Julia Alexander Named To Freshman All-State Team
Freshman Julia Alexander was named to the Freshman Girls All-State track & field team as a result of her sensational 9th grade campaign. Julia was the top freshman girls triple jumper in California this season after leaping 38’5¾” in the state prelims. The only 9th grade girl to make the state final in the triple jump, Julia ended her season with the #5 jump in the United States for freshman girls. You can read about the entire list of athletes here: All State Team (Freshman Girls). Way to go Julia!
Track Season Ends On The State Podium For Girls 4 x 400
The 2019 track & field season ended appropriately on Saturday night with the quartet of Sofia Bailey, Sophia Alexander, Maddie Dwyer and Kaia Gant-Hatcher finishing 5th in the girls 4 x 400 relay at the California State Championships. From Friday’s preliminaries, the Panthers advanced to the finals in 5 events – both girls relays, the girls 100, girls triple jump and boys long jump – with the 4 x 400 squad earning the top finish for the Panthers.
“Our girls relay teams have been the strength of our team all season,” said coach Jay Lawson after it was over. “We have some very talented individuals, but collectively is where we are the strongest. California is a big state with a ton of individual talent. Our philosophy has always been that together we can compete with anyone. Our relay teams consistently prove us right. I’m really proud of our team and what they were able to accomplish this season.”
The girls 4 x 100 sprint, ranked between 16th and 20th coming in, pulled the first shocker of the meet by running a seasonal best 47.70 to grab the 9th and final relay spot into the final. The team, the same as the 4 x 400 team, finished 8th in the final.
UCLA – bound senior Sophia Alexander, already the fastest in school history, finished her Panther career as a California state finalist in the 100… running 11.91 in the prelims and 11.87 in the final to finish 8th.
Sophia’s younger sister, 9th grader Julia Alexander, finished her freshman campaign on a meteoric rise… jumping a PR 38’5¾” in Friday’s prelims to make the girls triple jump final. In the final, Julia bounded out to 37’10¼” to place 12th. Coaches reminded those watching that Julia began triple jumping in late February, jumping a PR 31’6” just 12 weeks ago.
Junior Malcolm Clemons, whose nagging hamstring injury re-surfaced after Friday’s preliminary round, made the long jump final but was unable to jump in the triple jump prelims or the long jump final.
Non-qualifiers from Friday included Sofia Bailey in the 100 and 300 hurdles, Zach Deering-Haddix in the high jump, Antoine Morales in the long jump, Sophia Alexander in the 200, and Amelia Tremain in the 100 hurdles.
“This season has equaled and even exceeded all expectations we had going in,” said coach Lawson after some thought. “We broke school records, won league, Bayshore and NCS championships, cultivated some incredible young talent, and set ourselves up to have as good or even better 2020. Hopefully our kids are excited about next year as we are. 2020 should be great.”
Girls’ Dominate NCS Meet of Champions; Claim 5th Title in 6 years
The “Strength in Numbers” moniker has famously been the moniker of the 3 time NBA champion Golden State Warriors. However, long before the Warriors began their title runs, the girls track & field teams from Saint Mary’s have employed the same philosophy while winning 4 of the past 5 North Coast Section Meet of Champions titles. After Saturday, that number is now 5 championships in 6 years. With scorers in 11 different event areas, the lady Panthers completely dominated the rest of the North Coast Section while more than doubling the point total of runner-up Campolindo High School.
“Our girls scored more points than the 2nd and 3rd place teams combined,” noted distance coach Denis Mohun after the meet. “It’s been quite a few years since a team was that dominant against every other school in the North Coast Section.”
Despite the rainy, cold conditions, the Panthers fared very well in the sprints, relays, hurdles and jumps. The quartet of Kaia Gant-Hatcher, Sophia Alexander, Maddie Dwyer, and Sofia Bailey ran away from the field to win the 4 x 100. The same quartet, minus Sophia Alexander and insert Jordan Cornet, won the 4 x 400 as well. Sophia Alexander, who normally runs the 4 x 400, was rested so that she could concentrate on the 100 and 200… which she placed 2nd and 3rd in respectively. Kaia Gant-Hatcher was 5th in the 400 as was Jordan Cornet in the 800.
Junior hurdlers Sofia Bailey and Amelia Tremain showed the muscle, talent and hard-work that coach Moses Jocko’s group has been putting in when they finished 1st and 2nd in the girls 100 hurdles. Bailey also finished in the bronze medal spot in the 300m hurdles.
“I’m so proud of both of those girls,” said the thrilled Jocko afterwards. “The work they’ve put in and the challenges they’ve overcome makes this special. They deserve it. They represented our group and our work well.”
