Rio Mesas 4×100 relay team battles through key injury to take Division 2 title

Photo Finish.
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ameron Roach comes from one meter back to win by a fraction of a second at the finish line.
Another hurdle is out of the way.

One more approaches fast.

High school student-athletes still going strong this track and field postseason are gearing up for the CIF-Southern Section Masters Meet at Cerritos College in Norwalk today.

“The Masters meet might be the best meet in California, other than the state finals,” said Rio Mesa High head coach Brian FitzGerald. “It’s compact and doesn’t take all day. It’s the best of the best of 600 schools in Southern California.”

Multiple locals excelled during last weekend’s section finals at Cerritos.

Rio Mesa made a late substitution to the boys’ 4×100-meter relay quartet but won the Division 2 race in 41.66 seconds.

The Spartans edged secondplace Colony by 0.01 of a second.

“It was a great photo finish,” FitzGerald said.

Spartan junior Darion Zimmerman replaced the injured Blake Selig in the third leg. Selig broke his fibula during the baton handoff of the 4×100 race at the previous week’s section preliminaries, and he’s out for the season.

Zimmerman joined Marcus Alford and brothers LaDarrin and Cameron Roach on the victorious relay squad.

Another Spartan, Raegan Nizdil, will join her teammates at Norwalk. The sophomore advanced with a high jump of 5 feet, 4 inches, good for second place in Division 2.

“Raegan’s main goal is to get over 5-8,” FitzGerald said. “It’s going to take 5-5 to get to the state meet. She’s got a great shot.”

Oaks Christian had a meet to remember.

The Lion boys and girls finished second overall in the Division 4 team standings to Serra.

Ally Courtnall keeps getting faster.

The senior, bound for UCLA on a soccer scholarship, set four school records during the CIF Finals, including a victory in the girls’ 200 in 24.07.

Courtnall also set OCHS marks in the 100 and the 4×100 and 4×400 relays.

“In the 11-year history of the school, it’s the best single-day performance,” Oaks Christian head coach Wes Smith said.

Lion sophomore Vinnie Saucer won the boys’ 100 in 10.57 and 200 in 21.78. Saucer, Ronny Camacho, Tony Johnson and Ishmael Adams won the 4×100 relay.

“It’s no surprise to us that he could dominate this division,” Smith said of Saucer.

Oaks Christian’s Jordan Pitcher won the boys’ 110 hurdles in 15.01.

Paul Vozzo (pole vault), Kim Sanchez ( pole vault) Lauren Anderson (triple jump) Cristina Garcia (3,200), Danielle Alakija (4×400), Megan Huning (4×400) and Abby King (4×400) also had fine showings at the finals for OCHS.

This is the Lion boys’ fourth second-place finish in the section championships. They won a title in 2006.

The Oaks Christian girls are treading on new territory. This is their best finish in school history after notching fourth in 2010.

Newbury Park twin sisters Morgan and Megan Thompson will keep lacing their shoes.

Morgan Thompson won the Division 2 girls’ 400 in 56.01. Megan Thompson nabbed second in the 800 in 2:14.05.

“I just wanted to qualify,” Megan Thompson said. “Hopefully I can go on to state for prelims and, from there, state finals. I’m just trying to go out and compete.”

The senior said she’ll cut down the workload in the hopes of being fresh and focused for the next step.

“I’m focusing on raw speed,” she said. “I have to prepare myself mentally before the race. By the time I get to the race, I’m not nervous and know what I need to do and get the job done.”

The Thompsons signed scholarships to Cal State Fullerton.

Panther teammate and fellow senior Sean Grumney, a future UCLA Bruin, advanced in the boys’ 800.

Johnathan Cabral continued his hurdles dominance.

The Agoura senior won the 110 hurdles in a section record 13.54 seconds in Division 3 action. The previous record of 13.65 seconds was set in 1982.

He also nabbed a 300 hurdles title in 37.17. The University of Oregon signee owns school records in both events.

“Johnathan’s obviously done extremely well this year,” said Agoura head coach Cathy Prater, who holds four Charger track records, including girls’ 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles.

“A lot of his numbers speak for themselves. One of his goals this year is to go after records in nearly every race he runs.”

Cabral could be gunning for a California title and record in the 110 hurdles during the state meet June 2 and 3 at Buchanan High in Clovis.

“ It’s definitely within his reach,” Prater said. “There are a lot of factors outside his control. He’s doing his part and preparing as well as possible.”

Oak Park siblings Madison and Connor Stark fared well in the Division 3 pole vault.

Madison Stark, a senior heading to UCLA, took second in the girls’ event with a vault of 11-9, a personal record.

“It looks like she’s turned things around,” Oak Park head coach Marc Minasian said.

The coach said Stark broke a school record previously held by her sister, Aubrey.

Connor Stark won the boys’ pole vault in 15-3.

“Connor always does his best when the pressure’s on him and people are watching,” Minasian said. “He rises to the occasion. He’s a real athlete and a real competitor.”

Simi Valley freshman sensation Sarah Baxter secured the Division 1 girls’ 3,200 crown in 10:16.99.

Pioneer senior Matt Ringgold will join Baxter at Norwalk. Ringgold nabbed fourth in the boys’ Division 1 long jump in 22-1.5.

“I want to see him do well and enjoy the ride,” said Simi Valley jumps coach Wiley Hunt on Ringgold.

Luigi “Gino” Colella will represent Westlake.

The freshman had a pole vault of 14-9 in the boys’ Division 2 fi- nal, a personal and school record.

According to his father, assistant coach Antonio Colella, the Warrior is the No. 1 freshman pole vault specialist in California.

He’s also earned the second best vault in the nation.

“I’m very pleased,” Antonio Colella said.

The younger Colella is a third generation pole vaulter. His father and grandfather are Italian champions in the sport.

“By the time he’s a senior,” the coach said, “I don’t know what he’s going to do.”

Thousand Oaks’ Phillip Hanley (pole vault and high jump) and Heyden Wooff of Camarillo (3,200) also advanced to Masters.

“Around this time of year it’s a little more exciting,” Megan Thompson said. “This is what you’re training all year for.”

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