BY STEPHEN LYNCH Special to The Californian
With Stockdale’s elite middle distance runners Blake Haney and Connor Fisher not around, it was a couple of Highland boys sprinters that stole the show at Friday’s Patriot Games.
The Scots Elijah Baier and David Garcia Jr., combined to win five races, several of them in blistering times.
Baier posted new Central Section best marks in winning the 100-meter (10.84) and 200-meter (21.97) sprints, while Garcia edged Ridgeview star Ivan Gonzalez to finish first in the 400-meter run.
Sandwiched around all of their individual victories, Baier and Garcia helped Highland take both boys relay races.
“I’m just so excited,” Baier said. “I’ve been waiting for this meet all year. I didn’t think I could do it but I should have never doubted himself because I proved I that I could run these times. I’m just so pumped that I did it today.”
Haney, Fisher, and Asia Chesley, one of the best girls high jumpers in the section, were all out of town on Friday competing at the prestigious Mount SAC Relays.
The Mustangs’ Kiare Tanner, the section leader in the triple jump, also did not participate in the Patriot Games because she is still “banged up” according to Stockdale coach Dave Lonsinger.
“She is just getting some rest and recovery time but she’ll be back soon,” Lonsinger said.
While four of Stockdale’s biggest stars didn’t take part in the meet at Liberty, many of the section’s best track and field athletes were on hand.
And many of them turned in outstanding performances as four meet records fell and several of the section’s top marks were bettered too.
Independence’s Brena Andrews time of 24.66 seconds in the 200 both broke a Patriot Games record and gave her the section’s fastest time in that event this year.
Earlier in the day Andrews ran the 100 in 11.93 seconds, which would have been the top mark in the section this year had it not been wind aided. Andrews set the meet record in the 100 last year (11.79).
The Independence speedster began the meet by running the second leg of the Falcons’ 4x100 relay team, which set a new meet record with a time of 47.53. The old mark of 48.32 seconds was set in 2009 by Bakersfield High.
“I just wanted to run really well today,” Andrews said. “We’ve been training a little different this year because we want me to peak at the right time. I’ve been really wanting to run those fast times but I understand I can’t. I’m not going to be as fast because I haven’t been getting the leg turnover going yet. But I just really wanted to try my best today.”
Liberty’s Morganne Hill was equally as impressive. The sophomore set a new meet record in winning the 300 hurdles (43.06) not long after lowering her own section best mark in the 100 hurdles this year from 14.87 to 14.82.
Her 300 hurdles time, No. 1 all-time in the section for sophomores, is just six-one hundredths of a section off the Liberty school record.
“I’m tired but excited at the same time,” Hill said. “It was a pretty good day. It’s good weather so my legs are feeling good. It’s been a good hard week of training but I’m still trying to improve and get that 42 (second time in the 300 hurdles).”
Hill wasn’t the only hurdler to do well on Friday. On the boys side Frontier’s Gabriel Gaeta lowered his own section-best time in the 300 hurdles from 39.86 to 39.54 seconds.
“I got beat in 110 (hurdles),” Gaeta said. “I just put that out of mind and focused on the (300 hurdles) race. Just made sure all my steps were down and finished hard.”
Besides Baier, Andrews, and Hill, there were several other multiple event winners including Colton Foster of Frontier (boys shot put and discus), BHS’ Scotty Newton (boys long jump and triple jump) and Rae Blansett of Liberty (girls shot put and discus).
Foster broke a meet record and topped his own section best mark this year in the shot put with a winning throw of 58-feet, two inches.
While Foster was away from the track dominating the boys throwing events, Baier and Garcia were busy on it winning races.
Garcia leaned at the finish line to beat Gonzalez, who didn’t compete in his signature event the 800 meter run.
Gonzalez is scheduled to run the 800, an event in which he currently has the section’s top time this year (1:52.53), at the Mt. SAC Relays today.
“Me and my coach chose not to run the 800 today because we wanted to work on speed, on getting out for the 800,” Gonzalez said. “Because I’m going to need to get out (fast) in the 800 at state.”