Coach Jeff Rogers’ jump crew also showed off their “Strength in Numbers” muscle. Freshman Julia Alexander may have pulled off the shocker of the meet when she spanned 38’0” in the triple jump to finish 2nd. Freshman teammate Anela Thomas also PR’d at 36’2” to finish 6th. High jumper Simone Rogers placed 5th in the high jump…. as did teammate Lydia Howard in the long jump.
On the boys side, junior Malcolm Clemons stamped his ticket to next weekend’s State Championships by finishing 2nd in the boys triple jump… as did Zach Deering-Haddix when he climbed over a lifetime best 6’4” in the boys high jump. (Note: due to inclement weather, the boys long jump was postponed and will be completed on Monday).
After the meet, coach Jay Lawson reflected on the title run the girls have been. “Our girls’ teams has been so good the past 6 -7 years. Today, we showed again what a total team effort can accomplish. We constantly preach that consistent hard-work and commitment are what win championships. We only had one individual winner on Saturday yet we totally dominated the competition. As a group of individuals we would score pretty well, but as a group were great. I think that’s a great lesson for our athletes to take away.” Next weekend’s State Championships will, once again, be at Buchanan High School in Clovis. All events (except the 3200) have a qualifying round on Friday with the finals being on Saturday.
Girls Dominate Bayshore Area Championships; Boys Finish 2nd
The Bayshore Area Track & Field Championships pit the best from the TCAL, WACC, and MVAL leagues in a qualifying meet that sends the top 7 placers in each event to next week’s North Coast Section Meet of Champions. Each event features the top qualifiers from their respective league championships in a one day championship meet, with each event scoring the top 6 placers in a 10-8-6-4-2-1 format. On Saturday at Hayward High School, the girls team dominated the approximately 35 other schools and running away with the Bayshore Championship.
“Our girls performed really well today,” said sprint coach Jay Lawson afterwards. “Coming in, we thought we had a pretty good chance to win but our girls exceeded even our highest expectations today. They were great.”
Senior Sophia Alexander, continuing her extraordinary senior campaign, flew to two individual wins and 20 points in winning both the 100 and 200. She also ran a huge 2nd leg on the winning 4 x 100 while also anchoring the victorious 4 x 400 team. Both relay teams ran NCS leading times. Teammates Sofia Bailey and Kaia Gant-Hatcher also had greats meet according to coach Lawson. Sofia won the 100 hurdles, finished 2nd in the 300 hurdles, anchored the 4 x100, and ran a PR 58.21 in the open 400 while Kaia ran a huge 57.66 PR in the 400 and ran impressive legs on both relays.
Sophomore Jordan Cornet flexed her 800 meter muscles with a 2:19 win, freshmen Maddie Dwyer and Najah Williams both posted big lifetime bests in the 400…. running 58.68 and 59.39 respectively… and junior Amelia Tremain finished 2nd in the 100 hurdles and 4th in the 300 hurdles – the latter in a personal best 47.56.
Finally, the field eventers also scored big points on Saturday. Sophomore Simone Rogers finished 2nd in the high jump at 5’2”, junior Lydia Howard came a mere ¼ inch away from winning the girls long jump before also finishing 4th in the triple jump, and a pair of freshmen – Anela Thomas and Julia Alexander – finished 2nd and 3rd in the girls triple jump. Sophomore Jasmine Farmer also qualified for MOC in the shot put with a PR 30’11”.
On the boys side, sophomore Kai’Lib Copes and junior Malcolm Clemons were Bayshore winners. Kai’Lib ran 49.19 to win the 400 while Malcolm needed only one long jump to win his specialty at 22’7¼”. “KJ” also posted his 2nd PR of the day when he finished 2nd in the 300 hurdles (39.84) while Malcolm came within ¼ of an inch of winning the triple jump.
Zach Deering-Haddix jumped 6’2” to finish 3rd in the high jump, Antoine Morales spanned 21’9” to finish 4th in the long jump, and Di’Niko Bates placed 4th in both hurdle races to pace the boys team to their 2nd place team finish.
Next up for the Panthers is the North Coast Section Meet of Champions on Friday and Saturday at Diablo Valley College in Concord. The meet acts as the open division championship for track & field in the NCS… with the top 3 overall finishers in each event qualifying for the California State Championships.
Girls, Boys Bring Home Team Titles @ TCAL Track Championships
“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!
Sophia Alexander Breaks 100m School Record; Malcolm Clemons Debuts as Panthers Roll @ Clash of the Titans Invite
Senior Sophia Alexander continued her extraordinary senior season by smashing the school’s 100 meter school record and establishing a new meet record at ‘Clash of the Titans’ invitational on Saturday. Sophia has now run 4 of the top 7 times in school history and will graduate as the fastest Panther ever. Her wind-legal 11.74 on Saturday ranks her #2 in the North Coast Section and #4 in California so far this year. Sophia also ran a PR 24.49 in the 200 on Saturday, which is #2 all-time in school history and the #2 time in the NCS.
