East County track and field athletes fair well at California state championships

0
100
WEBLeahMolter_hurdles.jpg

Mount Miguel High School junior Laulauga Tausaga experienced a wide range of emotions at this year’s San Diego Section track and field championship meet, held May 30 at Mt. Carmel High School. She cried when set a new section record in the girls shot put and also cried, but for a much different reason. When she finished near the bottom of the section leaderboard in her other specialty event, the girls’ discus throw.

Mount Miguel High School junior Laulauga Tausaga experienced a wide range of emotions at this year’s San Diego Section track and field championship meet, held May 30 at Mt. Carmel High School. She cried when set a new section record in the girls shot put and also cried, but for a much different reason. When she finished near the bottom of the section leaderboard in her other specialty event, the girls’ discus throw.

“I cried, it was emotional,” Tausaga explained. “I won and I lost.”

But it was all smiles for the Lady Matador standout at last weekend’s 97th California state championship meet at Buchanan High School in Clovis after securing a bronze medal in the shot put.

“It wasn’t a new record but we came to place and we placed,” she said. “Next year, I’ll try winning it.”

Tausaga led all section qualifiers for this year’s state meet with her record mark of 48 feet, 3.5 inches. She bettered the old mark, set in 2001, by nearly two feet.

She was almost too embarrassed to talk about the mark in the discus throw. It measured just 94-7 – eighth among the section’s Division II throwers and well under her season best of 156-7.

She made up for any shortcomings at the section finals at last Saturday’s state finals, however. Her third-place mark of 47-11.5 did not exceed her section record but it provided her with a new benchmark of success: a state medal.

Tausaga said she met or exceeded most of the goals she set for herself at the start of the season.

“I wanted to make state and I if I didn’t get 50 feet (in the shot put), I wanted to break the section record, which I did,” she explained.  

This was her second trip to the state meet but the first time she made it as far as the state finals.

Tausaga qualified for the championship flight with a mark of 44-11.75 in the state prelims, held the previous day. She finished fourth among prelim qualifiers.

The Lady Matador state medal-winner admitted she was a bit nervous when the state prelims started. “But I still felt good, “she explained. “(For the prelims) I wasn’t out to set a record, I just wanted to qualify for the finals.”

The money moment came in the finals with the medal. Valley Christian junior Elena Bruckner captured the gold medal with a put of 50-2.5, followed by Notre Dame senior Nia Britt at 48-10.75 with the silver medal.

Also famous

Overall, three East County athletes finished with medals at this year’s state finals, considered the best high school track event in the nation.

Patrick Henry senior Tristan Zawadzki tied for fourth place in the boys pole vault by clearing 15-3 while Valhalla senior Leah Molter finished sixth in the girls 300-meter hurdles with a personal record time of 42.32.

The top six place-finishers in each event earned medals.

Zawadzki, a three-time Eastern League champion, posted the top state qualifying mark of 15-3 at the section finals the preceding week. He said his goal this season was just to “clear the bar, whatever the height.” 

He cleared three heights at the state finals – 14-3, 14-9 and 15-3 – before failing to clear 15-9. Oak Ridge senior Austin Laut won the state title by clearing 15-9.

“It was great,” Zawadzki said of earning his first state medal. “This was the best field in which I’ve ever competed, so it was nice. I don’t get beat too often.”

Zawadzki received a confidence boost when he posted the second-best state prelim qualifying mark of 15-2 the previous day. His personal best remains 15-7.

He will continue his track career at the University of Sioux Falls in South Dakota.

Orange Nation

Valhalla’s two state meet qualifiers included Molter and sophomore Elizabeth Yocom, who competed in the girls’ high jump.

Molter qualified in two events after winning Division I titles at the section finals in the 100- and 300-meter hurdles. She advanced to the state finals race in the 300 hurdles but failed to advance to the second day of competition at the state meet in the 100 hurdles.

Valhalla coach Garrett Ince was beaming after the 300 hurdles race, the last of Molter’s high school career.

“To come in here to the California state championships and finish her career on the awards podium is just special,” he said.

Molter was one of two San Diego Section runners to medal in the 300 hurdles event. Cathedral Catholic junior Dani Johnson was third in 41.30.

Johnson and Molter finished in that order at the preceding section finals.

Molter was ecstatic after winning the state medal.

“This meet ended in the best way possible,” the VHS hurdler said. “To get the experience of running against the best girls in the state, setting a PR and getting a medal – to get all three was just amazing.”

Johnson and Molter competed in an exceptionally fast field – race winner Jasmyne Graham of Roosevelt recorded the top time in the nation this year at 40.73. Graham’s time was the eighth-fastest time ever in California and the ninth fastest time ever in U.S. history.

Athletes with the top nine prelim running times advanced to the state finals.

Molter placed eighth in prelim qualifying in the 100 hurdles with a time of 42.54. She was slowed in the race after hitting two hurdles, one at the start and one at the end.

Despite clipping the two barriers, Molter still set a new PR in the event. She had timed 42.55 at the section finals a week earlier.

“I think my mind wasn’t operating as fast as my body,” Molter explained. “I caught myself and got back in step after I hit it the first time. But the second time I hit it, I had to do everything not to fall.”

“The second hit greatly interfered with her steps,” Ince said.

Molter said the disappointing finish in the 100 hurdles prelim race served as extra motivation to do well in the 300 hurdles finals.

“I wanted to show that I was better than what I did in the 100s,” Molter said.

Consider that mission accomplished.

Yocom didn’t advance beyond the section prelims despite equaling her career best of 5-2 in the high jump.

“She made the most of her moment,” Ince explained. “Having got in through a scratch after placing fifth at the section finals, it was great to see her match her best. She was excited and is that much more motivated for next year.”

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here