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NCS track and field notebook: Empire runners face off in 1,600-meter race

Just like she did at the Sonoma County League championship meet, Analy junior Sierra Atkins gave Healdsburg's Gabby Peterson a go for a lap in the 1,600-meter race. Atkins fell back after about a lap and a half but finished fifth in the 1,600 meters in a swift 4:58.03 to earn a spot on the podium.

GIRLS' 300 HURDLES

Remember when Santa Rosa's Kirsten Carter ran the fastest 300-meter hurdles in the nation for high school girls earlier this season? Well, Carter has been off and on with that event ever since and didn't try to qualify in it leading up to Saturday's Meet of Champions. But if she had, consider this: She ran a 42.68 in March.

The winner Saturday? Kali Hatcher of St. Mary's was crowned champion and will compete at the state meet after crossing the line in 43.88.

3,200 METERS

After the super swift girls' 3,200-meter race finished, the infield looked like a war zone. Runners were on all fours, some crawling. Winner Gillian Wagner lapped some in the field and finished in 10:25.95. The pace clearly took its toll.

In the boys' 3,200, Piner senior Jonny Vargas crushed his personal best of 9:34 by finishing with a 9:26. It was good enough to earn the Prospector a place on the podium.

“I felt great once I was running,” he said. Teammate, junior Nathan Hayes, also ran a PR, finishing 13th in 9:39.72.

BOYS' 800 METERS

That close. Sonoma Academy senior Kheva Mann was in one of the more unusual finishes of the day, but he didn't get the better end of it. In the boys' 800 meters, four runners, not the usual three, will go on to state because the fourth runner met the qualifying time. Mann finished one place and about half a second out of contention. He crossed the line in 1:55.10, good enough for fifth place and a spot on the podium.

POLE VAULT

Crack. The sound echoed off the concrete stands of Edwards Stadium in Berkeley. When it was clear everyone in the facility had heard the noise and wondered what it was, the race announcer determined that a pole had snapped in the girls' pole vault competition. The athlete was fine.

The announcer took to the mic: “What you just heard everyone, was $700 disappearing.”

Kerry Benefield

Columnist, The Press Democrat

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