St. Mary’s girls win league meet in last race
All year, it’s been pretty much a given that the St. Mary’s track & field team would win the BSAL. They just had too much firepower, and no opponent came close to knocking off the Panthers in any league meets. But their domination was threatened on Saturday at the league championships.
The Piedmont girls’ team kept the score so close, in fact, that it all came down the final race of the day, the 4x400-meter relay. But the Panthers’ squad of Riana Shaw, Bridget Duffy, Parris Vega and Shameka Savage came through in the end, beating the Piedmont team by two seconds to claim the league title, 192-186.
St. Mary’s head coach Jay Lawson pointed to the absence of the injured Tiffany Johnson as a major reason for the narrow win.
“Not having Tiffany probablay cost us 36-38 points in the jumps and 100, and that made the meet a lot closer,” Lawson said.
Johnson, one of the league’s best in three different events, will have a chance to qualify for the North Coast meet on Tuesday in a run-off against the fourth place finishers in each of her events, the 100-meter dash, long jump and triple jump. Also participating in the run-off will be St. Mary’s Chris Dunbar and Darnell Tolliver, who were both injured and did not compete on Saturday.
The Panthers winning relay team was all also responsible for individual wins on the day. Savage won the 400, Vega the 800, and Duffy the 1,600 and 3,200. Shaw, who doesn’t usually run the relay, won the high jump by tying her personal best at 5 feet, 8 inches.
With Johnson out, other girls had to make up for her absence. Shaw, for example, not only participated in the relay, but took second in the 100-meter hurdles and sixth in the 300-meter hurdles, which she hasn’t run in competition all season.
“We scouted this meet out, and knowing it would be that close, we talked to the girls and had them do some events they aren’t used to, but we needed every single point,” Lawson said. “We have a lot of quality, but Piedmont had a lot of depth in some events. We each dominated certain events.”
Also winning for the Panthers was Danielle Stokes, who won both hurdles races. The big shock of the day was Kamaiya Warren, northern California’s dominating thrower, fouled on all three attempts in the discus. Although she won the shot put easily, Warren will have to seek special dispensation to compete in the discus at the North Coast meet next weekend. Lawson said another St. Mary’s thrower who qualified for the meet has agreed to step aside, and Lawson will try to get permission for the switch this week.
The Panthers had a considerably easier time on the boys’ side, winning the meet with 253 points and winning 10 of the 12 events. Piedmont finished second with 75 points. Courtney Brown won both the 200 and 400 races, while Halihl Guy won both hurdles events, and both took part in the Panthers’ winning relay teams, with Julian Keyes substituting for the injured Dunbar in both races. Phil Smith won the high jump with a personal best of 6 feet.
Phil Weatheroy won both the shot put and discus competitions, but the Panthers got a suprise boost from sophomore Leon Drummer, just promoted from the junior varsity squad. Drummer came in fourth in both throwing events, qualifying for the North Coast meet.
Lawson said the easy victory for the boys was expected.
“On the boys side, we wanted to go in and run well and not have anything bad happen. A lot of our kids who don’t normally go to the big invitationals did very well,” he said. “We qualified everyone we wanted to qualify.”