Benefield: A day of standout showings in Sonoma County League track and field
It was a day of standout performances at the Sonoma County League track and field championships Saturday at Piner High — so much so that it is hard to decide where to start.
The El Molino boys ran away with the team title, breaking SCL meet records in the process. The Lions pulled down 188 points to earn their second consecutive pennant. Piner finished second with 84, Petaluma third with 76.5, Analy fourth with 68, Healdsburg fifth with 52 and Sonoma Valley sixth with 24.5.
“It’s a very talented group of kids,” coach Ryan Hopkins said of his squad. “It just shows the depth that our team has.”
The Lions perhaps have no one more talented than senior Jack Fricker. For the second time in as many years, Fricker was golden in everything he touched at the SCL meet. He won the long jump, triple jump, 300- and 110-meter hurdles. Fricker finished the 300-meter hurdles in 41.21, the 110-meter hurdles in 15.59, went 43 feet, one inch in the triple jump and leaped 21 feet, five inches in the long jump.
“He’s very talented, a very gifted kid,” Hopkins said. “He can do anything he puts his mind to.”
The El Molino girls, coming in off of an undefeated dual-meet season, were forced to share the SCL title with Petaluma after the Trojans came up big Saturday and won the meet with 148 points to the Lions’ 124 to force a co-championship. Analy finished with 77, Healdsburg with 74, Sonoma Valley with 39, Piner with 21 and Elsie Allen with three.
Trojan backers knew they were a different team Saturday than when they met earlier in the season.
“We lost to them by one point” in the dual meet, Petaluma coach Doug Johnson said.
But in that meet, on April 26, the Trojans were missing two key athletes. So the win Saturday? “I expected it,” Johnson said.
“We had a strong feeling that we were going to come close,” said Petaluma sophomore Courtney Bell.
Bell finished second in the 100-meter dash in 13.26, behind Healdsburg senior Natasha Marsden’s 13.17, and took fourth in the 200-meter dash in 27.93 behind Petaluma freshman Cali Sullivan in third, Marsden in second and Analy senior Gabrielle Dahlen’s winning time of 27.48 to bring in crucial points for the Trojans.
“It was kind of expected,” El Molino senior Hailey Styskal said of losing out on the sole title. “We knew it was definitely a possibility. But I’m proud of us regardless. We won every single league meet, so I’m just focusing on the positive.”
But no girl pulled in more points, or made it look as effortless, as Healdsburg junior Gabby Peterson.
Peterson raced and won the 800 meters (2:20), the 1,600 meters (4:57) and the 3,200 (11:56). For fun, she anchored the 4-by-400 relay that finished fourth behind El Molino, Petaluma and winner Analy.
“I really wanted to push for a good 800 time and I wanted to be under five for the (1,600),” she said.
Peterson’s best of 2:18 in the 800 puts her at sixth best in the North Coast Section this season, while she is ranked second in both the 1,600 meters (4:51) and 3,200 meters (10:34), just behind Redwood High senior Gillian Wagner in both events.