East County athletes star at high school multi-event championship meet

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Steele Canyon High School seniors Monique Van and Brandon Howard appear to have answered the question as to the identity of East County’s best all-around track and field athletes by their performances at the 2013 San Diego Multi-Event Championship, held June 8-9 at Cuyamaca College.

Van captured her third consecutive girls heptathlon championship while Howard finished third overall in the boys decathlon field.

Van, who will attend UCLA this fall, fell just 33 point short of setting a meet record.

Steele Canyon High School seniors Monique Van and Brandon Howard appear to have answered the question as to the identity of East County’s best all-around track and field athletes by their performances at the 2013 San Diego Multi-Event Championship, held June 8-9 at Cuyamaca College.

Van captured her third consecutive girls heptathlon championship while Howard finished third overall in the boys decathlon field.

Van, who will attend UCLA this fall, fell just 33 point short of setting a meet record.

“It’s OK,” the Cougar super-woman said. “I still have college.”

The heptathlon features seven events while the decathlon features 10 events.

The San Diego Multi-Event Championship, which is sponsored by the San Diego Pole Vault Club, is spread over two days. 

“It takes a special athlete to do all these events well,” meet director Lyle Barton said.

Howard and Van were both fresh off competing at the California state championship meet the previous week in Clovis. 

Howard, who will attend UC Irvine, came home with a coveted third-place state medal after setting a school record in the boys 300-meter intermediate hurdles. 

Van, who did not medal at the state meet, qualified to compete in the girls triple jump field after winning the San Diego Section Division I title the previous weekend.

This year’s multi-event meet attracted a select entry list, including six state meet qualifiers and three state meet medalists.

“People had been telling me about this all year since they knew I had already done a lot of the events,” Howard said.  

Van competed in an elite field that included Cathedral Catholic sophomore Hannah Labrie-Smith and Valhalla sophomore Leah Molter. 

Labrie-Smith hurdled to a third-place state medal in the girls 300 hurdles after winning both the 100 and 300 hurdles events and recording a runner-up finish in the 100 dash at the section finals.

Molter finished third in both the 100 and 300 hurdles at the Grossmont Hills League finals.

Van accumulated a personal best 4,245 points in this year’s heptathlon, setting personal records in the javelin throw (97-0) and high jump (5-0) while scoring a heptathlon best 16.18 in the 100 low hurdles.

Labrie-Smith, who bested Van in the 100 hurdles (a meet record 15.35) and 200 dash (25.68) in the opening day of competition, had to withdraw from the meet after suffering an injury in the long jump during the second day.

Molter finished second with 2,680 points.  

Van competed in four individual events at the section finals, winning the triple jump with a mark of 37-8.25.

She won each of those four events — long jump, triple jump, 100 and 300 hurdles —at the Grossmont Hills League championship meet. 

“That was my best memory of my high school career — winning all of my four individual events at the league finals,” Van said.

Van will compete in the heptathlon at UCLA. She has an eye on competing at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.

“I’m excited for college,” she said. “My coach (Jack Hoyt) is really excited about me in the heptathlon. From what I understand, I am going to start as a freshman. My brother (Rodney) went there. I wanted to choose a school with a good academic tradition and a good athletic program. I think UCLA is a perfect fit.”

Hanging 10

Howard, who set a school record of 37.65 in the 300 hurdles at the state meet, competed in an exceptionally large field of 19 entrants in the decathlon, including eight East County athletes.

He got his first try at mastering the pole vault, discus throw, shot put, javelin throw and 110 high hurdles at this year’s multi-event meet. 

“About the only event I haven’t competed in yet is the 200 dash,” he said.

Howard edged Poway junior Charlie Bush, a state meet qualifier in the high jump, by three points to secure third place in this year’s decathlon.

Howard said his third-place state medal was a reflection of all his hard work, determination and dedication he had put into the event all season.

“I know I could have run faster (at the state meet),” he said. “Looking at the video my form was terrible.”

At last weekend’s multi-event meet, Howard’s form was good enough for him to record top times in the 100 dash (11.57), 400 dash (50.30) and 1,500 run (4:41.89).

Among other East County competitors, Granite Hills’ Kyle Norris finished seventh with 4,626 points, followed by El Capitan’s Nathan Cable in eighth place with 4,498 points.

Other East County entrants included Patrick Henry’s Tristan Zawadzki, Valhalla’s Steven Rainey and El Capitan’s Nick Cuevas, Matthew Dehnel and James Stevens.

Rancho Bernardo senior Ivy Adair, a state qualifier in the boys long jump, won this year’s decathlon title with 6,129 points. 

Adair set a meet record in the long jump (23-0) and also recorded a meet record for most points (3,496) in the first day of competition.

Castle Park senior Daniel Hernandez was second with 5,950 points.

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