The 2010 meet was no different for the Bay Valley Athletic League, as the teams from East Contra Costa County captured 11 first-place finishes, 10 of those in sprint and hurdle events.
The BVAL did not win a single event in the throws or distances, but compensated by dominating the sprints and hurdles. Freedom’s boys and Deer Valley’s girls laid claim to the title of sprint kings and queens, respectively, in the Tri-Valley area.
Deer Valley took both girls relays, beating Monte Vista by four full seconds in the 4x400-meter relay, and Heritage by nearly a full second in the 4x100-meter relay. The Falcons, meanwhile, were able to hold off San Ramon Valley by two-hundredths of a second in the 4x100 relay, their first area relay title in school history.
The overall strength of the BVAL girls sprints was confirmed by the fact that the top three teams in the girls 4x100-meter relay were all local – Heritage and Antioch placed right behind Deer Valley.
Wolverine Chizoba Okodogbe, the nation’s top-ranked female 400-meter runner, made an impressive showing, easily capturing the 200- and 400-meter races, while also running on the victorious relays. She was joined as a dual individual champion by teammate Erica Wilson, who won both hurdle races, edging out Deer Valley’s Jamela Kemp in the 100-meter hurdles and posting a strong time of 45.43 to win the 300-meter hurdles.
Another standout hurdler was Freedom’s Kenny Walker. Walker, who also ran on the winning 400-meter relay team, strengthened his claim as the top sophomore hurdler in the state with two remarkable times. His 14.49 in the 110-meter hurdles – against a head-wind – was a personal best. And Walker won the 300-meter hurdles by nearly a full second and finished third in the long jump, despite not taking his final two jumps.
“I was really proud of the boys relay and our ability to turn out a good time, despite the poor weather conditions,” said Freedom Coach Glenn Briggs. “We’ve really come together at the right time, especially considering we only have one senior in the group.” The Falcons placed fifth overall at the Tri-Valley Championships, their highest finish in school history.
The league also produced two other individual champions from outside the Deer Valley and Freedom sprint crews. Antioch’s Khadija Suleman edged teammate Taevionna Wilson to win the girls 100-meter dash And Heritage’s Khyia Slone easily won the triple jump with her best effort of 36 feet, 4.5 inches. Slone also placed second in the long jump.
Other notable athletes included Deer Valley’s Darnella Jenkins, who placed second in the girls 200-meter dash; Antioch’s Shamawn Wright and Evan Grimes, who placed second in the boys 200-meter dash and long jump, respectively; Antioch’s Tatjana Pitts, who placed second in the discus throw; and Liberty’s Michael DiGiorgio, who placed second in the pole vault.
The top seven athletes in each meet advanced to this weekend’s North Coast Section Meet of Champions, where they will compete for a spot in the top four and a berth to the state championships. The MOC is hosted annually at UC Berkeley’s Edwards Stadium, and takes place on Friday and Saturday.