The other big highlight from Saturday was the season debut of defending state long jump champion Malcolm Clemons. Having worked through a nagging hamstring injury since February, the ultra-talented junior opened his 2019 season by winning both the long and triple jumps at “Clash of the Titans”… immediately vaulting to the top of the North Coast Section list in the latter. Looking and feeling healthy, expect Malcolm to record some top notch performances in the coming weeks.
Other top performances on Saturday were turned in by event winners Kai’Lib Copes in the 100 meters and 300m hurdles and Simone Rogers in the high jump. Both Kai’Lib and Simone are sophomores. Runner-ups included Kaia Gant-Hatcher in the 200, Lydia Howard in the triple jump and Alyssa Watts in the discus. Both Kaia and Alyssa achieved their personal bests. Bronze medalists included Erika Marbley in the shot put, Lydia Howard in the long jump, and freshman Julia Alexander in the triple jump.
Next up for the Panthers are the TCAL championship trials and finals on Wednesday and Friday at El Cerrito High School.
Panthers Strike Gold 9 Times @ Warren/Eaton Relays; 8 Times @ Frosh/Soph Champs
The Panthers won 9 events and placed in the top 3 in almost a dozen others on Friday at the 30th annual Bob Warren/Charlie Eaton Relays hosted by Acalanes High School. Senior Antoine Morales led the charge, winning the long jump in a near personal best 22’9”. Freshman Julia Alexander was a double winner… scoring a pair of lifetime bests in the frosh/soph long and triple jumps… while a pair of sophomores – Ericka Marbley and Alyssa Watts – won the frosh/soph shot put and discus respectively.
A duo of juniors, Amelia Tremain and Lydia Howard, won their specialties – the 100m hurdles and long jump. Amelia ran 16.19 while Lydia jumped 17’6”.
Finally, a pair of sophomores – Simone Rogers and Di’Niko Bates – won the varsity high jump and 110m hurdles. Simone continued her invitational success with her 4th win of the season while Di’Niko cinched the his first invite win of the season in running 15.80.
Other outstanding performances came from the girls frosh/soph 4 x 100 (Julia Alexander, Heaven Mitchell, Hailey Vines and Soleil LeBlanc), Kai’Lib Copes (100m), Sofia Bailey (100m) and Anela Thomas (LJ, TJ and Shot Put).
Then, for an encore that resembled more like a featured act, several freshmen and sophomores competed at the annual Frosh/Soph Championships on Saturday at Dublin High School. And, like Friday, the medal haul was impressive.
Both the girls 4 x 100 and 4 x 400 teams claimed gold in runaway victories…. While sophomores Di’Niko Bates (110H, 300H), Kai’Lib Copes (200, 400, LJ), and Jordan Cornet (800) captured individual titles. Kaia Gant-Hatcher, Maddie Dwyer, Anela Thomas and Najah Williams also ran very well according to coach Jay Lawson.
Tracksters Sprint, Relay and Jump To 7 Wins @ Halden Invitational
For years, the Panthers mid-April competition has seen them travel to U.C. Davis for competition against Sac-Joaquin section schools at the Woody Wilson Invitational. This year, however, the meet at U.C. Davis was canceled… leaving the Panthers searching for a meet to fill the hole in the schedule. The answer, as it turned out, was a very competitive Halden Invitational held on the campus of Davis High School… less than a mile from the U.C. Davis campus. The meet featured many top teams and plenty of high level talent from around the Sac-Joaquin section which seemed to bring out the best in the Panthers.
“This is the first time we’ve been to this meet so we didn’t know what to expect,” said coach Jeff Rogers afterwards. “After what we’ve seen today, I’m quite sure we’ll be back next year. It was a really great day for us.”
Indeed, led by senior Sophia Alexander’s double sprint win in the 100 and 200, the Panthers claimed 7 wins on the day… numerous other top 3 finishes… and a bevy of personal and seasonal bests.
Sophia, whose emerged as one of the top sprinters in all of Northern California, recorded yet another pair of sprint wins… winning the 100 in 12.27 and the 200 in a PR 24.87. She later anchored the girls 4 x 400 team to a come-from-behind 4:01 win.. splitting 56.8 to cement a fine day for the team captain.
The frosh-soph group of Maddie Dwyer, Najah Wiliams, and Jordan Cornet also had an outstanding day. Maddie won the 200 in a PR 26.66.. with Najah placing 2nd in 27.02. Earlier, teammate Jordan Cornet won the open 400 in 60.4… with Maddie right behind in 60.55 and Najah a close 3rd in 61.08.
