Qualifying Marks Quashed by Downpour

Mariel Rossi deVries, staff writer

While most of the runners on this year’s track team attended a practice meet on Friday, March 4, a select group of elite-level middle and long distance runners saved their efforts for a meet held the following day at Amador Valley High School. The Dan Gabor Invitational traditionally draws thousands of athletes from across the Bay Area for a 10-hour marathon of track and field competition to open the spring season.

800 meter specialists Niki Moore and Sarah Cella and long-distance aces Jared Yabu and Hana Sun had hoped to take advantage of the high caliber competition in order to post fast early season marks.

Although they had prepared well to achieve their goals, the weather sabotaged their efforts. “It was a complete catastrophe. There was a torrential downpour, so the races were run, but the conditions were not conducive to fast times,” said coach Chuck Woolridge.

All 4 athletes experienced blustering winds and heavy rain during their respective races.  Instead of time-trial like tactics where the field uses its collective efforts to push the pace, athletes were hesitant to take the lead, and many of those of chose to draft found themselves boxed in and unable to respond when big moves were made.

While the time was 5 seconds off his personal best, Nikki Moore was able to stay competitive, battling through slanted rain to finish 3rd, just on the heels last year’s NCS Meet of Champions 800m runner-up, David Phair of College Park. “In spite of the weather conditions and the fact that he didn’t run a fast time, relative to the other athletes, he performed quite well,” said Woolridge of Moore’s effort.

Sun and Yabu were less successful, with the former finishing 7th in the fastest heat of the girls’ 1600 meters and the latter struggling to a 24th placing in the overall boys’ 1600 meter standing. “It was a tough day for the distance runners.  During Yabu’s race he was boxed in and when he tried to move to the outside he was hit by a powerful headwind that nearly knocked him off his feet,” said Woolridge.

Cella finished 13th overall for the girls’ 800 meters.

Luckily, the Campolindo contingent avoided the worst of Saturday’s weather however.  The final races of the evening were reportedly run in such a persistent downpour that the Amador track was nearly submerged under 6 inches of water.

“Our hope was to be able to run against some of the best competetors in the area and post early season marks that could be used to help them gain entry into future meets,” said Woolridge.  With the results as they were, the athletes will now have to depend on competition at their upcoming league meet against Alhambra, Las lomas and Miramonte on March 16 to push them to more favorable marks.