What was supposed to be the culmination of Halihl Guy’s high school track career nearly went down in flames Friday night at the CIF State Championship Meet qualifiers, but everything turned out fine in the end.
Guy’s first event at Hughes Stadium in Sacramento was the 4x100-meter relay, in which the Panthers held the third-best time in the state this season. St. Mary’s main concern was the health of relay member Chris Dunbar, who hadn’t run in a meet for three weeks while nursing a hamstring pull. Dunbar ran well, if tentatively, and the Panthers qualified for Saturday’s final in 41.65 seconds, a fifth-best in the meet. That time is .45 seconds slower than the team’s best time, and Dunbar said he ran at about 85 percent after his hamstring bothered him late in his second leg of the race.
“I got out pretty good, but I tightened up in the last 20 meters,” Dunbar said. “But it was OK for my first time going full-speed for three weeks.”
St. Mary’s head coach Jay Lawson decided to hold Dunbar out of the 4x400-meter relay on Friday to rest the injury, but Dunbar said he would “run both races tomorrow, definitely.”
Although the Panthers finished fifth in the preliminaries, the second through fifth places were all within .1 of a second of each other. If Dunbar can let it fly today, the Panthers could take home the gold. Their main competition appears to be Granite Hills, which flew through their heat to a time of 41.16 seconds, the best time in the state this season. Taft, whose mark Granite Hills broke on Friday, had baton trouble and failed to qualify for the final.
Guy’s next event was his weakest, the 110-meter high hurdles. Although his coaches didn’t expect him to finish in the top nine places to qualify for Saturday’s final, Guy was out to prove a point after winning the North Coast Section title with a personal best last weekend. Guy was a little too pumped up, however, and false started during his heat, disqualifying himself.
Guy’s best event is the 300-meter low hurdles, and he quickly took the lead in his heat. But he again made a big mistake, hitting the last hurdle with his lead leg. Guy stumbled, barely managing to stay in his lane across the finish line. His stagger caused two more runners to crash into each other, causing a pileup at the finish line.
“I don’t know what went wrong for Halihl in that race,” Lawson said. “I guess he just didn’t drive hard enough over that last hurdle. I don’t need that kind of stress.”
The Panthers hopes for a boys’ team title is still alive going into the finals despite Guy’s errors. Triple jumpers Asokah Muhammed and Solomon Welch both qualified for today’s competition, with Muhammed jumping 48-10, a personal best.
“There are a bunch of teams still in the mix, and it’s all about who’s still alive on Saturday,” Lawson said. “We definitely accomplished what we needed to today.” Also qualifying for Saturday’s finals were two St. Mary’s girls. Kamaiya Warren had the second longest throw to qualify in the shot put, and Bridget Duffy finished third in her heat of the 1,600-meter race with a time of 5:00.39.
Warren’s best throw on Friday was 44-06.75, but she came in a distant second to San Luis Obispo’s Karen Freburg by more than six feet. Freburg has come close to breaking the national prep record in the event several times, and barring a rash of fouls on Saturday should take the state title easily. But Warren said she doesn’t get discouraged finishing so far behind Freburg.
“My thing is to chase after her,” Warren said. “I know that the closer I get to her, the better I am. Besides, you never know what can happen.”
The Berkeley High girls’ relay team will be the school’s lone representative today, finishing in seventh place with a time of 47.67 seconds. The St. Mary’s team finished eleventh in the event.
Berkeley High’s surprise entrant on Friday, North Coast Section 400-meter champion Stephon Brooks, got a rude awakening at the state meet. Brooks finished dead last in his heat. But Brooks is just a sophomore this year, so you can expect to see him again.
The results for the 4x400-meter relays and girls triple jump, both of which had Berkeley entrants, were unavailable at press time.
300- meter low hurdles, boys
Halihl Guy St. Mary’s
Shot put, girls
Kamaiya Warren St. Mary’s
Bridget Duffy St. Mary’s
Triple jump, boys
Asokah Muhammed St. Mary’s Solomon Welch St. Mary’s
4x100 relay, boys
4x100 relay, girls Berkeley