After winning the Pacific Division of the Monterey Bay League last year, the girls wanted to go for the sweep by claiming the Gabilan crown, too. On Friday, they did just that. The Cougar girls blew away their competition, winning their division by 43 points ahead of North Monterey County at the MBL Finals at Gilroy High. To make the victory even sweeter, they became the first team in the school’s history to raise a banner in the Gabilan Division.
“The whole team chipped in all season long through all the dual meets,” Christopher coach Jeff Myers said. “It was much harder this year than it was last year. Each week was a little close, little more competitive and we had to rely on everybody which was great. When it came to the league championship, we were just too strong for everybody.”
The San Benitos boys were third in the Gabilan Divison while the Christopher boys were sixth. The Baler girls were fifth in the Gabilan Division and the Gilroy girls and boys finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in the Pacific Division.
The Cougars got off to running start—literally. They picked up back-to-back school record setting performances in both the girls and boys 400-meter relay.
The girls—consisting of Cydney Caradonna, Carly McPolin, Haley Romero and Vanessa Koontz—finished in a time of 50.24 for first place. Koontz’s three teammates immediately grabbed her for a group huge as she exited the track. The start of the race, however, was delayed by a false start which anchor Koontz said triggered anxiety in her. She certainly didn’t let it show as she raced passed the North Salinas anchor for the win.
“(We’re) pretty pumped,” Koontz said. “We’re all really different, we just come together and make this work.”
Koontz also finished first in the 200-meter dash and second in the 400 meters.
The boys 400 relay team of Jordan Rodriguez, Isaac McCrimon, Abraham Longoria and Tyler Parsley took third with their school record setting time of 44.43—just .02 secords behind North Salinas.
Christopher’s teams combined for 24 Top 5 finishes, 20 of which belonged to the girls and nine of which were for first place. The Cougars’ Ally Foster led all South County athletes with three first place finishes in the 100-meter hurdles (15.25), 300 hurdles (48.08) and long jump (17 feet, 6 inches). She also took second in the triple jump (35 feet, 7 1/2 inches).
“Ally always comes through on the big stage, she always has ever since she was a freshman,” Myers said. “It’s just another round for her. We’re trying to get her to the biggest stage, which is state, for all the top athletes.”
San Benito’s Marisa Villegas accounted for two of the four first place finishes the Balers had at the meet. She took first in the 1,600 ahead of teammate Amy Quinones and also in the 3,200. Villegas said she’d been focusing on finishing strong the last couple weeks as the last lap has always been her struggle. And even though she finished almost a minute ahead of the last place runner, she didn’t leave the track until she could shake hands with all her competitors.
“I’ve actually gotten really close to some of them (the other runners),” she said following the 1,600 race. “ I just like to congratulate them. We all do a great job. Everyone finishes strong and puts all their effort into it and it’s awesome to run against this girls.”
San Benito’s Quinones accounted for the Balers’ other top finishes of the meet, taking first in the 800 (2:21.64) and the high jump (5 feet).
Though Quinones finished first in the high jump in the Gabilan Divison, she wasn’t first in the league for that event. That honor belonged to Gilroy’s Nicole Holder who had a personal record of 5 feet 2 inches to be the overall champ despite the howling wind which kept knocking the bar down. The mark all but guarentees her spot in the Central Coast Section Tournament which kicks off May 24 with the semi-finals at San Jose City College.
The top three performers at the May 16 Master’s Meet at Gilroy High, regardless of division, move on to the CCS Tournament
Gilroy continued its success in the field events with a first place finish from Kairo Barrosa in the pole vault. He set a new personal record of 10 feet, 7 inches as did teammate Juan Carlos Arriaga who came in second at 8 feet, 7 inches.
The Mustangs’ Tim Van Horn, who hurt his knee during the long jump, didn’t want to over extend himself, but was still able to take second in the high jump with a 6 foot performance. . Gilroy coach Cathy Silva said she’s expecting an even better performance from Van Horn Friday.
“He’ll be ready. He’ll get his mind around it—he’s a competitior,” Silva said. “He’s starting to think he wants to jump in college, so he wants it.”
Jasmine Rodriguez-Cruz took second in the shot put (32 feet, one inch) and third in the discus (100 feet, 3 inches), while freshman standout Monica Ruelas shined in the distance events taking second place in the 3,200 and third in the 800.
Christopher also saw success in the boys high jump, claiming one of its two first place finishes in that event. Cody Oberlander took first with a 6 foot, 4 inch mark—more than a foot better than his preliminary finish. Bryan Pipkin also took first for the Cougar boys in the pole vault at 13 feet, one inch.
“Having two Gabilan event champions is great,” Myers said. “Those guys are outstanding. They’re looking at qualifying for state as well. It’s fun having those guys as well.”
San Benito’s Christopher Cook shined for the boys team—which had 16 Top 5 finishes. Cook took second in the long jump (20 feet, 10 1/2 inches), third in the high jump (6 feet, 2 inches) and fourth in the 200 meters (23.69) behind teammate Christopher Len (23.38). Len was also fourth in the 100 meters (11.38).
The Cougars closed out the meet in almost the same fashion it started it—with a relay win. Despite losing Carly McPolin to injury in the 200m dash, the Christopher 1,600 relay team still claimed first place by substituting in Bridget Brown. The team—which also featured Koontz, Watkins and Gutierrez—finished in a time of 4:09.71. Gutierrez also took first in the 400 meters, second in the high jump and fifth in the 800.
“It just shows the depth of the girls that we have and the quality of the girls that we have to battle through an injury and rely on a teammate and we still come through,” Myers said. “What Kim (Gilmour) does in shot put affects what Natalie (Gutierrez) does in two mile and what she does affects what Ally (Foster) does in the hurdles and what she does affects what Kaelin (Sylva) does in the pole vault. Everybody is doing their part.”