Christopher High’s Amari Bluford competes in the long jump event in the 2023 CCS Top 8 Meet in Los Gatos. File photo
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As the rain departed and the clouds passed by Gilroy, the Christopher track and field team shined brightly at the 51st Avis Kelley Invitational. 

The big early-season meet on March 23 involved athletes from 39 schools from all over the Central Coast Section and some from other areas of California.

The Cougars finished third overall, behind only Hollister and Aptos. The CHS boys totaled 31 points for fifth place and the Cougar girls scored 60 for third place in that competition.

The event honors longtime Gilroy coach Avis Kelley, who died in December 2022 at the age of 88. Kelley was head football coach at Gilroy High from 1965-1969 and head track coach from 1965-1992. During his coaching tenure, Avis coached five state finalists, won over 100 regional team championships, and was twice voted “Coach of the Year” for the Central Coast Section.

Christopher sophomore Chioma Okeke was the star of the March 23 meet, finishing first in three races. In the 100 meters, she won in a time of 12.86, ahead of Sobrato’s Shaunise Tuua in 12.94. In the 200, Okeke won in 26.67, beating out Bridget Moore of Los Gatos in 27.11. In the 400, she won in 1:01.8, ahead of Aptos’ Ava Churchill in 1:02.40.

Caitlynn Holt also had a great day. She roared to victory in the 300 hurdles in 46.01, ahead of Ella Shoemaker of Aptos in 47.13. In the 100 hurdles, Holt finished third in 15.98, behind Shoemaker in 15.47 and Sydney Domingo of Mercy in 15.49.

Emma Campbell soared 10 feet, 6 inches to win the pole vault. That mark would have tied her for third in last spring’s CCS finals. Quinlyn Abel of Leigh was second at 9 feet, 6 inches.

Christopher scored well in other field events. Jasmin Serna jumped 29 feet, 7.5 inches for seventh in the triple jump, with Ashley Bembery right behind in eighth at 29 feet, 7 inches. 

Shiloh Vallejos, a starting forward on the Cougars’ CCS finalist basketball team, threw the shot 31 feet, 11 inches to garner fourth place.

On the boys side, Amari Bluford won the long jump at 20 feet, 9 inches. Izaak Ocampo of Pajaro Valley was second at 20 feet, 6.5 inches. Bluford also scored in the 100 meters, finishing sixth in 11.59. In that race, fellow sprinter Arihant Iyer crossed the line in fourth in 11.49. Iyer was also fifth in the 200 meters in 23.43. Nathaniel Tierman was seventh in the 200 in 23.71.

The Cougars scored points in longer races too. Avery Montejano was fourth in the 400 meters in 53.90. Miles Jiminez was fifth in the 800 in 2:07.30. Vincent Monroy was seventh in the 3200 meters in 10:48.87.

In the boys 4×100 relay, the Cougars finished second in 44.58, behind Aptos’ 44.30. The Christopher crew consisted of Tierman, Iyer, Ethan Santos and Bluford.

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