So this is where things start heating up.
The Meet of Champions, the North Coast Section — whatever you want to call it — it’s the track meet where things happen.
Legs go faster, throws go farther, jumps go higher — season bests are set. And for the elite few, tickets are punched for a weekend in Clovis.
“This meet is like one of the premier meets in the whole nation in terms of quality,” said Greg Fogg, track coach at Maria Carrillo.
While some earlier marquee events like the Stanford Invitational and the Arcadia Invitational in Los Angeles produced some personal bests and strong results, those were early season meets. Athletes who converge on Cal’s Edwards Stadium Friday are likely fitter than they were just weeks ago and primed for the postseason, Fogg said.
“People have been taking care of themselves, are hopefully healthy. They all should just be positioned to do amazing things,” he said.
“This is a big venue where people really pay attention to these marks,” he said. “It’s a lot of competition.”
You can say that again.
“It’s a tougher meet than a lot of state meets,” said Santa Rosa coach Doug Courtemarche. “A lot of state champions come out of this meet.”
And some of the performances that will be put up over the next two days could be the fastest, farthest, highest in the country for high schoolers.
Only the top finishers in Friday’s preliminaries make the finals Saturday. From there, only the top three move on to the CIF State Track and Field Championship at Buchanan Track and Field at Veteran’s Memorial Stadium in Clovis next weekend.
The bar is high. But there are some area athletes who could have the goods to make the cut.
“There are really talented kids and any one of them could have the day that could take them to the state meet,” Courtemarche said.
Sonoma Academy sophomore Rylee Bowen is a favorite to return to Clovis — an event she made as a freshman. Bowen, who has posted national-best times this year, is slated to run the 1,600- and 3,200-meters at MOC. She will be joined in the longer race by Santa Rosa senior Delaney White, the four-time North Bay League cross country champion.
“Delaney is sitting in good shape,” said Santa Rosa distance coach Carrie Joseph. “I think she might have something to say on Saturday.”
Santa Rosa junior Luca Mazzanti has had a heckuva season in the 1,600 meters thus far. Courtemarche and others say he may not be done yet.
“His season has been unbelievable,” Courtemarche said. “We call him the beast out there because he just nails every workout. He’s getting better as the season progresses and he’s never been better than he is right now. It puts him in the hunt for the state meet.”
“He reminds me of (Casa Grande grad) Nick Rauch — really tough,” Fogg said.
Also in the hunt from Santa Rosa? Sophomore Kirsten Carter.
Last year’s sprint sensation who earned a trip to Clovis is focusing on the 200 meters this postseason.
In the boys’ 3,200 meters, El Molino’s junior Brian Schulz is a strong contender to punch a ticket to the state meet, in part because he runs well around tough competition.