“Every track season has its own story… has different athletes who fulfill different roles on the team…plays out differently…has different highs and lows…and never ends up exactly the way you thought going into the season.” These were coach Jay Lawson’s words, after 32 years at the helm of the Saint Mary’s track & field program.
However, contrary to coach Lawson’s insights, one thing that has remained a constant in all of his 32 years coaching the boys and almost everyone of his 23 years coaching the girls: a league championship. On Friday at El Cerrito High School, the 2019 boys and girls teams, once again, delivered that constant: a league championship.
The girls, who talent, depth and competitiveness were on full display on Friday, crushed the rest of the league schools in amassing an overwhelming team victory. Led by the mega-talented senior sprinter Sophia Alexander and a cast of younger upstarts, the girls team point total exceeded the point total of all the other schools combined.
Sophia Alexander won the 100 and 200, sophomore Jordan Cornet won the 800 and 1600, junior Sofia Bailey won both the 100 and 300 hurdles, both the 4 x 100 and 4 x 400 teams won in dominant fashion, and the Panthers won every field event contested. Simone Rogers won the high jump (5’2”, Lydia Howard won the long jump (17’5”), freshman Julia Alexander won the triple jump (36’8½”), Alyssa Watts won the discus (91’9”), and Jasmine Farmer won the shot put (30’1½”). Other top performances/personal bests went to Anela Thomas in the 100 (13.07), Kaia Gant-Hatcher (58.98), Maddie Dwyer (60.14), and Najah Williams (60.91) in the 400, Nan Wemmer (5:48) and Olivia Lawson (5:55) in the 1600, Erika Marbley (29’7½”) in the Shot Put, Kendall Timmons (4’8”) in the high jump, Julia Alexander (16’8”) and Maya Holmes (15’1½”) in the long jump, and Lydia Howard (36’4½” and Simone Rogers (31’1”) in the triple jump.
For the boys, the meet was a tightly contested battle between the Panthers and the host Gauchos from El Cerrito. While El Cerrito was piling up sprint and distance points, the Panthers were countering with jumps and hurdle points. After several hours of competition, the championship banner would come down to track’s most exciting event: the 4 x 400 relay. After the efforts of Brandon Bazile, Di’Niko Bates and Jordan Walton, the Panthers were still 8-10 meters behind the venerable Gauchos. However, sophomore Kai’Lib Copes, the Panthers swiftest and most valuable sprinter this season (and the earlier winner of the open 400) would close the meet with the performance of the day. Running a tactical, smart yet aggressive anchor leg, Kai’Lib entered the home stretch still a few strides behind but determined to steal the top prize. With arms churning and the crowd cheering, Kai’Lib inched into the lead with a few meters to go and then held off the stunned Gaucho runner to secure both the event win and the overall team championship. The final team score was the Panthers 114, Gauchos 108.
Other top performances on the boys side included event winners Antoine Morales (22’4”) in the long jump, Malcolm Clemons (41’9”) in the triple jump, Zach Deering-Haddix (6’2”) in the high jump, and Kai’Lib Copes in the 400 (49.46) and 300 hurdles (41.14). Advancers to next week’s Bayshore Area Championships include Amir Cross in the high jump, Di’Niko Bates in both hurdles, Jordan Walton in the 400, Riley Hartney in the 1600 and 3200, Zax Lieske in the 3200, Brandon Bazile in the 300 hurdles, Cameron Clyde in the discus, Malcolm Clemons in the long jump, and Sonny Buckner in the triple jump.
Congratulations to both the boys and girls for their 2019 TCAL Championship wins!