The hurdlers also had a solid day. Junior Sofia Bailey placed 5th in the 100 hurdles… cracking the 16 second barrier and winning her heat in 15.86. She later placed 2nd in the 300 hurdles, running 46.37 over the 7 barrier race. Fellow junior Amelia Tremain also cracked the 16 second barrier for the 1st time, running a lifetime best 15.94 in the 100 hurdles.
A pair of sophomore throwers, Erika Marbley and Alyssa Watts, also made some noise on Saturday. Erika nearly won the F/S girls shot put, falling just a few inches short whileplacing 2nd at 28’7”. Alyssa finished 5th in the shot and 6th in the discus, throwing seasonal bests in each event.
A quartet of boys enjoyed considerable success on the track on Saturday as well. Sophomore Ka’Lib Copes (KJ for short) finished 4th in the varsity boys 400… coming oh-so-close to breaking :50 seconds.. finishing in 50.10. Junior Jordan Walton and sophomore Brandon Bazile both recorded lifetime bests in their specialties. Jordan ran a PR 54.14 in the 400 before running a second 24.57 PR in the 200 a few hours later. Brandon’s heat-winning 24.54 was also a personal best for him.
Finally, the coach Rogers’ jumpers were quite good on Saturday. Junior Lydia Howard scored her first-ever invitational win, leaping 17’8” to win the girls varsity long jump. Earlier, she recorded a 35’5” bound in the triple jump to finish second. Teammate Simone Rogers, whose ranked amongst the NCS leaders in the high jump all season, placed 4th on Saturday in the girls varsity high jump… clearing a lifetime best 5’3”.
High jump teammates Zach Deering-Haddix and Amir Cross also had impressive jumps on Saturday. Zach placed 2nd in the varsity boys competition, equalling his PR by clearing 6’3”… with “very close” attempts at 6’5” according to Coach Rogers. Amir, sporting brand new high jump spikes, placed 2nd in the boys F/S division, making 5’11” on his first try. Finally, freshman jumper Julia Alexander continued her tremendous 1st year, winning the triple jump with a 2nd round effort of 34’2.5”.
Watch Girls’ 4×100 @ Arcadia Here
Girls Sprint To Big 4 x 100 Win @ Stanford
A year ago, the girls 4 x 100 team out ran even their most ardent supporters’ expectations to make the state meet final. Thus far this year, with scheduling interruptions and various other obstructions, the team had yet to put it’s best quartet forward in a meaningful race. That all changed on Saturday at Stanford, widely considered one of the two most competitive meets in Northern California in a given track season. The foursome of Kaia Gant-Hatcher, Sophia Alexander, Maddie Dwyer and Sofia Bailey ran away from the field to win convincingly in 48.50.
“We added Maddie to the relay just this week and I think it really helped,” said an enthused coach Lawson afterwards. “Sophia Alexander’s second leg, both in the prelims and the finals, blew the race open and allowed us to get a big lead. Maddie was very solid for us on the curve and Sofia Bailey (who anchored the team at the state meet last year) competes very well on the end. Add Kaia’s strong start and that team had a very good day today.”
The other relay team, the perennial power girls 4 x 400 team, also had a good outing… finishing a close second to a very good Sheldon (Sacramento) team. The team, comprised of the same quartet, ran a season best 3:56.1 which was “solid” according to coach Lawson. “I thought our girls ran pretty well in the 4 x 4 although I think a couple of our legs left a little bit on the track. Hopefully we learned a little bit about ourselves and can build some momentum going into Arcadia next weekend.”
Other notable performances at Stanford included Sophia Alexander’s 3rd place finish in the girls 100 (12.09) and Di’Niko Bates’ PR 15.67 in the 110m hurdles.
Also on Saturday, athletes traveled to Castro Valley for the Castro Valley Relays where several outstanding performances were turned in. Super sophomore Ka’Lib Copes continued his stellar season with huge wins in the open 100 (11.26) and 300 hurdles (40.94). The boys DMR team (Riley Hartney, Copes, Jeffrey Norris, Zax Lieske) won easily… as did the boys 4 x 800. Other boys winners were freshmen Amir Cross (HJ) and Sonny Buckner (TJ).
For the girls at Castro Valley, “dominance” was the only way to describe it. Lydia Howard (LJ), Simone Rogers (HJ), Anela Thomas (TJ), Najah Williams (100), Erika Narbley (SP), and the 4 x 100 and Sprint Medley teams were all winners.
Lastly, the frosh-soph girls took home the team title while the boys were runner-ups at Castro Valley.
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.
