The Elks San Luis Obispo County Track and Field Meet has a way of bringing out the best in local prep athletes. Six meet records were broken last year. Since 2005, 16 marks have fallen.
“Coaches kind of focus on it with their kids,” Arroyo Grande coach James Brown said. “Kids get fired up and want to do their best. If you’re a track and field fan, it’s one you don’t want to miss.”
Close to 1,000 competitors are expected to converge at Cuesta College on Saturday for the 36th annual meet. The first varsity event will be the boys pole vault at 9 a.m., with track events beginning at 10 a.m. with the boys and girls 400 relays.
“It’s a bragging-rights kind of a meet,” Nipomo coach Russ Edwards said. “People want to show everyone from all the other schools what they’ve got.”
Two headlining athletes expected to be back after setting meet records a year ago are San Luis Obispo junior Abrianna Torres and Nipomo senior Kevin Britt.
In 2009, Torres put forth a mark of 18 feet, 61⁄4 inches in the girls long jump. She went on to help lead the Tigers girls to their second consecutive CIF-Southern Section Division 3 championship. In addition to the long jump on Saturday (which she enters with a county-best seasonal mark of 18 feet), Torres is expected to compete in the high jump (5-2), the 100 hurdles (16 seconds) and the 300 hurdles (47 seconds).
Meanwhile, Britt — a recent Cal Poly football signee — ran the 400 meters in 50.35 seconds at last year’s meet. This year, he has already clocked a school-record 10.7 in the 100.
For Saturday, Britt is entered in the 200 (with a county-best time of 21.7) and as part of a 1,600 relay squad. He’s hoping to break the four-year-old 200 record of 22.04.
Britt’s primary challenger in the 200 might be 6-foot-4 Arroyo Grande junior Lataurus Johnson, who enters with a time of 22.9 seconds, not to mention an 11.2 clocking in the 100.
In the boys distance events, the leaders figure to be Nipomo’s Andrew Garcia and Arroyo Grande’s Hugo Gutierrez. Both come in with times a shade under four-and-a-half minutes in the 1,600 and just under 9:55 in the 3,200.
In the field, 6-7 Arroyo Grande senior Sean Brown enters with the best mark in the shot put at 51-2, and is also a contender in the discus at 149-5.
On the girls side, one of the most versatile stars will likely be Paso Robles’ Tess Rountree. The junior heads into Saturday contending in three events: the 100 hurdles (with an entering time of 15.5 seconds), the 300 hurdles (47.4 seconds) and the high jump (5 feet, 4 inches).
Two other hopefuls to claim multiple events are San Luis Obispo’s Jessica Belingheri (who enters with times of 16 seconds in the 100 hurdles and 48 seconds in the 300 hurdles) and Arroyo Grande’s Hannah Stevens (5:18 in the 1,600; 11:57 in the 3,200).
Additionally, two girls who placed at the state championships a year ago will also be looking to use the meet as a springboard to returning to last-season form.
Atascadero’s Markita Hinton, who recently signed to throw at Sacramento State, finished eighth in the state in 2009 in the shot put, and currently boasts a seasonal best of 42-6.
Templeton sophomore Savannah Camacho, meanwhile, took ninth in the 1,600 at the state championships as a freshman at 4:57.41. She comes into Saturday with a seasonal best of 5:25.