TRACK: Low turnout but high effort at 42nd Avis Kelley

's Jourdan Soares races to the finish in the 200 meter dash Saturday during the Avis Kelley Invitational at Gilroy High School.

On March 31, Gilroy High sprinter Jourdan Soares won his 100-meter dash preliminary heat and was slotted into the finals as the No. 1-qualifier out of 39 participants in the field. Later that saturated Saturday morning, heavy rains and blustery winds interrupted the 42nd annual Avis Kelley Invitational – GHS’s home meet that routinely attracts dozens of teams. And for the first time in its illustrious history, the meet had to be postponed.

Flash forward one month to Saturday – pristine conditions; a cloudless blue sky and abundant sunshine. There stood Soares at the starting line, going through his pre-race preparations seconds before the 100 finals. To his right, empty lanes. Only rubber to his left. The gun sounded and Soares ran the finals all alone – literally.

With many of the teams unable to return for the conclusion of the meet – reasons why including previous scheduled engagements – it wasn’t the way meet organizers envisioned the 42nd annual event. But former GHS coach and current Christopher High head coach Jeff Myers made a promise that in no way he’d break.

“We said we would do it, and we did,” said Myers, who slept on campus the night before after working feverously to make all the necessary adjustments. “I promised everyone. And when you make a commitment, you stick to it. It is such a big thing and so important for us to keep this meet going. It was a disappointing turnout that’s for sure, but we held up our end of it. I’m proud of the fact that the staff came together and pulled everything off.”

Volunteers, coaches and officials took to their posts, and those who did return went about their business in typical spirited meet fashion, cheering on teammates and counterparts alike.

Soares wasn’t the only one to compete solo, either, and some events only had two, three or four participants. The low numbers, though, allowed the sun to shine on local competitors’ performances.

“I think all the kids did their best under the circumstances,” GHS head coach Cathy Silva said.

Luis Magana, who has added one foot, six inches to his pole vault personal best since the offseason and was a week removed from setting his PR of 14-feet at back-to-back meets, nearly hit another best (14-feet, 1-inch) Saturday.

“I almost had it. I hit (the bar) with my chest when I was coming down,” said the senior, who is currently No. 4 in the Central Coast Section. “I’ll get it next week.”

Soares had three opponents in the 200 – a race that he said is, “being a little nicer to me right now.” The defending CCS champ in the 100, set the school record in the 200 (22.14 seconds) April 20, and easily won the event Saturday with a 22.22.

“I thought he did very well seeing that he didn’t have that extra competition,” Silva said.

Savannah Silacci took second in the 800 with a PR time of 2-minutes, 29-seconds. It was the second of two medals for the senior Saturday. She also placed fourth in the mile (5:36.17.) San Benito’s Vanessa Estrada took first in 4:59.06.) Enrique Villanueva had a double medal day, earning the bronze in the 800 (2:06.13) and silver in the 2-mile (11:14.98.) Samantha UnaDia had a busy day, anchoring a come-from-behind victory for the Mustangs in the 4X100 relay (UnaDia, Chelsey Kalata, Allita Watkins and Keli Dan) then placing first in the 100 hurdles and second – by a lean – in the 300 hurdles. UnaDia edged Christopher freshman Ally Foster, who ran the event for the first time, at the finish line. UnaDia’s 49.66 was a personal best. Andrew Mikkleson also had a pair of podium appearances with bronze in the long jump and gold in the high jump.

Foster, who came in at 49.67, now owns the top time in the 300 hurdles in the Monterey Bay League and the Christopher school record.

Teammate Marty Ettema continued his late-season surge, posting a season-best in the 110 hurdles (15.43) for first place. He also grabbed gold in the 300 hurdles (41.99.).

Gilroy has its final Tri-County Athletic League dual meet of the season Wednesday as North Salinas comes to town. The Mustangs will then prepare for next Tuesday’s league trails. Christopher, whose girls squad wrapped up a 6-0 MBL regular season last week, has its league trails next Tuesday as well.

Local medalists:

Olivia Baxter – CHS: 200 (3rd); Austin Boyd – GHS: Discus (4th); Andre Bufi – GHS: Pole vault (3rd); Marty Ettema – CHS: 110 hurdles (1st), 300 hurdles (1st); Claudia Ferreira – CHS: 300 hurdles (4th); Ally Foster – CHS: 300 hurdles (3rd), long jump (4th), triple jump (5th); Chelsey Kalata – GHS: 100 (2nd), 200 (1st); Luis Magana – GHS: Pole vault (1st); Carly McPolin – CHS: 100 (5th); Andrew Mikkleson – GHS: Long jump (3rd), high jump (1st); Haylee Peterson – CHS: 100 hurdles (2nd); Noemi Rivera – GHS: 3200 (4th); Sarina Sandoval – GHS: Shot put (1st); Savannah Silacci – GHS: 800 (2nd), 1600 (4th); Jourdan Soares – GHS: 100 (1st), 200 (1st); Samantha UnaDia – GHS: 100 hurdles (1st), 300 hurdles (2nd); Enrique Villanueva – GHS: 800 (2nd), 1600 (8th), 3200 (2nd); Scott Vogel – GHS: Discus (3rd); Allita Watkins – GHS: 400 (5th), 200 (6th)

Junior varsity:

Kairo Barroso – GHS: Pole vault (5th); Bridget Brown – CHS: 400 (1st), 300 hurdles (4th); Matt Castro – GHS: Shot put (1st), discus (1st); Kayla Gonzalez – GHS: 400 (3rd); Bryan Kachakji – GHS: Pole vault (3rd); Geoffrey Martinez – CHS: 100 (2nd), long jump (4th); Jorge Murillo – GHS: Triple jump (1st), high jump (5th); Bryan Pipkin – CHS: Pole Vault (1st); Courtney Pipkin – GHS: Long jump (3rd), triple jump (1st), pole vault (1st); Wendy Valdez Rodriguez – GHS: 800 (3rd); Tim Van Horn – GHS: High jump (4th); Jazmine Villanueva – GHS: Shot put (1st), discus (1st)

Leave your comments