It was the final league outing of the season for the Varsity Panthers, as they took on the best from the 17 other PAL teams in today’s championship meet. Today’s top 6 finishers would receive medals, with the top 5 earning a coveted spot in next week’s CCS Trials in Gilroy.
The day started off with the Girls High Jump and Boys Long Jump. Aidan O’Sullivan, Ryan Lowe, and Mahdi Shihadeh took flight for the boys, all jumping well enough to qualify for the final flight of three jumps. The boys ended the day with Aidan taking 10th overall, Ryan placing 8th, and Mahdi taking 4th with a PR leap of 19’ 10.25”. Mahdi brings home a medal, and will represent the Panthers next week in the CCS trials. For the Girls High Jump, Olivia Bollinger took 6th overall, earning a medal for herself, and she will be the alternate in case one of the top 5 finishers cannot compete next weekend. Well done by our Panther jumpers today.
Our boys 4x400m relay would be challenged, not by other team’s but by an injury. Mahdi Shihadeh, pulled his hamstring in one of his final jumps, and would not be able to run. But that did not stop Juwon Park, Ethan, Biddle, alternate Joshua Varghese, and Copper Glavin (more on him later) from taking 6th overall, earning some additional hardware for their finish. They now sit in the alternate spot in that event for the CCS Trials. Also performing well in the relays events were Namiha Yashuda, Zoe Keeley, Olivia Bollinger, and Jessica Masterson (more on her later). Although there was only one other team in their heat, the Panther ladies showed that they deserve their spot amongst the best in our league. They posted fast enough times in each race to finish ahead of the best teams in the league, earning 6th overall in the 4x100m, and 5th overall in the 4x400m. Each young lady picks up a medal for each race, but most importantly, the Lady Panthers earn a berth in next week’s CCS Trials for the 4x400m. They live to race another week!
In a fast and competitive 800m race, Namiha Yasuda took 9th overall in our league, while Brendan Creeks and Jason Schech represented the Boys in the 3200m. Brendan took 20th in a very large field, while Jason, coming up just shy of his PR goal of under 10’, placed 6th overall. Jason ran a very smart race, leading two out of the 8 laps, and showed he can run with the best in the league. He stands as the alternate for next week’s CCS meet.
Sonja Dommen, in a gutsy move, choose to forgo her spot in today’s 1600m final, even though she qualified with a great performance in last week’s trials. She turned her incredible focus to today’s 3200m final, in a field that included CCS and potentially state meet qualifiers. Although nervous at the start, Sonja quickly got down to business, running a brilliant and intelligent race, and taking 4th place overall, earning a medal, and a lifetime best of 11:23 in that event. Most importantly, she earned a coveted spot in next week’s CCS Trials. Job well done, Sonja!
Our most exciting performances of the day came both as expected, and unexpected. First, Cooper Glavin, who finished the day with a blistering first leg of the 4x400m relay, doubled in both hurdle races. Although quite nervous leading up to the 11om hurdles, Cooper settled in and took 8th overall with a PR mark of 17.49 seconds. But he saved his best for the 300m hurdle event, which he has been working on for the last few seasons. He led the race from the very beginning, taking a commanding lead by the 3rd hurdle, and beating the other runners in the race by over a second. He relinquished that lead, posting a lifetime best of 42.16 seconds, and taking the top spot in the league, and earning the title of PAL champion. Seeing him atop the podium has been the culmination of three years of very hard work and focus. He will represent the PAL next week against the best in the Central Coast, and we look forward to his performance in Gilroy next weekend.
Finally, Jessica Masterson continues to find a way to extend her incredible senior season. In what was to be her final competition as a Panther, she entered the day with the tallest task of all Panthers: 4 events, including leading one relay, and anchoring the other. She got off to a fantastic start, putting the Panthers in medal contention in the 4x100m relay, and along with her teammates, finished 6th overall, and earning a medal. Finishing the day, she raced with the 4x400m relay team, a team that was in the slower heat, and not expected to place in the top 6. Running all alone on the anchor leg, with no one to push her, she and the other girls ran their fastest legs of the season, bringing the team across the line in a season’s best 4:28. They shocked the entire 4x400m field, posting the 5th fastest time all day, and earning medals and that highly coveted CCS Trial spot in Gilroy. Just two events prior, Jessica ran to a PR mark of 27.65, taking 7th overall. But her best performance of the day was the 400m. With her PR mark from last week’s trials, she was expected to finish in the 5th or 6th position. But again, Jessica always finds a way to outperform expectations. She ran her best race of the season, posting a lifetime best of 62.58, almost a full second better than last week’s mark, and took 3rd overall. Jessica has proven to be our most durable and dependable athlete over these last four years. She has proven year after year that times heats, and expectations don’t matter. When you focus, work hard, and remain coachable, there are no limits to what you can accomplish. We are fortunate to have an athlete like Jessica, and we get to share one more week with her, and her teammates, at the CCS trials next week in Gilroy. Tremendous kudos to a very deserving Lady Panther!
We entered this season hoping to have performances enough to do well at the PAL Finals. We exit the season with an additional week of competition on the shoulders of some incredible performances. The Panthers will see the best in all of CCS next week in Gilroy, and we anxiously await the results. Well done, Panthers!