Redondo Union’s Mahkaia Lee and Mira Costa’s Dalia Frias competed at the 101st CIF State Track & Field Championships in the girls long jump and 1600 meters respectively last Friday at Buchanan High School’s Veterans Memorial Stadium in Clovis.
To compete in the state meet is an accomplishment in and of itself, but the athletes must make it through one last competition to compete for a medal.
Lee advanced to the final while Frias just missed the cut line. Ultimately, the local athletes left without medals, but gained an unforgettable life experience.
“Overall, I’m happy with how my season went because I never would’ve imagined myself being able to make it as far as I did in an event that I just started last year,” said Lee, who is a senior and competed for the last time.
Frias is a freshman and chances are she will be back.
“It was such an honor being able to make it to state especially as a freshman,” Frias said.
She is one of the few freshmen from across the state who experienced competing at the state meet.
"I am disappointed, but I know that I have three exciting years to come and being there was such an experience already,” Frias said.
The prelims were held the first day, Friday, and finals for all the competitors with medals on the line were held the following day.
Lee advanced to the final with her best performance coming on her last try in prelims.
“At state prelims, I qualified for finals on my last jump with an 18-feet 10-inch jump which was stressful for myself, my parents and coaches, but I made it so I was happy,” Lee said.
Caelyn Harris, freshman, from Upland had the best jump in prelims with a 20-feet 2.25-inch effort and was the only jumper to pass the 20-feet mark.
Lee then returned to the track the following day to compete in the finals but encountered a setback and finished in 12th place.
“State finals didn’t go as planned because my previous hamstring injury from the Arcadia track meet came back when I was warming up so I couldn’t go full speed on the runway which resulted in me not being able to jump my best,” Lee said.
Lee, whose best jump was 16-feet 9.5 inches, had predicted it would take a jump of 20-feet to win.
She was right.
Upland's Harris came back on day two and jumped even longer than she did in prelims. She is this year’s girls state champion in the long jump with a 20-feet 8.5-inch mark.
Jazlynn Shearer, senior, from Silver Creek was second with a 19-feet 10.75-inch jump.
“Mahkaia came in this year focused on having a great year and she did just that,” said Redondo Union sprint coach Stephen Kelley. “She set high goals for herself and achieved them all.”
Kelley added, “It was a great feeling as a coach watching her compete at the state meet because it gave her the opportunity to realize that her focus and drive were all worth it.”
Mira Costa's Frias had to battle a competitive 1600-meters field and fought back and nearly advanced to the final.
“Going into this race I wanted to just go with the race and adjust from there, which became difficult as we went out faster than normal,” Frias said. “I was able to make my way up, but it was hard because of the gap that formed early on.”
Her final time was 4:56.39.
Mia Barnett of Village Christian, sophomore, won heat 1 that Frias was in with a time of 4:50.04.
“Dalia put in the kind of gutsy performance we have come to expect from her in her heat at the state meet,” said her coach Renee Williams Smith. “She ran a 4:56 mile, which earned her sixth in her heat. The top five finishers in her heat advanced to the finals.”
Fatima Cortes, senior, of Great Oak won heat 2 with a time of 4:51.02.
There were just two heats.
In the final, Jaqueline Duarte, sophomore, of Chino Hills won the girls 1600 meters race with a time of 4:42.58 and is this year’s state champion. Meagen Lowe, senior, from Buchanan finished second in 4:43.61.
Even though Frias did not advance, she was in the middle of the pack of some very good caliber runners.
“She was 14th out of 28 competitors, which is a great performance,” Williams Smith said. “As the only female from the South Bay to make it to the state meet, she made us all very proud.”
Frias had the attention of Mira Costa boys and girls track and field head coach Moe Russell with her performances this year.
“To finish your freshman year of track at the state meet as one of the top 1600 meters runners is really special,” Russell said. “I’m so proud of Dalia and all that she accomplished this season. Congratulations to coach Renee Wlliams Smith for all of her knowledge and hard work with Dalia.”
Russell was pleased with his team this year, which won the Bay League boys title.
“The 2019 track and field season was another strong year for our program. Great performances by our athletes and outstanding coaching staff. We are developing something special here at Mira Costa.”