Next Generation Serve Notice With Record-Breaking Performances @ St. Francis Invitational
With the sun finally out and the student body back in school after 2 weeks of exams and enrichment activities, the track & field team looked like their old self… scoring numerous wins and breaking several records at the 36th annual St. Francis Invitational in Mountain View.
“Our younger groups, on both the boys and girls side, had an excellent meet today,” said coach Jay Lawson afterwards. “Adding in KJ (Kai’Lib Copes) to our boys relay group made a huge difference. And, even though we were without Jordan Cornet today, our frosh-soph girls teams had a great day.”
Copes, the transfer sophomore who the coaches see as “very talented”, had a huge day on Saturday. Along with winning the open 400 (51.75) and 300 hurdles (41.10), KJ also anchored the victorious 4 x 100 and Sprint Medley relays. In all, his 4 victories made him one of the top athletes of the entire meet. Fellow sophomore Di’Niko Bates also had an impressive day. Di’Niko finished 2nd to KJ in the 300 hurdles in a PR 41.76 while also running big legs on the 4 x 100 and Sprint Medley teams. Sophomore Brandon Bazile and freshman Julian Womack-Batzdorf completed the relay quartet… both running very strong legs for the Panthers.
The girls relay teams, both frosh-soph and varsity, enjoyed record-breaking runs on Saturday. The girls frosh-soph 4 x 200 team of Hailey Vines, Anela Thomas, Maddie Dwyer and Najah Williams smashed the old meet record by :08 seconds.. running 1:48.27 for the win. The same 4 x 100 team (minus Hailey, add Julia Alexander) finished 3rd in 52.20… while the Sprint Medley team of Heaven Mitchell, Hailey, Anela and Maddie Dwyer finished 2nd overall.
The varsity girls, meanwhile, also broke the 4×200 meet record. The team of Jillian Aliakbar, Sofia Bailey, Kaia Gant-Hatcher and Sophia Alexander ran 1:46.68 to break the record by about ½ second. That same quartet also won the Sprint Medley relay by almost :04 seconds… winning in 1:51.78.
Highlights from the field included: shot-putter Ericka Marbley throwing a PR 28’4½”, sophomore Simone Rogers finishing 3rd in the girls high jump (5’0”), as did senior Zach-Deering-Haddix (6’0”)… and freshman Amir Cross clearing 5’6” for his second consecutive solid performance.
Next up for the Panthers is a TCAL meet against Jesse Bethel, Pinole Valley and Hercules.
Sophia Alexander Dashes to Top of NCS Rankings in TCAL Opener
The Saint Mary’s track & field team opened their 2019 TCAL season on Thursday against league rivals Albany, El Cerrito, Kennedy and Vallejo. The meet was at El Cerrito, site of the 2019 league championship meet and featured several impressive performances by the Panthers. Grabbing the headlines were senior Sophia Alexander, junior Zach Deering-Haddix and a trio of girl jumpers.
Sophia, who continues to shine in this her final season for the Panthers, turned in the fastest 100 meter time in the North Coast Section this season… running a PR 11.97. After a summer and fall or preparation, the talented 12th grader finally eclipsed the revered 12 second barrier. She later came back to win the 200 in 24.90. Certainly a fine meet for Sophia in leading the lady Panthers to wins against all four TCAL opponents.
Junior Zach Deering-Haddix, whose preseason work and commitment has been a constant conversation among the coaching staff, began his league season with a PR 6’3” win in the high jump. According to coach Jeff Rogers, he’s beginning to emerge as one of the top jumpers in the NCS. He also recorded his second consecutive meet over 20’ in the long jump and won the triple jump to garner the Panthers much needed points in a very tight boys competition with Vallejo and Albany.
A trio of jumpers, freshman Anela Thomas, sophomore Simone Rogers, and junior Lydia Howard combined to win the girls triple, high and long jumps respectively. Anela, fresh off the varsity basketball court and brand new to track, is showing “a lot of promise” according to coach Jay Lawson. “Anela’s attitude and desire to want to be good in track has been a real bright spot for us. We hope that she serves as an example to all the club and AAU athletes that there is room in their life to excel at more than just one sport.” Her 33’4” jump is among the top jumps for a freshman in the entire North Coast Section so far this year.
Sophomore Simone Rogers, still undefeated in the high jump this year, won her 3rd consecutive meet… clearing 5’0” to win her competition by 8 inches. Her season best of 5’2” is tops in the North Coast Section so far this year.
Junior Lydia Howard, who also spent the winter playing basketball, is emerging as one of the top all-around jumpers is the area. She won the long jump on Thursday, has one of the best jumps in the NCS so far this year, and is a fine high and triple jumper as well. Her contributions going forward this year will be key to the Panthers quest to once again repeat as TCAL and NCS champions.
