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State track and field notebook: Analy's Sierra Atkins starts off in a flash

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CLOVIS — After the Sonoma County League track and field finals last year, I wrote myself a note and stuck it as a reminder to myself this spring. It had two words on it: Sierra Atkins.

When I saw her drop the hammer on her friendly rival Gabby Peterson of Healdsburg last spring as she tried to push the pace before eventually being overcome by Peterson’s gifts, I made a note to find out who the Analy High School senior is.

Turns out, she’s the ninth-fastest 1,600-meter runner in the state of California.

At the CIF state track and field championship final in the 1,600 meters — and racing her familiar rival in Peterson — Atkins brought it out fast like she always does. She figured she had to run a personal best to make a bid for a top-six podium spot. And that meant taking the first lap in a lung-burning pace and leading a crew of ultra-talented runners by as much as 10 meters after the first lap.

But the pace couldn’t hold. She didn’t hit her personal best and fell to ninth out of 12 runners in the final. She finished in 4:58.28, off her personal best of 4:51.84 that she ran at the North Bay League finals.

“Today was not what I was hoping for as far as my time,” she said. “But I got ninth in the state. That’s definitely a statement. I can be happy about that.”

Atkins took the first lap out in 69 seconds, a slower, more considerate pace than she did in Friday’s preliminary, when she took off and went around in 67 seconds. And it was Peterson who took over the lead after that first lap. And it was in the third lap that Atkins felt the pack passing her.

“I felt a lot of them, like the first several pass me all at once, so that was a bit discouraging,” she said. “It was like, ‘Oh I’m in fourth, oh fifth, sixth, seventh.’ I just had to keep going; I knew the race might unfold like that.

“I was really blessed and honored to be able to run against a bunch of really fast girls,” she said. “I’d like to say they pushed me, but I didn’t really run my fastest. But it was a humbling experience.”

Atkins, who is going to run for the UC Davis Aggies next year, said she was trying to remain philosophical despite being disappointed.

“I always have to remind myself, it’s not always about the end,” she said. “I can think back right now to some of my best races, a lot of my great track highlights, and I’ve had some really good races that I’m proud of. The final result doesn’t always reflect all of them, but I’m still happy about today.”

Trask suffers ‘bad day’

After a historic effort at the state preliminaries Friday, where he beat a 38-year-old Redwood Empire record in discus, Middletown senior Bryson Trask could not repeat the magic Saturday in the finals. He came into the finals seeded third, but didn’t make the nine-athlete cut and finished in 11th place. His best throw Saturday, 155 feet, 9 inches, was far short of his new record of 181 feet, 10 inches that he threw in the prelims. The 2019 discus champ, Gino Cruz of Newbury Park, threw it 191 feet, 11 inches. Second place threw it 179 feet, 11 inches.

Just moments after leaving the discus competition, Trask had to make his way to the shot put area. He finished 11th out of 12 athletes. After both events, a disappointed Trask said little more than it was “a bad day.”

Courtemarche’s final run

When Santa Rosa High senior Brayden Glascock crossed the finish line in the 300-meter hurdles Friday night, it was the end of his high school track career (but he’s going on to compete for Grand Canyon University). It also marked the final athlete to compete under the direction of longtime Panthers coach Doug Courtemarche. Courtemarche, who started at Santa Rosa High in 1992, announced his retirement from both track and cross country coaching at the end of this school year.

Glascock’s run in the state prelims marked that end. I asked Glascock about it and he said he felt it distinctly this past week — being the only Panther going to state, working with Courtemarche and being the final athlete under his direction.

Hundreds make it work for thousands

All those people in blue polos and red polos, safety vests and matching T-shirts? About 400 officials were on and around the grounds at Buchanan High in Clovis over the weekend to make the massive event come off, according to officials. More than 8,000 spectators came to Friday’s preliminaries.

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