Panthers Strike Gold @ Bay Area Relays

After securing wins against Jesse Bethel, Pinole Valley and Hercules on Thursday in their second TCAL meet, the Panthers traveled to Foothill High School in Pleasanton on Saturday for the 6th annual Bay Area Relays.   The meet, featuring 19 teams from around the greater Bay Area, focuses on relays rather than the standard individual events.  Or, in the words of coach Jay Lawson, “This meet brings out our strength.  We’ve always been much better as a team than we are as a few individuals.  Our best four are usually better than other teams best four.” 

Coach Lawson’s prophecy was true, indeed, on Saturday.  The girls squad won a whopping 7 relay events… highlighted by the girls frosh-soph sprint medley team breaking the meet record by a convincing :04 seconds.  The varsity group of Sophia Alexander, Kaia Gant-Hatcher, Sofia Bailey, Jillian Aliakbar, and Amelia Tremain won the 4 x 100, 4 x 200 and Sprint Medley Relays.  Not to be outdone, the frosh-soph group of Julia Alexander, Maddie Dwyer, Anela Thomas, Heaven Mitchell, Hailey Vines, and Najah Williams mixed and matched to win the 4 x 100, 4 x 200, and both the 800m and 1600m Sprint Medley events!  This group of girls was “outstanding” according to coach Lawson. 

“I’m really happy with the positive attitude these girls are showing.  Our younger group, in particular, is having a lot of success because of their talent but also because they show up everyday ready to work.  They’re not trying to find a way to get out of practice, they’re trying to find a way to get TO practice.”

The boys squad was limited on Saturday due to injury and illness.  Still, the boys distance medley and 4 x 800 relays ran very well according to distance coach Denis Mohun.  “I was proud of how our guys ran today.  We had a few PR’s that showed the guys that their work is paying off.  I’m hoping it inspires our whole group to keep training hard.”   In particular, sophomores Zax Lieske (5:00 – 1600 leg) and Riley Hartney (2:12 – 800 leg, 3:33 – 1200 leg) as well as freshmen Ryan Painter and Jeffrey Norris were pointed out by coach Mohun.

While the relays stole the spotlight, individually the Panthers also made some noise on Saturday.  Sophomore Ka’Lib Copes, whose willingness to fill in on the Distance Medley (50.4 – 400 leg) and 4 x 800 (2:09 relay leg) got heavy praise from the coaching staff, also got a chance to long jump.  Seizing his opportunity, all Ka’Lib did was break the existing meet record by almost a foot in winning at 20’9”.  Teammate Di’Niko Bates joined him to finish third at 19’1”.   Teammate Amir Cross was also an event winner, taking the high jump at 5’6”.  Fellow high jumpers Simone Rogers and Zach Deering-Haddix also had solid days… Simone winning the high jump at 5’0” and Zach clearing 6’2” to finish 3rd

Finally, freshmen Julia Alexander and Anela Thomas continue their rise in the girls triple jump.  The finished 1st and 2nd respectively on Saturday, each breaking the old meet record of 32’3” set by Saint Mary’s school record holder Kali Hatcher when she was a freshman.  Julia jumped 33’6” while Anela finished at 32’10”.

Next up for the Panthers is their 3rd TCAL meet against SPSV on Thursday, March 28th at Saint Mary’s.  The first event begins at 3:45.