The California meet is a special event no matter where it’s held, from Sacramento City College to UC Berkeley to the Los Angeles Coliseum.
“There’s not five divisions, like in Texas,” Rio Mesa High head coach Brian FitzGerald said. “Most states have divisions. There aren’t five state champions in the 100. In California, there’s only one.
“Everybody runs against everybody.”
Surviving each elimination round—from league preliminaries, league finals, section preliminaries, section finals, Masters meet and today’s state preliminaries—is a tougher gantlet than making the cut on “American Idol” and the mutant sasquatch known as Steven Tyler.
For Rio Mesa, the boys’ 4×100-meter relay squad of Blake Selig, Cameron Roach, Darion Zimmerman and Roderick White is a favorite to medal at state.
Selig, Roach, Zimmerman and Anthony Teart join forces in the 4×400 relay. Selig earned a spot in the 100 sprint.
Raegan Nizdil will try to leap to glory in the girls’ high jump.
Sarah Baxter, Simi Valley’s super sophomore, is the fastest girl in the nation in the 3,200, according to DyeStat.
Baxter will vie for back-to-back state crowns in the distance race at 8:46 p.m. Saturday.
Rio Mesa’s sprinters will try to make the cut tonight from 27 hopefuls into the top-nine for Saturday’s finals.
“Everybody that’s going has a chance to medal and do really well,” FitzGerald said.
The 4×100 team won the CIF-Southern Section Masters title in 40.95 seconds last weekend against a loaded field, including Notre Dame, Serra and Oaks Christian.
If the weather is hot and the wind’s not blowing at Buchanan High this weekend, the Spartans could run even faster, the coach said.
“Rest is the most important thing this time of year,” FitzGerald said. “We still have high-intensity workouts. We cut the volume down drastically. . . . We want to have them fresh when we get there.”
Although Rio Mesa has a decorated history in track, the Spartans have never won a state title in a boys’ relay event.
“I don’t know if we can,” FitzGerald said, “but we’re sure going to try.”
Nizdil is the first RMHS student-athlete to qualify for individual events at the state meet as a freshman, sophomore and junior, according to FitzGerald.
The Spartan junior won Masters with a leap of 5 feet, 7 inches. Her personal record is 5-8, and she’s hoping for a special performance at Clovis.
“I would imagine her goal is to win,” FitzGerald said of Nizdil. “That would be the No. 1 goal.”
Baxter won the 3,200 at Masters in 10:08.71. Her best time this season is 10:08.11 at the Arcadia Invitational.
She plans on saving her best race for the last one.
“The ultimate goal is to break 10 minutes,” said Simi Valley head coach Roger Evans. “She’s in top fitness form and should be ready to go. You never know—that’s why they run the races.”
Laura Hollander of Marina will likely be Baxter’s toughest foe.
“Sarah runs to win,” Evans said. “From day one, this has been the focus and goal.”