Other notable performances on Thursday were turned in by Olivia Lawson who won the girls 1600, Amelia Tremain (100m hurdles), Sofia Bailey (300 hurdles), Jordan Cornet (800), Di’Niko Bates (300 hurdles) and sophomore Ericka Marbley (shot put)… whose win in the shot put was “awesome” according to Coach Heuer.
Next up for the Panthers is the St. Francis Invitational on Saturday at St. Francis High School in Mountain View.
Panthers Soak Up Rain, Times and T-Shirts @ Dan Gabor Invitational
After a long week of final exams and on the eve of Enrichment Week, the Panthers sent a handful of athletes to compete at the Dan Gabor Invitational at Amador Valley High School in Pleasanton. While heavy rains and cold conditions presented a challenge, many of the athletes emerged with season bests, event wins, and prize-winning t-shirts.
Sophomore Simone Rogers is now 2 for 2 in invitational wins after posting the lone Panther win on Saturday. Jumping in a driving rain storm, she managed to climb over 5’0” and had narrow misses at a personal best tying 5’2”.
Senior Sophia Alexander, who according to coach Lawson “has been the most consistently hard-working athlete on the team thus far”, ran another solid 100 meter race, finishing 2nd in 12.41. “Sophia’s hard-work is paying off. I’m really proud of her dedication to herself and to the team as a leader. She’s been a real bright spot so far,” said Lawson after the meet.
Junior Jillian Aliakbar, and freshmen Julia Alexander, Hailey Vines and Heaven Mitchell all ran very good 100 meter dashes as well. Jillian won her heat (#27) in 13.87, as did Julia (heat #22) in 13.98 and Hailey (heat 25) in 14.26.
The distance squad was also present on Saturday, led by sophomore Olivia Lawson. Despite heavy rains, Olivia finished 2nd in her 1600 meter heat (#4) in just a shade over 6:00. Teammate Wiona Tan ran 4th in the heat before, crossing the washed out finish line in 6:25. Freshmen Jeffrey Norris (5:16 – 1600) and Maddie Dwyer (2:38 – 800) also competed for the Panthers on Saturday.
The Panthers will not be back in action until Thursday, March 14th in their TCAL opener. The meet will be at Saint Mary’s at begins at 3:30. The full schedule is on the team website at
Panthers Open With Sprint, Hurdle and Jump Wins @ Skyline Invitational
After weeks upon weeks of training, the Panthers track & field team finally got the opportunity to compete…. traveling to Skyline High School for the 13th annual Skyline Invitational. Led by senior Sophia Alexander’s sprint victory double, the Panthers captured 6 wins on the day and confirmed what the coaches had suspected, that the team is once again talented across many events and ready to start the season.
Among the talented athletes that competed at Skyline, Sophia Alexander shined as bright as any. She began her day by winning the 100 meters in 12.28… more that .2 tenths of a second faster than the runner-up. She later came back to dominate the 200 meter dash, winning that race by more than .5 of a second. Sophia’s times will certainly rank her among the top dashers in the North Coast Section after week 1.
Senior Antoine Morales also cemented himself as one of the top long jumpers in the section, winning the seeded long jump section in a personal best 22’3¾”. Antoine, who finished less than 2” from a state meet birth at last year’s NCS Championships has had a very good preseason according to
jumps coach Jeff Rogers and so “it is no surprise that he won. I expect Antoine to be very competitive all season and most certainly be there at the end when it counts.” Fellow jumper, junior Zach Deering-Haddix also had a nice meet, finishing 3rd in the high jump (6’0”) and 3rd in the seeded long jump with a lifetime best 21’0”.
Junior Sofia Bailey, one of the top returners in the NCS in the girls 300 hurdles, won the event easily in 47.71. She also won her 400 heat very convincingly and showed that she is quite ready to challenge for top honors in the long hurdle event.
Two sophomores, 800 meter runner Jordan Cornet and high jumper Simone Rogers also scored big victories for the Panthers. Jordan, running her first 800 as a Saint Mary’s Panther, torched a very good 800 field to win in 2:18.76. That time, like Sophia and Antoine’s marks, will put her at or near the top of the early season NCS rankings. Simone, who as a freshman won this same meet a year ago, jumped 5’2” to win by an impressive 4”. She too will be among the top ranked high jumpers after the inaugural week of NCS competition.
Elsewhere on the track and in the field, fine performances were turned in by jumper Lydia Howard (PR 17’4” in the long jump, 2nd overall), hurdler Di’Niko Bates (42.59 – 300 hurdles), freshman Maddie Dwyer in the open 400, fellow freshman Anela Thomas in the 100 and triple jump, sophomores Riley Hartney and Olivia Lawson in the 1600, Amelia Tremain in the 100 hurdles, freshmen Sonny Buckner and Amir Cross in the long and high jump, Jeffrey Norris in the 1600 and Najah Williiams in the 100 and 200.
