Devil tracksters shine at invitationals around the state

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Top runners on the DHS track team competed at the rainy Arcadia Invitational in Arcadia, Calif. on April 8 and 9. April saw the Blue Devils race well at a number of prestigious races around the state. (Courtesy photo: J. John)

By Kellen Browning, Editor-in-Chief–

For three straight weekends, select athletes from the Davis High track team competed at prestigious and competitive meets around California.

At the Stanford Invitational on April 1 and 2, distance runners, relay teams and jumpers made the trek to Palo Alto, and were rewarded with national-leading marks and school records.

Of particular note were the two distance medley relay (DMR) teams, which included a 1200-meter leg, 400-meter leg, 800-meter leg and 1600-meter leg. The women’s DMR, anchored by two-time cross-country state champion Fiona O’Keeffe, ran 11:52.87, a U.S. No.1 time and school record. The men’s relay took second in 10:14.32, also a school record and U.S. No.2.

Senior Willie Hall broke the 800-meter school record, placing second in 1:51.76–a mark he bettered at the following weekend’s Arcadia Invitational, where he again finished second in 1:51.59.

“Willie ran really well–that was a breakthrough performance for him,” head coach Spencer Elliott said. “And then he followed it up Arcadia, which was really cool because he was in a different situation at Arcadia than he was in Stanford and he reacted really well.”

Also at Arcadia–which took place in Los Angeles County April 8 and 9, and is billed as the most competitive high school meet in the nation–the women’s team continued its relay dominance. Sophomore Olivia O’Keeffe, juniors Abbey Fisk and Sofia Castiglioni and Olivia’s senior sister Fiona, the members of the Stanford DMR team, won the 4×1600-meter relay in a U.S. No.1 20:05.26.

The following day, Castiglioni won her heat of the mile in 4:59.88, and Olivia O’Keeffe took second in hers in 4:57.54.

“Arcadia and Stanford were great experiences for us, both personally and as a team,” Olivia O’Keeffe said. “Arcadia especially gave me confidence for the rest of the season since I was able to [achieve a personal record] in the mile.”

While most athletes rested last weekend, a small squad attended the local Woody Wilson Classic, held at Toomey Field on UC Davis campus.

Sophomore Tazio Rosenberg, competing against mostly seniors, finished fifth in both his discus (130-feet-8-inches) and shot put (42-feet-0.25 inches) flights, while the women’s 4×100-meter relay team ran 50.89 to take third overall. Senior Amelia Otto-Cutting and freshman Hannah Lybbert both cleared 4-foot-10-inches in the high jump, finishing first and fourth respectively.

Elliott says he places much more stock in post-season races like the Delta League Championships and Sac-Joaquin Section Championships than he does mid-season invitationals, but still views the competitive meets as great opportunities for some athletes.

“They serve a purpose of preparing athletes for post-season, and they serve a purpose in some cases, for some athletes, for perhaps marketing themselves for universities or whatnot,” Elliott said. “But from a competitive standpoint […] it doesn’t really matter to me how we do at an Arcadia, say, as long as what we’re doing at Arcadia is preparing us for what we want to do in May and June.”

Though most athletes benefited from a break in the schedule, Elliott thinks those who did attend Woody Wilson got valuable experience.

“The folks that we did bring down needed it,” he said. “For example, the girls’ 4×100: We wanted to practice passes in a meet situation.”

Next on the schedule for the busy track team is a home league meet against Monterey Trail Wednesday, April 20, followed by the Halden Invitational on Saturday, April 23.

Halden, hosted by DHS at Ron and Mary Brown Stadium, is the team’s primary fundraiser of the year; part of the money spent on t-shirts and concessions at the annual meet, which lasts from 10 a.m. till 9 or 10 at night, will go to the track program.

Admission is $3 for students and senior citizens, and $5 for everyone else.

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