Redondo Union’s Amari Turner, who is the Bay League and CIF-Southern Section Division 1 girls pole vault champion, reached the pinnacle of her yet unfinished high school career.
Turner won the silver medal in the pole vault at the 100th CIF State Track and Field Championships held at Buchanan High School’s Memorial Stadium in Clovis last Friday and Saturday.
Mira Costa’s Xavier Court broke 9:00 for the first time and set a new school record in the process as he was a bronze medalist in the grueling 3200-meter race.
Also, Mira Costa’s Brigette Grau advanced to the girls pole vault finals and the Redondo Union girls 4 x 100 relay competed in the prelims.
For Redondo Union, it is the second consecutive year having a top-two finish in the pole vault, boys or girls. Last year Tate Curran was the state champion in the boys event.
“This weekend was unforgettable,” Turner said. “I went into the weekend with a goal of placing and being able to accomplish that was a cherry on top of a fantastic season.”
Turner, a junior, cleared 12-feet 6-inches, which is what gold medal winner Laurel Wong of Santa Catalina did, but her miss at 12-feet 6-inches was the difference. Wong cleared it on her first try.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better junior year and I am extremely grateful to have experienced it all and end with it a medal,” Turner said. “While I did struggle at times, getting through them was well worth it. It was a dream second place finish.”
“Next year I just plan to continue working on the little things with my coaches and just improve little by little," said Turner.
"I hope to make it to state next year as well, but ultimately I want to continue having fun competing and enjoying myself at every single meet I attend with my teammates and the amazing athletes from across California.”
Turner wanted to thank all her coaches for “all the support they’ve provided throughout the season.”
“Amari has had a spectacular season with many milestones along the way; Bay League champion in the 100, 200 and 4x100 relay to go along with her CIF Division 1 pole vault championship,” said Redondo Union boys and girls track head coach Bob Leetch. “But to end the season as the No. 2 vaulter in this state is quite an achievement. The entire coaching staff and myself are very proud of her accomplishments and how she represents our school in her humble manner.”
Turner commented also on her run to state with the relay team, which included Julia Ausland, Mahkaia Lee and Indica Showell. They finished 18th in prelims with a time of 48.39.
“Making it to state with the 4 x 100 team was definitely exciting, but also rewarding in that we knew that if we worked hard enough we could get there by putting our minds to it. Just knowing that we were good enough to earn a spot at state boosts our confidence tremendously and only makes us want to do even better next year.”
Court’s time of 8:59.56 is a new school record and he is the first from Mira Costa to break the 9:00 barrier.
“Going into that final lap I was down to fourth and really everyone kicked early so it was all-out to the finish,” Court said. “I was positioned in third by the final straight, but did not quite have the close I wanted to catch Justin Hazell (El Camino Real) and Matt Strangio (Jesuit). They both raced very well and are great competitors from cross country. I was content with the third.”
Court had to overcome an injury on Monday, just days leading up to the race and was unable to run, instead he rehabbed his injury.
“It was not ideal even though it was a taper week,” Court said.
He talked about getting ready for the race itself.
“The atmosphere at state is naturally very intense and with the 3200 starting at 9:30 p.m. at night under lights with a big crowd, it is exciting. But I zone out in that hour before the race, so I can get in the right frame of mind.”
He had to stay focused until the end trying to stay out of danger.
“Through lap 6-7 the field finally began spreading out where I positioned myself in fifth or sixth and going into the bell lap it was pretty much Matt, Justin, Ethan Danforth (who finished fourth) and I.”
“Xavier is absolutely insane to watch,” Grau said. “I have no idea after running seven laps he can sprint an entire lap to win almost every race this season. Having a fellow Mira Costa athlete place third in the state meet is something I will never forget watching.”
Court is going to the University of California-Berkley to run track.
As for Grau, she made it through the initial hurdle like Turner, but in the finals was unable to clear the initial starting height.
“Getting through to finals was a battle in and of itself,” Grau said.
“In the prelims, she cleared 12-feet for the 11th time this year and made it to the finals with 12 of California’s best girls,” said Mira Costa pole vaulting coach Murray Mead.
Although she was not able to do the same in the finals, Grau will no doubt take that as challenge for her senior year.
“Getting to watch at the state meet was inspiring,” Grau said. “I’ve been competing with Amari for three years now. Honestly, I’m so proud of her for placing second at the state meet. Hopefully next year I’ll be up on that award podium celebrating with her.”
It was a great season for Mead and his pole vaulters.
“This year’s team was Mira Costa’s best ever,” Mead said.
“The California State Track meet is one of the greatest sporting events in the country,” Redondo's coach Leetch said. “There are no divisions at our state meet and it is head-to-head competition. No ballots, no polls. In the most populous and significant state in the nation. To qualify for this meet is remarkable. Very difficult with no mercy along the way.”