It’s the biggest edition yet of the resurrected Halden Invitational track-and-field gathering.
When 30 high schools (and six junior highs and youth club squads) assemble at Davis High’s Brown Stadium this Saturday, almost 1,000 athletes will compete from 10 a.m. (sprints) through a Distance Carnival which, last year, wrapped up near 9 p.m.
“We’re excited,” says Blue Devil head coach Spencer Elliott, who brought back the old Halden Relays in 2011 after a 20-year absence.
Dewey Halden was a longtime instructor, administrator and coach at DHS and Elliott and the local track community wanted to keep his memory alive. Last year, Elliott added the A.J. “Bud” Henle 4×100 relay to honor another late Devil mentor.
Elliott said reviving the meet in the form of an invitational was the correct ode to Halden. When Henle died last year, naming the race in his honor was a natural progression …
“We wanted to do something special to remember a special person,” Elliott told The Enterprise at the time.
A nonstop event schedule features track and field categories and a series of rarely seen distance relays.
Expecting “great competition,” Elliott said there are many Blue Devils on whom local fans can focus Saturday.
Among those drawing a note from their coach were high jumper Kyle Clancy, pole vault standout Nate Harper, 800-meter dandy Blake Croft, Alex McIntyre (400), Ben Roberts and Brian Song (both strong in the 1,600), versatile distance runner Jasper Laca, Alyssa Lengtat (triple jump), high jump champ Caitlin Mazzoleni, pole vaulter Lily Wolfe, Sofia Castiglioni in the 1,600, 800 runners Han-ah Sumner and Jeanne-Marie McPherson, and Sophie Meads (in one or two of the longer races).
Elliott added that “many other of our athletes should shine. It will be a fun day.”
Twenty-two schools from the Sac-Joaquin Section will attend, including St. Francis and Jesuit. DHS’ Delta Valley Conference foes Elk Grove and Laguna Creek will be on hand, as will Woodland, Pioneer, Woodland Christian and Winters.
General admission is $5, with students $3 and seniors $2.
Concessions will include pizza, hot dogs and drinks. A rendition of the national anthem by a DHS Advanced Treble Choir member will kick off the Distance Carnival at 4:50 p.m.
During those stretch-out contests, the band Crow Canyon will perform in the infield.
A booth staffed by Fleet Feet folks will sell official meet T-shirts, according to Elliott.
Notes: Elliott, a former UC Davis sprinter, is a popular DHS teacher who is in his 10th season as the school’s track and field coach. He is assisted by Hideshi Okamoto (high jump), long and triple jump mentor Leo Sacramento, Bill Gregg (distance), Lauren Guerrieri and Ian Marrow (throws), Jonathan Defty and Karl Moran (hurdles), Rick Harper (pole vault) and deputy head coach Tim Groth. … The original Halden Relays were stopped, in large part, due to the condition of the school’s old cinder-based and crumbling track. When Brown Stadium opened, it took Elliott little time to reintroduce the meet. … Last season, the Halden Invitational put about $9,000 in DHS’ athletic coffers. … Saturday also is Picnic Day at UC Davis. Weather is expected to be sunny and in the high 70s. … At last weekend’s Stanford Invitational, several Devils made their marks in the state rankings and one, distance runner Fiona O’Keeffe, set a school record. O’Keeffe’s 4:49.04 in the mile, when converted to a 1,600 time, was good enough to break former DHS star Chelsea Reilly’s school benchmark and stands as the third best time in California this year. Also at Stanford, the Blue Devil distance medley squad — made up of O’Keeffe (mile), Meads (1,200 meters), McPherson (800) and Claire Wiebe (400) — ran an 11:56.90, which is the second best time in the state so far this spring. O’Keeffe won’t be at the home meet as she will compete in the 3,200 meters at the Arcadia Invitational on Saturday. According to Gregg, “the field is being the called the fastest ever assembled for U.S. high school girls.”
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at email@example.com or 530-320-4456.