Menlo Park spotlight at the Central Coast Section track championships
Stas Della Morte, Menlo-Atherton High senior jumper
“I’m happy, but I could have done better. I wanted to get to 24 (feet). It’s something to shoot for at State.” -- on winning the long jump in 22 feet, 10 ½ inches.
Woodside High School runner Chris Waschura wanted to make history and did so, becoming the first junior in Central Coast Section championship history to sweep the middle distances races.
Waschura’s achievement seemed effortless on Friday night at Gilroy High, as he kicked to victories in both the 1,600- and 800-meter runs.
“My kick is my lethal weapon,” Waschura said. “An energy surges through my body. It’s a huge adrenaline rush.”
His performance highlighted a strong meet from San Mateo County athletes that included a boys long jump victory by Menlo-Atherton’s Stas Della Morte and runner-up finishes by Burlingame’s Allison Daley in the girls 300 hurdles, Serra’s Dalyn Pacheco in the boys high jump, and Menlo School’s Samuel Parker in the boys 800. Each advanced to the California Interscholastic Federation State Championships, June 3-4 at Buchanan High in Clovis.
Behind Waschura, and Jason Chandler’s fourth-place in the 400 (49.78 seconds), Woodside’s boys placed seventh as a team, the highest county boys or girls team score, with 27 points. Serra was eighth with 20.
“Winning both was definitely an outstanding achievement for me,” said Waschura, who captured his first CCS titles, but will compete in the State meet for the second time. “It was definitely a source of anxiety going in. But I know if I really want it, I’ll be there to do it.”
Waschura bided his time in the 1,600, pushing ahead on the final lap to win in 4:19.00. But in the 800, he was fortunate to find room on the inside when he appeared to be boxed in coming off the final turn.
“I thought I had waited too long,” he said. “I was fortunate that opening was still there. ‘The window is open. I’ve got to go before it closes.’”
He did indeed, winning in 1:56.61, just ahead of Parker, a Menlo senior, who led a pursuing pack in 1:57.27.
“I would like to think I could catch Chris,” Parker said. “I hoped he would be too tired from the 1,600. He wasn’t.”
Della Morte found that he had fresh legs after a season of competing in four events. Having made the section finals in only one event, he made it count by earning the victory by 1 ½ inches (22-10 ½) over Gilroy’s Jourdan Soares (22-9).
“I’m happy, but I could have done better,” said Della Morte, whose has a season-best mark of 23-1 ½. “I wanted to get 24. It’s something to shoot for (at) State.”
It’s been two years since Pacheco reached the State meet, but he earned a return trip with a 6-5 high jump, finishing behind Monterey junior Stephen Dorsey at 6-9.
Pacheco had qualified for the CCS finals in the triple jump as well, but struggled to eighth place with a 42-7 ½, more than two feet below his season best.
The San Bruno resident has some unfinished business at State. In 2009, he no-heighted, something he aims to change this time.
For athletes such as Sequoia’s Gabriel Ortiz, a victory wasn’t everything. Ortiz reached the finals in the 200 despite not even having a time among the top 20 in the section. He placed fourth, in 22.23.
“That really inspired me,” Ortiz said. “I saw that list and it got me fired up. I tried to make my point.”
Aragon had two distance runners, and both produced superb performances. Lauren Croshaw, a two-time Peninsula Athletic League 1,600 champ, broke a school record and shattered her personal best by four seconds, to finish fourth in 5:02.08. The time broke the record of 5:04 held by Nicole Portley.
The other half of the Dons’ distance duo was sophomore Christian Pedro, who reeled off consistent 72-73-second splits before a 66-second final lap to finish fifth in the 3,200 in 9:30.93 – a personal best by two seconds.
Pedro was last for about half the race, staying patient while others burned themselves out.
“I knew that this was a really big race and everyone would go out really fast and slow down,” Pedro said.
After missing his freshman year with knee and hip injuries, Pedro came on strong and it seems the best is yet to come.
“I’m definitely looking forward to next year,” he said.
Burlingame’s Daley entered Friday as the section leader in the girls 300 hurdles, so she said she was “a little disappointed” to walk away with a second-place finish in 45.18, trailing St. Francis’ Lauren Madigan (45.04).
“I think I could have pushed myself harder,” said Daley, who finished fourth as a junior and advanced to the State meet. “But I’m excited about the opportunity to go to State. That’s been my goal.”
Mercy-Burlingame’s Veronica Smart finished fourth in the girls shot put at 37-9 ¼. Mills’ Sabrina Mendoza was sixth at 37-5, and the sophomore took eighth in the discus (109-0).
In the boys shot put, Serra senior Ben Parodi, the West Catholic Athletic League champion, was fourth at 54-7 ¼. Sophomore teammate Jonathan Beering took eighth (48-11.5).
Mills sophomore Grant Murphy finished fifth in the boys 1,600 in 4:23.42.
In the girls 400, Menlo School freshman Maddy Price took fifth in 58.05. M-A junior Catherine Carpenter was eighth (58.84).
Woodside Priory’s Kat Gregory finished sixth in the girls 3,200 in 11:05.70. Sacred Heart Prep’s Maggie Fong was sixth in the girls 100 (12.44) and Cameron Van placed sixth in the boys high jump at 6-1.
Woodside senior Christina Dobbins finished sixth in the girls 100 hurdles (15.71) and seventh in the 300 hurdles (48.07).