May 23—Obviously, it takes teamwork to win a team title.
But to really drive that point home, take a look at the Santa Maria High boys track and field team.
In the Ocean League Finals on Friday at Pioneer Valley, the Saints had about nine guys contribute to their league championship, with many of them competing in the maximum number of events to ensure the team scored as many points as possible.
The result was, in fact, a league championship, the school’s first such title since 1972, per coach and athletic director Brian Wallace.
“Throughout the pandemic, there’s been this core group of boys who came every day to practice with the faith that we’d have a season,” Wallace said Saturday. “They just kept going. So seeing this is very cool. It’s very rewarding for us and the rest of the coaching staff.”
Yair Torres and Sammy Herrera were examples of the lengths the Saints went to win a league title.
Both of the seniors competed in four events.
“Yair didn’t win every race because we weren’t trying to win every race,” Wallace said. “That would require him to basically PR in all of them and he’d be too tired to do the last one. But he beat everybody we needed him to beat to save up for the last race, which we did win. He was the MVP for sure. Chris Cervantes and Luis Diaz did the same type of thing.”
Torres, one of the area’s top distance runners for much of his career, finished second in the 800-meter run, fifth in the 1,600, fifth in the 3,200 and helped the Saints win the 4×400 relay.
Torres finished well off his personal bests in each of those races in order to preserve energy and finish all four events to score as many points as possible for the Saints.
Herrera, who had previously specialized in the 100- and 200-meter races, won the 200 and the 400 Friday, finished fifth in the long jump and also ran the 4×100 relay, from which the Saints were disqualified.
Diaz finished fourth in the 1,600 and sixth in the 3,200 while helping the Saints win the 4×400 relay. Cervantes was third in the 800 and sixth in the 1,600 while also running a leg in the winning 4×400 relay.
“Doing three distance races is a bit more difficult than just running the 100 or 200,” Wallace said. “But Sammy won two events. Those four guys carried us.”
Edwin Alfaro also ran a leg in the winning relay while finishing fourth in the 3,200 and ninth in the 1,600.
David Placencia helped the Saints rack up points in the hurdles, finishing second in the 110 and 300 while also competing and finishing fourth in the pole vault.
Jovany Garcia finished third in the 100, seventh in the 200 and long jump and ran in the 4×100 relay.
Alejandro Castillo, a Santa Maria junior, won the pole vault at 8-0. Josh Galindo was second in the long jump and was second in the triple jump.
Next up for area track athletes is qualifying for the CIF Central Section prelims, which will be held at Nipomo High on June 9. Santa Maria’s top athletes have already qualified for the prelims in multiple events.
Since the Saints have been competing in just league events amid a season impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Wallace said Torres and the rest of his top guys have yet to focus on their individual strengths.
“He’s been doing what we’ve needed him to do in order to win,” Wallace said of Torres. “He hasn’t really done what he wants to do for himself yet. That’s the story for the whole team. Everyone is doing the maximum amount of events they can do for the team and not focusing on what they do best.”
Dylan Felix, a junior from Orcutt Academy, won the 800 Friday in 2:09.72.
Julien Ruiz of Pioneer Valley finished third in the 300 hurdles. Carlos Rosas of Pioneer Valley took third in the shot put and won the discus in 135-2.
Ocean League girls
The Pioneer Valley Panthers out-scored all their opponents Friday in the team scores.
Individually, Orcutt Academy’s Sarah Parkinson edged Pioneer Valley’s Kiana San Juan in the 100-meter dash, Parkinson winning in 13.44, ahead of San Juan’s time of 13.72.
Parkinson also won the 200 in front of San Juan.
Katie Magni of Pioneer Valley finished second in the 400 and San Juan was third.
Orcutt Academy’s Angelina Cangelosi won the 800 in 2:39.79 and Vanessa Juarez hit a season best in a second-place finish.
Orcutt Academy’s Ashley Mason won the 100 hurdles in 18.43 and finished second in the 200.
The Pioneer Valley 4×100 team of Valeria Nunez, Natalie Diaz-Salto, Stephannie Jimenez and San Juan won in 53.98.
The Panthers also won the 4×400 relay with Jimenez, Makayla Gonzalez, Consuelo Sanchez and Magni running.
Pioneer Valley sophomore Analysia Leon won the shot put in 29-1.5 and Jeda Dionisio finished second. Leon was second in the discus.
Orcutt Academy’s Viviana Lopez won the high jump at 4-8.
Santa Maria’s Lillianna Soto won the triple jump and was second in the long jump.
Santa Maria 84, Valley Christian Academy 76
Santa Maria made 19 3-pointers and they needed just about all of them to edge the Lions.
Junior Alex Milner scored 32 points and hit 10 3-pointers for Santa Maria. Senior Jacob Estrada had 20 points, five rebounds and four 3-poiners. Justin Gutierrez added 16 points and seven rebounds, hitting four 3-pointers.
Milner scored 82 points in three wins for the Saints this week.
Santa Maria beat Orcutt Academy 60-50 on Friday as Milner scored 31 points and hit seven 3-pointers. He also had nine rebounds. Ben Quintero had 10 points and eight rebounds and Estrada had nine points in the Friday win. Freshman Ethan Kamps had 10 rebounds in the win.
In Thursday’s 65-49 win over the Spartans, Milner had 19 points and eight rebounds, Gutierrez added 12 points and Estrada had 11.