Winning CIF Southern Section championships is an enjoyable accomplishment for any track and field athlete.
The elite ones like Servite’s Max Thomas, who won CIF-SS Division 3 titles in the 100 and 200 meters Saturday at Moorpark High School, are not yet satisfied.
“It feels good,” Thomas said, “but the main goal is state.”
That would be the CIF State Championships that will be held in Clovis on May 27-28.
The athletes with the top nine performances — in most events — Saturday at the CIF-SS Finals, regardless of division, advance to next week’s CIF-SS Masters Meet at Moorpark High. The top 12 performers in the 800 meters, plus the 1,600, 3,200 and all of the field events, also advance to the Masters Meet, which is the qualifying meet for the state meet.
Thomas won Division 3’s 100 and 200 finals for the second year in a row on a hot and windy day for the athletes and teams trying to compete for championships in four divisions.
Thomas, who signed with USC, won the Division 3 100 in a wind-aided time of 10.35 seconds, beating out Chaminade’s Patrick Ize-Iyamu Jr. (10.38).
Two races later, Los Alamitos freshman Devin Bragg won the Division 1 100 in 10.35. The Bragg and Thomas times of 10.35 are the best 100 mark in Orange County this season under all conditions.
Thomas’ wind-aided 10.37 was the all-conditions best going into the CIF-SS finals, and he has the county’s wind-legal best time of 10.40 this season.
Bragg and Thomas both set school records Saturday in the 100.
Thomas later won the 200 in 20.68 to tie the Division 3 finals record.
“My 100 has a ton of room for improvement, which I’m happy about,” Thomas said. “And the 200, I felt good about that.”
Dana Hills senior Jai Dawson also was outstanding Saturday at Moorpark High School, where the high hit 87 degrees and wind-legal marks were infrequent.
Dawson won the 1,600 in 4:12.55, three seconds off of his Orange County-leading time. Dawson, who signed with UCLA, covered the final lap in 59 seconds.
Dawson later was victorious in the 800 in 1:52.73. As in the 1,600, Dawson took the early lead and out-ran the pack.
Bragg wasn’t the only Orange County freshman who won a CIF-SS championship Saturday. Mater Dei freshman Brandon Gorski won the Division 2 high jump title by clearing the bar at 6 feet, 6 inches.
Foothill senior Austin Overn enhanced his candidacy as Orange County boys athlete of the year. Overn, going to USC on a baseball scholarship and also an All-County football receiver, finished third in the Division 1 100 at 10.45; only Thomas has been faster in the 100 this season.
Crean Lutheran’s Jack Fairchild added to his Orange County boys athlete of the year profile by winning two events. Fairchild, a senior, won the Division 4 100 hurdles in a wind-aided 14.41, almost a half-second better than second-place Elijah Gipson of Oaks Christian (14.87). Fairchild also won the Division 4 triple jump with his season best mark of 46-2.
Fairchild, an outstanding receiver in football and a key reserve on the Saints’ outstanding basketball team, was third in the Division 4 300 hurdles.
San Clemente junior Griffin Schwab cleared 6-6 in the Division 1 high jump. That was also the best mark Saturday of Division 1 high jump winner Seth Johnson of Cajon, who defeated Schwab in a jump off.
No Orange County teams won team CIF-SS championships Saturday. A few teams came close.
Mater Dei’s 58 team points in boys Division 2 fell just short of division champion Long Beach Jordan’s 60 points.
JSerra’s girls scored 75 points in Division 3 to finish third behind Calabasas (80) and Harvard-Westlake (79 points). Servite totaled 62.5 points in Division 3 to finish second to Cathedral (74).
JSerra’s girls team collected 22 points in the 800 in which sophomore Georgia Jeanneret finished second (to defending champion Arielle McKenzie of La Canada), senior Ashlee Gallegos finished fourth, sophomore Brooke O’Brien finished fifth, junior Sydney Paulson was sixth and junior Anastasia Snodgrass was seventh.
Snodgrass won the Division 3 1,600 in 4:59.24.
“Yes, 4:59 was not what I was going for today,” Snodgrass said. “By my main focus was qualifying for Masters.”
The Division 3 events were held after the Division 4 races and preceded the races for Divisions 1 and 2. So it can be difficult for a Division 3 runner to predict what would be a Masters-qualifying time given that a large number of superior times in the Division 1 and 2 races could render a good Division 3 time not good enough for Masters qualification.
“Division 4 had some decent runners,” Snodgrass said. “So for Division 3 I was trying to set my mark for what I thought people would do in races after mine.”
Servite senior Jared Steins went wire-to-wire to win the Division 3 1,600 in 4:17.80. He was challenged throughout by William Kirk of Palos Verdes (4:18.12). Steins will begin attending MIT in the fall.
Katella senior Ashlynn Viramontes ran a county season-best 2:11.73 to win the Division 1 800. The second-place finisher was last season’s champion, Fountain Valley senior Kato Cichon.
Mater Dei junior Logan Lyght won the Division 2 boys 100 hurdles in a wind-aided 13.94, the fastest time in the county under all conditions. His county-leading, wind-legal time in the event is 14.18.
Lyght authoritatively pulled away from the others over the last two hurdles and finished .90 seconds faster than second-place Jeremy Frank of Thousand Oaks.
Canyon senior Travis Zavala won the Division 2 shot put with a throw of 56 feet, 9.5 inches.
Santa Margarita junior Roman Mendoza broke to the early lead and finished strong in the Division 3 300 hurdles to win it in 38.99, a half-second off of his county-leading time in the event.