“Overall, it was good to finally get a meet in,” said sprint coach Jay Lawson. “I think we were all anxious to see where the athletes were after our pre-season training. Now, I’d say we’re probably farther along that we initially thought. Our older, more experienced athletes were not surprising. We knew what they could do. But, seeing our younger athletes get a chance to get out there and show a little of what they can do was exciting. Hopefully everyone is ready to get back to work on Monday and continue to get better.”
The Panthers next meet will next Saturday, March 2nd at Amador Valley High School in Pleasanton for the Dan Gabor Invitational.
Coaches Preview 2019 Track & Field Season
For the past 25 years, the Saint Mary’s Panthers Track & Field team has enjoyed as much success as any team in Northern California. The boys teams have won every league championship since 1987; the girls teams have won all but one league banner since girls became part of the student body; both teams have won multiple North Coast Section open division championships; and both teams have featured some of the finest individual talent in the history of the NCS. Continuing this tradition, the 2018 season was nothing short of spectacular. Individual state champions, multiple section (NCS) champions, dozens of league champions, both league and section team championship banners, and individual school records were all part of the 2018 season. So, what can the 2019 team possibly do for an encore? In previewing the upcoming season, sprint coach Jay Lawson, jumps coach Jeff Rogers, distance coach Denis Mohun, and throws coach Jonathan Heuer talked about the possibilities for the 2019 teams.
Jay Lawson – Sprints/Hurdles/Relays
What is going to be the biggest difference between the 2018 and 2019 season?
Well, we enjoyed a lot of success in 2018. We had Kali Hatcher win 4 events at our North Coast Section Meet of Champions, Malcolm Clemons win a state title in the long jump, our girls 4 x 400 relay team make the state finals, and our girls team win the Open Division title at the Meet of Champions. So, topping that maybe be asking too much. Still, I think this year’s group, especially on the girls’ side, has a chance to have a lot of success. Although we lost big scorers like Kali and Janelle Ingram, some of our younger people have gotten a lot better. Also, I think some of the older kids on our team have gotten a taste of success and hopefully they’ve enjoyed it enough that they want a lot more of it.
So, who are some of the athletes to keep an eye on this year?
Besides Malcolm, who I’ll let coach Rogers talk about, I’d say on the girls side I would start with the 4 x 400 group who, without Kali Hatcher, made the state finals last year. Sophia Alexander, Sofia Bailey, Kaia Gant-Hatcher, and Jordan Cornet are all very talented athletes who should shine this year. Sophia should be our top 100 and 200 meter sprinter this year. She’s one of the top returning girls in the NCS and figures to be in contention for a state meet spot in one or both of those individual events. Sofia Bailey returns as
one of the top 300 meter hurdlers in the section this year. She finished 5th at MOC last year and I think is ready for a break out year. Kaia is ultra-talented and could find a lot of success at 100, 200 or 400 meters depending on where we want to focus her time and energy. Jordan is also very talented and is a very tough, tenacious competitor. Look for her to run some very strong 400’s and 800’s this year.
On the boys’ side, I would look for sophomore D’Niko Bates to have a breakout year, especially in the 110 meter hurdles. He’s been hurdling for a few years so his technique is pretty far along. Add that to the way he’s been working in the off season and I’d be surprised if he wasn’t lining up in May with a chance to go to state. We also have a sophomore transfer, Kai’Lib Copes, who is very talented and who could make some noise in the open 400. Lastly, I’ll be interested to see what Malcolm can accomplish in the sprints. He’s obviously one of the top jumpers in California and in the U.S., but he might be able to compete for a league or section medal in one of the sprints. We’ll wait and see.
So, it’s mid-February and you’ve had a couple of weeks to see the team and some of the new faces. Any pre-season surprises?
Yes, a few very pleasant surprises. Again, on the girls side I like the way Amelia Tremain has looked thus far. I expect she’ll continue to have success in the 100m hurdles. We also have a lot of new faces. Two freshmen, Maddie Dwyer and Najah Williams, have impressed the coaching staff. Maddie seems to be a long sprinter/800 meter runner while Najah
seems to be more of a 100-200-400 girl. Another pair of freshmen, Julia Alexander and Hailey Vines, also have looked pretty good thus far. Still, it is early and my experience tells me that you never know what talent might be just around the corner or right under your nose. I’m excited by the turn-out and the potential our girls have.
Finally, are there any meets in particular that are notable or Saint Mary’s track supporters should make sure to calendar?
