The San Luis Obispo High boys track and field team won’t win any awards for inter-league diplomacy, but not even a relay disqualification and a few key injuries stopped the Tigers from proving what they’ve worn T-shirts all year prophesying:
They have their three-peat.
Ray Smith won the 200- and 400-meter races and was on the winning 4x400 relay team to make amends for an earlier lane violation, William Ernst and Callum Bolger won the distance races, and San Luis Obispo won the boys PAC 8 team title for the third straight year Thursday in cloudy Atascadero.
“It was kind of cocky of us to make those shirts,” said Smith after winning the 200 in 22.43 seconds. “It started a lot of beef between the teams, but if we pull this off, it’ll be amazing because we are missing some big parts of our team.”
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The most noticeable omission was senior sprinter Nate Greenelsh, the defending 100 and 200 champion who was dealing with a nagging hamstring injury. Fellow senior Pricer Hitchcock was also limited to running only in the final 4x400 relay, which he, Smith, Ethan McSwain and Nate Higgins teamed to win 3 minutes, 29.41 seconds.
After the race, when San Luis Obispo finished with 164 points to second-place Arroyo Grande’s 121.5 and third-place Paso Robles’ 80, the Tigers threw on those controversial shirts, gathered at the 50-yard-line of the football field and began chanting the same phrase adorned on their backs.
“Three-peat! Three-peat! Three-peat!”
There was no such fanfare for the Eagles girls, which went about its three-peat business with ease, just like Leza Cassidy’s winning 3,200 run of 11:19.
Arroyo Grande finished with 195.5 points to win the girls team race, followed by San Luis Obispo at 140 and host Atascadero at 111.5.
Eagles jumper Josephine Graeber was the lone girl to win two individual events, taking the triple jump at 34 feet, 41⁄2 inches and the long jump at 16-73⁄4.
San Luis Obispo’s Lexi Johnson won the 200 in 25.55 and was on the winning 4x100 relay team — with Kelly McGuire, Cassidy Block and Kate Miller in 49.36 — but was edged by Atascadero’s Brittney McKinley (12.62) in 100.
Paso Robles used a pair of strong finishes to sweep the 800s, as Madison Moore won the girls race in comeback fashion in 2:13.47, and Joshua Potter kicked away on the outside to distance himself from a pack of four and win the boys in 2:00.18.
“I was just hoping I had enough in me that last 100,” said Potter, a junior. “Right around that final turn, I was kind of boxed in so I knew I had to get out wide. It was rough, but I got around, got out and just had to send ’er home.”
Moore also teamed with Claire Farrell, Ashley Davis and Gwen Lundy for a dramatic finish just in front of Arroyo Grande in the 4x400 relay in 4:01.85.
In its first year competing in the PAC 8, Mission Prep put forth a strong showing on both sides. The boys took eighth with 23 points, but got a victory from senior Shereef Wahba in the discus with a throw of 142-11.
The girls overcame some early jitters — a false start disqualification in the 4x100 relay — to take fifth behind Paso Robles and ahead of the three Santa Maria schools.
Alyssa Caldera won the 400 for the Royals in 59.08.
There were a pair of redemption tales in the field events on the boys side, as San Luis Obispo’s Cian Fernandez — who broke his ankle at this meet last season — returned to the pole vault to win in at 14-1.
Arroyo Grande’s Joel Bishop took a year off of jumping and still needs to undergo surgery for a knee issue, but he kicked the meet off by winning the first event of the day, the high jump.
The junior was the lone participant to clear 6-0, and he set a new personal best despite already wrapping up the title when he made 6-3.
“It’s awesome,” Bishop said. “Our football team tied for league and winning this is great, too. Wish we could have gotten it in basketball, too, but it’s great to be out here.”
Perhaps the biggest story took place — or rather, didn’t take place — in the sky. Rain and even thunderstorms were in the forecast, causing athletic directors and coaches alike to start formulating a contingency plan if the meet needed to be moved to today.
But aside from a few momentary drizzles, the afternoon stayed dry albeit chilly.
“Usually it’s hot up here, I mean, last year it was in the 80s,” said Smith, a senior who will run at Cuesta College with hopes of moving on to Cal Poly. “We live in a nice town, but it makes us look tougher when we can compete in this type of weather.”