Empire notebook: Santa Rosa High grad, UC Davis runner Kirsten Carter named Freshman of the Year

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Santa Rosa High grad and UC Davis freshman Kirsten Carter was named Big West Freshman of the Year and has earned a spot in the NCAA West Prelims in both the 200-meter and 400-meter races.

Carter is currently the second-fastest Aggie ever in both events. The meet will be held Thursday through Saturday at Sacramento State.

Track and field honors add up for Bear Cubs

Santa Rosa Junior College track and field had two athletes earn All-American honors and three earn top-10 results at the California Community College Athletic Association state championships in San Mateo Friday and Saturday.

Assata Polk, a freshman who prepped at Maria Carrillo, finished fourth in the 400 meters (57.77) to earn All-American honors. Alyssa Stewart, a sophomore who prepped at Windsor High, finished eighth in the long jump (17 feet, 8 inches) and 11th in the javelin (94 feet, 5 inches).

On the men’s side, Waisea Jikoiono, a freshman out of Montgomery High, won the high jump to become an All-American and only the ninth individual state track and field champion in school history.

In discus, Justen Santa, a freshman out of Petaluma High, finished sixth with a throw of 144 feet, 8 inches. Tom E, a sophomore out of Maria Carrillo, finished tied for eighth in the pole vault after clearing 14 feet, 7.25 inches.

Ramirez misses state meet by slimmest of margins

In the North Coast Section Meet of Champions at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill on Friday, Maria Carrillo senior Severin Ramirez lost his first shot at making the 2019 CIF state track and field championships when his teammate, Tyler Van Arden, got hurt during the preliminary running of the 4x400-meter relay.

His second shot slipped away by the slimmest of margins at the finals on Saturday when he finished fourth, one spot out of the running for a berth to the state meet, in the 400-meter race. His time was 49.55. The third-place runner posted a 48.95. Ramirez’s best time of the season was 49 seconds flat at the Arcadia meet in April.

“Mentally and physically, I was trying my hardest. It just wasn’t enough,” he said. “It’s just disappointing. Everything happens for a reason.”

El Mo gymnast Wong takes 11th all-around

El Molino junior Christine Wong finished third and 11th in the vault and all-around at the 2019 Women’s Junior Olympic Level 9 Western Championships in Spokane, Washington.

Wong, the only Sonoma County gymnast to qualify, made it to the meet by placing first in the vault and third all-around in her age group at the regional championships in Las Vegas in April.

Monty’s Ziemer to join sister at Texas A&M

Class of 2016 Montgomery High grad Taylor Ziemer will join forces with her sister, Tera, a 2018 Montgomery grad, on the Texas A&M University women’s soccer team in the fall.

The elder Ziemer, a two-time Gatorade Player of the Year in California, spent two seasons at the University of Virginia, scoring 12 goals and recording eight assists for the Cavaliers before withdrawing from the team and school.

She spent a season playing for ADO Den Haag in Holland. She has two years of college eligibility remaining.

The Aggies went 17-5-1 overall and 6-3-1 in the Southeastern Conference before being ousted by the University of Tennessee in the third round of the NCAA tournament.

McCormick to swim for Bulldogs of Redlands

Santa Rosa Junior College sophomore Jack McCormick has signed on to continue his swimming career at the University of Redlands. McCormick, who prepped at Piner, earned All-American honors in the pool and was an Academic All-American at SRJC.

You can reach staff columnist Kerry Benefield at 707-526-8671 or, on Twitter @benefield and on Instagram at kerry.benefield. Podcasting on iTunes and SoundCloud, “Overtime with Kerry Benefield.”

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