Like always, we try and run a program that serves the interest of all of our athletes. Our home TCAL meets are ones that require a lot of work from our coaching staff but are great because everyone gets to compete and we all get to watch and cheer for each other. In late March and early April we have the Stanford and Arcadia Invitationals. Both of those meets feature most of the best athletes from around California and those meets are where are high end athletes get to test themselves. We also have a couple of distance carnivals on the schedule for our distance runners to try and compete against runners from the same talent pool as themselves. Those meets are always fun. But, of course, the championship season in May is what really gets me and the coaching staff excited. Invitationals are preparation… league, section and state meets are where banners are won, champions are crowned and memories are cemented.
Jeff Rogers – Jumps
Malcolm Clemons is the defending state champion and was a finalist for the Gatorade Track Athlete of the Year in California in 2018. He’s obviously the strength of your group. So, where can he go from there? What are your expectations of him?
There is no doubt that Malcolm is one of the most talented track athletes we’ve ever had. His accomplishments thus far speak for themselves but, I think, there’s much more to come. As he continues to grow and mature as an athlete, as his strength levels rise, as his speed and power development increase, and as he continues to perfect his technique… his jumps and distances will most certainly improve. His devotion to the sport is awesome. He’s constantly watching and studying film and wanting to get better. Both of his jumps, but especially the triple jump, will improve dramatically because of this. He, his family, his teammates, and our coaching staff are all very excited to see how far he can go.
The jumping events have enjoyed a lot of success over the years. Besides Malcolm, are there any others to watch for?
Yes. Senior Antoine Morales was only an inch away from making it to state last year in the long jump. He seems much more dedicated this year and is working hard and being consistent. I look for that work to pay off for him. Junior Zach Deering-Haddix is in the same boat. He was the top sophomore
at MOC last year in the high jump and he has also been working hard on the track and in the weight room. I can see him having a solid season as well.
For the girls, losing Kali and her group will sting. Still, we have a talented pair of jumpers fresh off the basketball court who could develop into solid contributors for us. Sophomore Simone Rogers had a very good freshman high jump season last year and has the potential to get a medal at MOC this year. Lydia Howard had an up and down 2018 season but I expect she’ll rebound and be very good for us in all three jumps this year.
Coach Lawson talked about a few younger athletes whose talent he has been pleasantly surprised by. Is there anybody on the jumps side that you’re feeling that way about?
Absolutely. The freshman and JV basketball seasons are over and we have a good group of those kids out. All of them have shown good aptitude so far, and a couple of them.. Amir Cross and Sonny Buckner.. have seemed to pick up some of the techniques right away. Still, like Coach Lawson, I’m giving it awhile. Sometimes people develop, show up or are motivated in ways that you would have ever imagined.
Denis Mohun – Distances
How is your distance group looking thus far?
As a group, I’m very happy with their turnout and their commitment so far. On the boy’s side, our two sophomore leaders, Riley Hartney and Zax Lieske, have been putting in miles and have had a pretty good off season. They’re self-motivated and don’t have to be told to run. It has benefitted them and also the rest of the group. I can see both of those guys going under 5:00 this year.
The girls group is the same group that won the league championship in cross country this past fall and they too should have a solid season. A few of them play soccer in the winter so their track season will be late-starting. However, sophomore Olivia Lawson has been training steadily and will have a good season as a result. Wiona Tan, Nan Wemmer and Eliza Pease should also go pretty well this year.
Are there any surprises out there?
I’m curious to see how freshman Jeffrey Norris and Maddie Dwyer will do this year. Both had very good freshmen cross country seasons and both are tough competitors. Jeffrey looks like he’ll be a 1600/800 runner while Maddie looks like she’s more 800/400. Even though they may specialize in different events, I think they both have the talent to contribute right away. Someone else I’d keep an eye on is Jordan Cornet in the 800. She ran the 400 instead of the 800 last year and had very good success. I think the 800 is probably her better event though and it wouldn’t surprise me if the rest of the section found that out as well this year.
Jonathan Heuer – Throws
This will be your 3rd year coaching the throwers. What do you expect from your group this year?
I expect them to understand the program I’m trying to implement a little bit better. Hopefully their technique, their understanding of our strength and ballistic training, and their understanding of the weight room has improved and that will allow them to make bigger gains in the ring.
Who should we look for to lead this 2019 throws group?
Seniors Kamerron Clyde and Josiah Jacobs… along with junior James Woo and Jordan Mure will start as our top guys. They’ve all thrown for me before and they’re all familiar with how we do things. Kamerron and James should lead our discus corp while Jordan and James will begin as our top shot putters.
For the girls, Alyssa Watts is our top returner. She had a really good freshman season and should go over 30’ in the shot this year. Hopefully she’ll challenge the 100’ barrier in the discus as well. Sophomore Erika Marbley will add some depth to our throws as well.