The high school track and field season will reach a crescendo on the last Friday in May and the first weekend in June, and several Trinity League athletes figure to create some noise before they’re through.
A number of sprinters, hurdlers, distance runners, leapers, vaulters and throwers from around the league posted marks during the regular season that would qualify them for the state championships June 3-4 at Buchanan High School in Clovis, but they must deliver similar performances at the Southern Section Masters Meet on May 27 at Cerritos College in order to punch their ticket.
To qualify for the Masters, athletes must place in the top 12, regardless of division, in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 meters, and all field events at the CIF-SS finals May 21 at Cerritos College, and the top nine in the remaining races.
The top six finishers in each Masters event will then advance to the state meet, as well as those who achieve an at-large qualifying mark in their respective event.
At least one athlete from an Orange County-based Trinity League school has won a state title in each of the last three seasons, and the best shot at continuing that streak might come in the girls’ pole vault, an event Kaitlyn Merritt of Santa Margarita won as a sophomore in 2013 and again last season.
McKenna Caskey of Mater Dei posted the second-best mark in the state during the regular season when she cleared 13 feet 4 inches at the Orange County Championships on April 23. Caskey, a junior, will be aiming for her third straight trip to the state finals after finishing ninth as a freshman and fifth last season.
Another vaulter from the Trinity League who could swoop in and win the title is Kate Thomas of Santa Margarita, who finished third in state last season behind Merritt and Rachel Baxter of Canyon, the current state leader. Erin Gerardo, another junior at Santa Margarita, should also be in the hunt for a state final berth after finishing second behind Caskey at the Orange County Championships and Trinity League finals.
Winning an individual state title on the boys’ side should be considerably more difficult for the OC-based Trinity League schools.
Andrew Burkhardt of JSerra won a Division IV state title in cross-country last fall, but the state track and field championships are not separated into divisions, making the competition extremely deeper.
Burkhardt set meet records at the Trinity League finals in the 1,600 and 3,200 earlier this month. His top time in the 1,600 this season (4:06.93) was seventh-best in state during the regular season and his PR in the 3,200 (9:01.62) was 13th best.
The Lions have a chance to get a couple more athletes through to the state finals, as Luke Wattenberg delivered the ninth-best discus throw in the Southern Section this season when he went 173-9 at the Orange County Championships. Wattenberg could be joined by teammate Adam Chacon, whose season-best of 171 feet is not only better than the state at-large qualifying mark of 168-9, but the top mark in the state by a sophomore.
A state final berth in the boys’ 400 could also come down to a pair of Trinity League athletes. Mason Mitchell of Santa Margarita posted the sixth-fastest time in the Southern Section and seventh-fastest in state back in February, but Keyon Riley of Servite beat Mitchell at the Trinity League finals and at the Orange County Championships with the state’s 14th best time (48.51).