The girls division team competition should be tight as Deer Valley and Heritage fight it out for the league title. The Wolverines are favored to win the BVAL league meet, but if the Patriots finish second, they’ll wrap up the league title. Two weeks ago the Patriots upset the Wolverines 87-49 in the last dual meet of the season. On the boys side, Heritage is favored to win its third consecutive league title, while Deer Valley and host Freedom will likely vie for the second spot.
Many athletes competing Saturday have more on their minds than a league championship, as some of the state’s best happen to belong to the six teams in the BVAL. A chance to move on to the North Coast Section Tri-Valley meet is in order, since the top six finishers try to keep their state meet hopes alive the next week at Granada High School.
Freedom and Deer Valley’s top sprinters lead the way in the 4x100-meter relay. Freedom senior Timazray Shepherd is the fastest in the field, while Antioch’s Shamawn Wright will be hard on Shepherd’s heels. Deer Valley’s Shawn Simms and Heritage’s Bryan Cuellar have also enjoyed outstanding seasons. Wright should win the 200 meters, but don’t count out Simms. Both have posted the section’s two fastest times.
The quarter-mile event features Deer Valley senior Jesse White and his 10th-fastest time in the state. White will be challenged by a pair from Heritage – Miguel Aguiar and freshman Frank Kurtz. All have run sub-50-second times this year.
In the girls sprints, Antioch’s Khadija Suleman owns the section’s second fastest time at 12.20 seconds in the 100-meter dash, and will lead the Panthers in a close battle with Deer Valley in the 4x100-meter relay. The Wolverines have the section’s fastest time and are ninth in the state. Suleman is favored to win the 200 meters as well.
Deer Valley’s Raven Fox and Antioch’s Taevionna Wilson are tenths of a second apart and should provide an exciting race in the 400 meters.
Heritage distance runners have dominated the 800- and 1600-meter runs this year. Seniors Eric Morford and Brandon Brum have excellent chances of moving on to the NCS Meet of Champions in Berkeley in two weeks. Morford has run 4:20 in the 1600, while Brum leads the 800 with a 1:56. Morford, who owns the fastest qualifying time in the league at 9:59, could also win the 3200 meters but should get challenged by Deer Valley’s Paul Matejcek.
In the girls distance races, Heritage senior Alex Grant has proven to be the top runner in the 800 and 1600. Grant should get challenged by teammate Sarah Toelkes and Antioch’s Gianna Lucido in the half-mile, while Liberty’s Cora Williams will attempt to upset Grant in the mile. Freedom’s crew of Carmen Martinez, Lisa Tilcock and Kendall Kawalkowski could sweep the two-mile event with Martinez leading the way.
Continuing Freedom’s dynasty in the hurdles is D’Amora Cooper, who has established himself as the league’s best. Cooper has run a personal best 14.71 in the 110 high hurdles at a dual meet this year, placing him sixth in the section. Pittsburg’s Devontae Sabir-Anderson leads the field in the intermediate 300 hurdles. Cooper is his closest competitor.
Deer Valley’s Erica Wilson is far and away the top hurdler in the 100 and 300 hurdle races. Wilson is ranked fifth in the section in the 100-meter hurdles, which features some of the nation’s finest. In the 300 hurdles, Wilson is the section’s fastest and ranked ninth in the state.
Heritage and Pittsburg will dominate the throwing events. Jacob Rounds of Heritage is ranked 11th in the state in the shot put with a best of 57 feet, 7 inches. He’s also favored in the discus throw, but could get challenged by teammates Alex Horncliff and Kyle Thacker. Pittsburg’s John Lacey has the second farthest throw in the shot at 49-8. For the girls competition, Idorenyin Udoh of Pittsburg leads the competition with a discus throw of more than 99 feet. Her shot put throw of 30-9 is second to Liberty’s Kayla Ambrose, who leads with a toss of 31-1.
Billy Eng of Heritage and Michael Kicenski of Freedom will compete for the top high jump spot. Both senior rivals have jumps over 6 feet, 4 inches, Eng topping out at 6-6. Kicenski beat Eng in a dual meet earlier in the season. Eng is ranked 11th in the state. On the girls side, Heritage fields three jumpers that leap over 4-10. Brittney Kuykendall leads the pack for the Patriot girls with a personal best 4-11.
Cooper and Simms will also face off in the long jump, where Cooper holds a slight edge. Cooper has jumped over 22 feet this season and is ranked 20th in the state, while Simms is ranked 32nd. Liberty’s Nicholas West’s 44-foot, 8-inch triple jump leads the league. Two Deer Valley girls have posted long jumps over 18 feet. Darnella Jenkins is ranked first in the section and ninth in the state with a distance of 18-9 this season. Teammate Audrena Harlan is ranked fourth in the section and has a good chance to make the state meet.
In the pole vault competition, Liberty’s Jesus Morales and Heritage’s Anthony Bowman will go for gold. Morales’s best is 13 feet even, but Bowman has risen in this competition each week in the event and has cleared 12-6. Liberty’s Michelle Fancey leads the girls competition with a best of 9-0, followed closely by athletes from Heritage and Freedom at 7-6.
– Contributed by Deer Valley journalism student Jabe Geoffroy