They’ve spent the last six months trying to outscore, outperform or outlast each other. But on Friday afternoon, some of the best athletes in the Trinity League will do a 180. A handful of track and field teams from the Trinity League will team up for a second straight year to take on the South Coast League at the South County Classic at Mission Viejo High.
If last year’s results are any indication, expect the unique format to squeeze the most from competitors. At last year’s inaugural event, school records were broken, state-leading marks were produced and two of the best performances in Orange County history were delivered. Expect nothing less the second time around.
The Trinity League athletes should be extra motivated after they were overwhelmed last March by the South Coast League, which took three of the top four spots in the boys’ team standings and two of the top three in the girls’ competition to win both overall competitions. Individually, however, the top performances last season were produced by Trinity League boys in the sprints and pole vault competitions.
This time around, the boys’ throwing events could see some all-time marks come tumbling down at the hands of the Trinity League. At the season-opening Santa Margarita Invitational on Feb. 28, Matt Katnik of St. John Bosco unleashed the 18th best put in state history with a mark of 66 feet 8 1/2 inches, which was also the best heave by an L.A. County prep since 1976. Could Katnik become the first Californian in the last 18 years to toss the shot 70 feet? Many believe it’s only a matter of time.
Malik McMorris of Mater Dei, fourth in state last season in the shotput and discus, is back as well. He won the discus at the Santa Margarita Invitational with a throw of 189 feet, well ahead of second-place finisher Luke Wattenburg of JSerra (169-1). McMorris’s throw was also the top mark in the nation through the early part of this outdoor season.
A year ago at this event, Curtis Godin of Mater Dei and Carl Johansson of Orange Lutheran, both seniors at the time, delivered historic individual performances at San Clemente High. Godin won the 100 meters in a wind-legal 10.50 seconds, the third-fastest time ever posted by an Orange County sprinter. He came back with a victory in the 200 meters in 21.29 seconds. Combined, they were the fastest times ever posted on the same day in county history. No surprise, Godin went on to win state titles in the 100 and 200.
Johansson had gone 15-10 in the pole vault in winning a state title as a junior in 2013, then upped the ante with a leap of 16-6 at last season’s South County Classic, which was the fifth highest vault in county history (Mater Dei brothers Michael and Greg Woepse had gone higher). He went on to defend his state title with a leap of 16-11 3/4, moving him up to No. 2 on the Orange County all-time list behind Michael Woepse’s 17-6 in 2010.
On the girls’ side this season, Mater Dei pole vaulter McKenna Caskey finished tied for ninth in state last season as the only freshman in the finals, but she should be pressed by Santa Margarita teammates Kaitlyn Merritt and Kate Thomas. Merritt cleared 13 feet to win the Santa Margarita Invitational and Thomas cleared a personal-best 12 feet, the same height as Caskey, to finish in the top three.