Track and field twosome has history on its side

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© Richard Gillard/Acorn Newspapers
Rio Mesa High junior Anika Gasner, left, and sophomore Raegan Nizdil are standout competitors for the school’s track and field squad. Gasner shines in the 800 and 4x400 relay, while Nizdil excels in the high jump, long jump and sprint relay events. © Richard Gillard/Acorn Newspapers
Raegan Nizdil and Anika Gasner are good friends and fierce competitors.

Together, they lead the Rio Mesa High track and field team.

Nizdil, who reached the 2010 state meet as a freshman, is a superstar high jumper.

Gasner, a junior, is one of the fastest 800-meter runners in Ventura County.

They don’t spend all their time at the track.

“We go Rollerblading together,” Nizdil said.

The friends have fun and get results.

Nizdil has a career high 5 feet, 6 inches in the high jump.

She’s been close to breaking her personal record several times this season.

Her jumps are on par with the best leaps of California’s finest high jumpers so far this year. She’d like to catapult 5-8 by the end of this season, and perhaps 5-10 before graduation.

The sophomore also competes in the 4×100 relay, the 4×400 relay and the long jump. Her personal record in the long jump is 15 feet, 6 inches.

Head coach Brian FitzGerald marvels at Nizdil’s versatility.

“She’s willing to do whatever needs to be done for the team in a dual setting so we can score points,” FitzGerald said. “Raegan’s all about the team. She’s a specialist, but she helps us out in other areas.”

Gasner enjoys having Nizdil as a teammate.

“She’s super humble,” Gasner said of Nizdil. “She’s a great friend and a super good athlete.”

Nizdil, 16, has the DNA for track success.

The Spartan’s father, Brad, coached Nizdil as a youngster with the Camarillo Cosmos youth track team. Her mother, Kelly Churchman, won a CIF-Southern Section title and once held Rio Mesa’s record in the 400.

Her older sister, Riley, secured a CIF-SS Division 2 high jump crown her junior year. Riley Nizdil, a Moorpark College student, volunteers as a high jump pit official during Rio Mesa home meets.

“She’s my inspiration,” Raegan Nizdil said of her sister. “We’re really close.

“When I get stressed out, my sister’s there to tell me to relax and take a break. She’s proud of me.”

Nizdil is also an opposite for the RMHS volleyball team, and she’s diving for the swim team this spring. She’ll have a busy day on April 29, diving at 3 p.m. against Camarillo before jumping later that night at the Ventura County Championships at Moorpark High.

The sophomore has a 3.9 grade-point average and takes Advanced Placement classes in biology and European history.

She enjoys watching movies with her sister.

High jump has always appealed to Nizdil.

“It’s so fascinating to watch,” she said. “A big goal of mine is to go to college for track.”

Gasner sets the pace for the middle-distance runners.

The junior set her career-best mark in the 800 in 2:17 during last season’s Ventura County Championships. She also runs the 400 and is an anchor in the 4×400 relay.

After not racing at many large meets last year, Gasner relishes facing the best competition around, including last weekend’s Arcadia Invitational and the upcoming Mt. SAC Invitational today and Saturday.

“It’s better to push yourself hard,” Gasner said.

The Rio Mesa coaching staff envisions big things for Gasner.

“If she’s not the top, she’s one of the top 800 runners in the county,” FitzGerald said. “There’s a big upside to Anika. She’s doing real good speed work. She’s going to improve. You’re going to see good stuff from her.”

Gasner runs cross country in the fall even though she finds it “long and tedious.” The 800, or half-mile, suits her just fine.

“The mile is too boring, and the 400 is over too quickly,” she said. “The 800 is the perfect distance. The 800 is more mental. You have to think about it more.”

Gasner is shooting for 2:15 in the 800 at Mt. SAC today, and hopefully a spot in the upcoming Masters meet.

The daughter of Kari and Kevin, Gasner has two older sisters, Kelsey and Rikke.

Kelsey Gasner runs cross country and track at Biola University, where she set two school records in February. Rikke Gasner swam for Rio Mesa.

Anika Gasner, who played volleyball as a freshman, is an honors student with a 3.7 GPA who enjoys wakeboarding and riding horses with her mom.

“She’s the sweetest person ever,” Nizdil said of Gasner. “She works so hard. She’s super nice and super friendly and everyone adores her. She’s a great friend.”

Spartan sprinters fastest in state

Multiple Rio Mesa studentathletes are enjoying fine seasons.

On the boys’ side, the 4×100 relay team has the top time in California this year in 48.38 seconds. It’s the sixth-fastest time in the nation, according to FitzGerald.

Senior Marcus Alford, senior LaDarrin Roach, junior Blake Selig and junior Cameron Roach form the formidable 4×100 relay.

Darion Zimmerman and Tanner Wrout add sprinting depth.

Anthony Teart excels in the hurdles and jumps. Christian Mc- Nair, who projects to be the football team’s starting quarterback in the fall, thrives in the discus.

Glenn “Geno” Arthur is a strong long-distance ace.

For the girls’ team, Kayla Lindquist scores points in the high jump, long jump and triple jump. Lindquist is crucial in the Spartans’ quest for a Pacific View League title.

Sabrina Sewell, Yvonne Solis and Jenna Nava aid the long- and middle-distance running crew.

Elena Roffel is one of the county’s best discus throwers. Roffel also throws the shot put.

Alisha Greenlaw and Denise DeClet are the top sprinters. Greenlaw and Kelsea Swan are standout hurdlers.

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