When asked who they thought stood out in Friday night’s finals of the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters track and field meet in Elk Grove, Davis High head coach Spencer Elliott and distance mentor Bill Gregg couldn’t narrow it down to just a few names.
Who could blame them?
On a night when the Blue Devils sent nine athletes to the CIF state meet, set for next weekend in Clovis, seemingly every DHS athlete had a performance worth talking about.
There was Paul Mohr, who, in the 800-meter dash, had the patience to let a runner from Nevada Union pass him midway through the final lap. When the runner began to burn out down the stretch, Mohr nonchalantly shot back in front to cross in first place. His time of 1:53.98 set a new school record.
There was Nick Denton, who took first in the shot put with a throw of 56 feet, 9.5 inches.
And there were Han-ah Sumner and Ellie Eaton, who placed second in the 800 and 200 meters, respectively. Sumner hit the afterburners down the stretch to finish with a personal-best time of 2:15.16 and Eaton was her usual speedy self — and more — as she crossed the line in a personal-record 55.54 seconds.
“Overall, it was a good meet,” Elliott said. “We had some really incredible accomplishments and some really great performances and then we also had a couple of disappointing ones as well, so (it was) a full range of emotions.
“Anyone who qualifies for state stands out to me and is worth mentioning.”
Freshman Fiona O’Keeffe outlasted senior Karlie Garcia from Oakmont, pulling ahead at the end of the 3,200 to secure a third-place finish (10:40.17).
Two of O’Keeffe’s Blue Devil cross country teammates, Sophie Meads and Jack Scranton, both qualified in the 1,600. Meads was consistently strong throughout her race to finish third (5:02.86). Scranton appeared to overexert himself taking the lead in the final lap before struggling down the straightaway and getting passed by three runners. Still, his time of 4:15.94 was good enough to earn him an at-large berth to the state meet.
Davis sophomore Blake Croft crossed the line a second after Mohr to claim third in the 800.
“It was probably the best Masters meet we’ve ever had,” Gregg said. “Finishing in the top three is a real big challenge and Sophie’s put it together three weeks in a row now and she was super-pleased. Jack’s been up and down all season and he put it together as well. Going one-three in the 800 for the boys is just amazing.
“Fiona’s race was just fabulous. We’ve had to bring her on a little bit at a time because she’s coming back from injury. She ran 10:40 (Friday) and that was another 15-second improvement.”
Kyle Clancy, a sophomore, placed seventh in the long jump, but his mark of 22 feet. 0.5 inches met the requirement for a CIF at-large bid.
Many of the Blue Devils who didn’t qualify also had impressive outings. Jasper Laca set a new personal record in the 3,200 (9:30.70) en route to an eighth-place finish and Brian Song also reached a new plateau, finishing the 1,600 in 4:25.97. His time was good for 11th in the race.
Courtney Meyer and Spencer LaHaye finished seventh and ninth, respectively, in the pole vault, and the record-setting girls 4×400 relay team — made up of Rose Stephens, Laney Teaford, Sumner and Eaton — ran one of its fastest times of the season, 3:54, and took fifth place.
Last year, the Blue Devils squad — with graduated Hannah Krovetz in place of Stephens — rode a brilliant effort by Eaton down the stretch to a first-place finish. This time around, however, Eaton started too far back to have a chance at catching any of the frontrunners.
“Last year, when we went to state, we talked about not taking it for granted because you just never know what’s going to happen during the year,” Elliott said of this relay team. “They race for it. It was one of those things where we didn’t move on, but it wasn’t because they didn’t try harder or because they didn’t prepare for it or because they didn’t race well. Other teams ran faster and that’s OK.
“It’s disappointing, but we’re also very proud.”
Elliott, Gregg and the Davis nine now turn their attention to the state meet, which begins with trials on Friday and ends Saturday at Buchanan High School.