anchored the race with the 1,600-meter portion.
Mehaffie threw the shot put 40 feet, 10 inches at the Bronco Invitational, where weather had caused one of the shot put pits to be under water and the other pit to be in substandard condition.
Ramona’s girls 4x100 relay team of juniors Courtney Ford and Kelci Freeman and freshmen Hannah Farhat and Stallman placed second with a time of 53.42 seconds. Despite the absence of Dominguez and Cherek, the boys 4x100 relay quartet of seniors Colton Wood and Morgan Schmidt, Corona, and junior Tanarat Crowe finished third at 46.51 seconds. Stidham ran the invitational boys 1,600-meter race in 4:29.27 to take sixth place.
Although Ciara Lucas placed 10th in the freshman girls 1,600-meter race, her time of 5:38.89 was a significant improvement over the 5:53 she posted in the dual meet two days earlier.
“She’s going to be one of our best runners in the next few years. She has a lot of potential. I’m really excited about her,” Edwards said.
The Bulldogs will compete in the Valley League this year.
“I think that we’re definitely going to be more competitive in the Valley League this year than we were last year in the Palomar League,” Edwards said.
Edwards returns three assistant coaches from last year while one of the assistant coaches is new. John Baum joins the program and will handle the throwers. Billy Clark will assist with the sprinters, Steve Albanese is the distance assistant, and Bob Verhoest will tutor the pole vaulters. Edwards will handle hurdlers and jumpers, as well as head coaching duties.
The Bulldogs’ first home meet will start at 3:15 Thursday; Ramona will host Westview in a non-league dual meet.