The clouds parted and the sun shone brightly on the local high school athletes competing at the 40th annual Elks San Luis Obispo County Track and Field Championships.
After a week of sports being postponed and rescheduled because of inclement weather, not a single drop of rain fell on the campus of Cuesta College.
Meet records, on the other hand, were dropping like flies.
A total of five varsity records and five freshman/sophomore bests were re-written Saturday under near pristine weather conditions.
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“The wind kind of sucks, but other than that, it’s prime,” said Nipomo senior Kyra Meko, who broke the meet record in the girls 3,200-meter race and won the 1,600. “It wasn’t too hot and it wasn’t too cold.”
San Luis Obispo won the boys team title with 117 points, while Arroyo Grande won the girls title with 125.
The Eagles took second in the boys with 94.5 points, followed by Nipomo (83), Paso Robles (78), Templeton (53), Atascadero (39.5), Morro Bay (17) and Mission Prep (12).
Paso Robles was second in the girls with 113 points, followed by Nipomo (75), San Luis Obispo (68), Atascadero (42), Morro Bay (33) and Templeton (22).
But bigger than the team marks were the individual performances that made them possible.
In his final county meet before graduation, Arroyo Grande senior John Nichols set a personal best and meet record by pulling away from the field to win the boys 800 in 1 minute, 56.19 seconds.
“I’ve been working for that time for the past couple weeks,” said Nichols, whose previous top time was 1:58.8. “It’s a really hard race to learn how to run. The first half of the second lap is where you make your time.”
San Luis Obispo’s William Ernst used his long strides to win the boys 3,200 in 9:32.91, breaking the previous meet record of 9:35.6 set in 1994 by Arroyo Grande’s Pat Garrity — the oldest mark to fall Saturday. Ernst, a senior, also won the 1,600 in 4:21.14.
Teammate Grace Torres set a county record in winning the girls triple jump with a distance of 37 feet, 9 inches, and the Tigers’ 4x100 relay team of Cole Bradley, Nate Greenelsh, Pricer Hitchcock and Raymond Smith kicked off the day by sprinting to a meet and school record of 43.26.
“We ran pretty fast,” said Smith, who anchored the relay and also won the 400 in 50.20. “It was weird; we changed the handoffs so our guys got their batons earlier, and that helped us perform.”
Greenelsh swept boys sprints, winning the 100 in 11.17 and edging Smith in the 200 to win in 22.47.
Paso Robles senior Samantha Anderson fought off a nagging illness to be the top girls sprinter. She won the 100 in 12.66 and the 200 in 25.86 before leading off the winning 4x400 relay team alongside Claire Farrel, Ashley Davis and Madison Moore that won in 4:05.
“This is my last year being out on this track, so it’s kind of bittersweet,” Anderson said. “I keep thinking that I can improve next year, but this is it.”
Meko said she felt a similar urgency to cherish her last county meet, and made no doubt her memories would be good ones.
The Titans star held off Paso Robles’ Davis in the girls 1,600 before leading from start to finish in the 3,200, setting the 2-mile meet record in 11:20.
“There’s so much good competition in this area, and I’m honored to be able to run with these girls,” said Meko, who plans to continue running competitively in college. “Working my way up from freshman year to now, it’s really cool to see the progression and my times drop year after year.”
The consistent breeze proved little trouble for Nipomo’s Jared Springer, whose shot and discus sliced through the wind with ease. Springer won the shot put with a distance of 50-7 1⁄2 and discus with a throw of 160-1.
The Titans’ Kenderick Keszler won the triple jump (44-0 1⁄2) and high jump (5-10).
Cassidy Block, Emma Hollister, Lexi Johnson and Kelly McGuire won the girls 4x100 relay in 50.09 to give San Luis Obispo both of the shorter relays. Templeton’s Dylan Prins, Clayton Mackay — the boys 300 hurdles winner in 41.23 — Peter Josserand and Allen Kroger won the boys 4x400 relay in 3:31.79.
Arroyo Grande’s Jamie Walsh set a personal best by clearing 5-3 in the girls high jump to edge Morro Bay’s Sierra Emrick, who promptly ran across the infield to win the pole vault in 9-6. Cian Fernandez of San Luis Obispo won the boys pole vault by clearing 13-6.
Arroyo Grande freshman Talley Hill broke freshman/sophomore meet records in the girls 1,600 (5:04.73) as well as the 800 (2:17.95) by a combined 22 seconds. Classmate Christian Ricketts won the boys 1,600 in 4:31.2 — a freshman/sophomore meet record — and the 800 in 2:03.41.
Outstanding Performer in Field Events went to Keszler on the varsity boys side and Arroyo Grande sophomore Josephine Graeber on the varsity girls side. Outstanding Performer in Track events went to Greenelsh on the varsity boys side, and Paso Robles’ Anderson and Nipomo’s Meko shared the honor on the varsity girls side.
Graeber won the long jump with a mark of 17-1.
In the freshman/sophomore meets, Arroyo Grande’s Hill and Ricketts won the respective girls and boys Outstanding Performer distinctions.
The Eagles swept both of the freshman/sophomore meet team scores due in large part to the two distance runners whose blistering times showed no less than the next four years of the San Luis Obispo County meet should be as memorable as the first 40.