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Redondo's Amari Turner takes the baton from Katie Kluver in the 4 x 100 relay at the Bay League finals at Mira Costa High School. (Photo by Jim Leinonen)

The Redondo Union girls track team is Bay League finals champions for the 10th consecutive year after the competition was held at Mira Costa last Friday.

“When we first took over the program back in 2005 the thought of winning any Bay League meet seemed pretty daunting,” said Redondo Union boys and girls track and field head coach Bob Leetch. “The track programs at Redondo were pretty down.”

He added, “It was exciting to talk about where the programs were headed. But not everyone was on board. At first there were a lot of snickers. Eventually, we began to have success and things began to fall into place.”

Now a new culture has been put in place.

“The first nine years the girls were undefeated in league contests,” Leetch said.

The year was different as there were no dual meets, just league finals.

Redondo finished with 176 points to second place Mira Costa’s 125 and they did it without some of their top runners.

Amari Turner was tops in the pole vault clearing 12 feet 8 inches. She was third in the 100 and scored in the 4x100 relay with Katie Kluver, who was the winner of the long jump with a 17 feet 7.5 inches jump.

Turner said they she was “insanely proud” about the school's accomplishments.

“I’m very happy I came out of the meet as Bay League champ in the pole vault,” Turner said. “This meet I focused on cleaning up my form so I was glad to get another meet under my belt and get more practice on some bigger poles. Overall, this was a great meet and I’m very much looking forward to improving as I move through CIF.”

“It’s awesome to be a part of the Redondo girls’ legacy that has won 10 Bay League titles in a row,” Kluver added.”

Amber Autry was fourth in the 100 and second in the 4x400 relay  and Julia Ausland, who also placed sixth in the 100.

Redondo Union was dominant in the long jump taking first, second, third, fourth and sixth.

“We had very balanced scoring from really all the disciplines, sprints, distances, throws jumps and vaults on the girls’ side,” Leetch said.

The boys team would have fared better but were without their top sprinter Anthony Zaunich.

A highlight in the boys was Justin Yaskowitz in winning the high jump with a new personal best of 6 feet 4 inches.

Daniel Hatakeyama of Redondo Union won the pole vault a mark of 13 feet 9 inches.

This year’s boys’ champions is Mira Costa, which has now won back-to-back titles.

“Back-to-back Bay League championships is very exciting,” said Mira Costa boys and girls track and field head coach Moe Russell. “Our boys’ team has worked really hard to achieve this goal. They deserve this moment. The coaches and I are proud of all our Mustangs.”

“Having our friends come support us whether they were competing or not made us more determined to make sure that we end the year on top,” said Mira Costa sophomore sprinter Jonathan Gill.

“Track may be an individual sport, but it took a collective team effort to win the Bay League this year, and I couldn’t be more proud of my teammates and all of the hard work that went into winning back-to-back titles,” said Mira Costa junior sprinter Shane Schwarz. “We have all spent countless hours working towards this goal, and it’s amazing to see our dedication finally pay off. I’m so proud to be a part of this team and I hope our Costa Track team can continue to have success in the years to come.”

Thomas Velvin won the 800, Brent Boone won the triple jump and Cy Chittenden the 3200.

“The first 600 meters of the race was all about strategy,” said Velvin about his win. “I had to position myself well and make all the right moves, passing through other racers. The last 200 meters was all about heart and giving it all you got.”

Chittenden said, “I am really pleased with both the team’s performance and my individual race at Bay League finals. My coaches told me that my goal for this race wasn’t to run an all-time best time, but just to qualify for CIF Prelims and ideally come out with the win. I owe much of my win to my teammate Billy Atkinson who helped me keep the pace honest and pushed me all the way to the finish line”

Mira Costa had a number of athletes qualify for CIF, but one of their top athletes the past four years will not be one of them.

Brigette Grau, who will leave her mark as the greatest female pole vaulter in school history, had a stress fracture in her shin this year and will not be competing. She will be moving on to Columbia University where she will compete at the college level this fall.

“Having to call the end of my season early was a very difficult decision to make. I have been dealing with severe shin splints all four years of high school, but I experienced a different kind of pain after competing at a dual meet against Torrance.”

“The most important thing right now is that I heal and get back in perfect health so that my college athletic career at Columbia will be successful, fun, and pain free. I am even more excited now for the wonderful things that my college season will bring.”

Contact this reporter at mhixon@tbrnews.com or on Twitter @michaeljhixon.com.

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