State track and field notebook: Sierra Atkins, Gabby Peterson moving on in 1,600-meter race

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CLOVIS — She did it again. Analy senior Sierra Atkins torched the first lap of her 1,600-meter preliminary heat, doing it in 67 seconds en route to a fourth-place finish in her heat and a guaranteed spot in Saturday’s final at the CIF state track and field championships.

“I knew my first lap had to be pretty fast,” she said.

This coming from someone who drops the hammer on her first lap like nobody’s business.

“My coach was telling me I can lay back a little bit, but I was like, ‘If I’m going to get this, I need to PR.’”

She didn’t PR. She finished in 4:53.55, off of her best of 4:51.84 that she hit at the North Bay League finals. But that didn’t matter, not a bit — she advanced to the finals, seeded seventh.

Peterson advances

Seeded sixth in the 1,600 meters is Gabby Peterson.

The Healdsburg senior ran a 4:51.65 and finished third in her heat to secure a double for Saturday.

Peterson had already qualified for the finals of the 3,200 meters Saturday.

The goal with the 1,600 meters was to play it smart, she said.

“I wanted to conserve as much energy for (Saturday) as possible,” she said. “The last two laps were kind of swift, but I think being able to take it back a notch in the first two laps helped me conserve some energy.”

Peterson, who made the state meet last year as a junior, said knowing the lay of the land at the massive facility at Buchanan High and having already experienced thousands of people watching the meet unfold helped Friday.

“I think it definitely helped with the nerves to not get too scared before going on,” she said. “Honestly, I’m always a bit nervous to race, but (it helped) being able to be more in control of my nervousness.”

No Day 2 for Casa relay team

The Casa Grande boys 4x400-meter relay team raced in the final event of the night Friday but could not pull off the dramatic finish that they did at the North Coast Section Meet of Champions last week — a race that earned them their spot in Clovis.

The crew of Matthew Mason, Logan Moon, Matthew Giroux and Jalydon Love finished in 3:23.91 — just a fraction of a second off their all-time best — for 22nd among 26 teams.

McCoy heads home

Just a week after uncorking a massive personal best at the North Coast Section Meet of Champions, Casa Grande junior Lillian McCoy came up short in the shot put preliminaries.

“I didn’t throw the best I could,” she said. “I don’t know. I just don’t think it was the day for me.” McCoy’s best put of the day was 37 feet, 8.75 inches, for 21st place.

“It’s a good opportunity to make it here in the first place, so I’m proud of that.”

Remember her?

Sarah Aanenson made a return trip to the state track meet, but this time she was wearing the colors of Bear River High School in Grass Valley.

Last year, the long jumper was competing for the Maria Carrillo Pumas, but her family moved before the start of the school year — so Aanenson was in Clovis jumping for the Bruins.

And she was jumping well. She advanced to the finals Saturday with a personal-best leap of 18 feet, 2.25 inches. That jump would have tied for fourth all-time in the Redwood Empire.

Heavy load for Rodrigues

Maria Carrillo junior Zavier Rodriques started his day with a bang.

The junior tied his personal best and cleared 6 feet, 4 inches in the high jump as athlete after athlete failed to clear the opening height.

Only 21 of the 43 jumpers advanced out of the opening round.

“I went into it worried but confident because I knew that I have done it before,” he said.

He made it to the jump-off at 6 feet, 6 inches to determine who advanced to the final Saturday, but balancing the high jump with racing the 110-meter hurdles proved too much.

He missed the advancing height and then was gassed for the hurdles.

But he wasn’t complaining Friday.

“I got eighth place in my heat, which is not terrible considering I was running against the No. 2 guy in the nation,” he said.

Only a junior, there is always next year.

Laiwa-McKay hits PR

Ukiah junior shot putter Kalathan Laiwa-McKay didn’t advance to Saturday’s final, but he called throwing among the nation’s best a good day.

“I ended the season with a PR,” he said. “And this is a great learning experience.”

Laiwa-McKay finished in 14th place — just two spots from advancing — with a personal best of 54 feet, 11 inches.

“It was very intimidating,” he said. “A lot of people watching you and a lot of great throwers.”

Sani out in tough field

The distances in the girls’ discus were so far that even had El Molino junior Kassidy Sani hit her personal best, it would not have been enough to qualify for the finals Saturday.

Sani threw a 127-feet, 1-inch heave that put her in 17th place in the state.

The winner threw the discus 160 feet, 4 inches. Sani’s season best was 132 feet, 6 inches at a meet in Chico in April.

Glascock not disappointed

In his second trip to the state meet, Santa Rosa High senior Brayden Glascock said he didn’t hit the time he was aiming for in the 300-meter hurdles, but he didn’t leave disappointed by not advancing.

“I don’t think the nerves of the race got to me,” he said. “I just don’t think I was able to keep my speed … over the last two hurdles. I went a little bit slower than my PR, but I’m not upset.”

In fact, Glascock said the race itself was the reward.

“I think that is one of the coolest things about this meet, is not being the top of the top, but it’s just getting to race with these people. I think it’s not so much of a competition against everyone but more of a competition with them.”

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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