Yellowjacket boys, Gaucho girls win
Berkeley High and El Cerrito High split Thursday’s ACCAL track meet down the middle, with Berkeley winning the boys’ side easily and the Gauchos squeaking out a win from the girls’. Richmond and De Anza also took part in the meet.
The ’Jackets won every event they entered on the boys’ side. Stephon Brooks, a state finalist in the 400 last season, ran his first league races for Berkeley on Thursday, winning the 200 and 400 and running the opening leg on Berkeley’s winning 4x100-meter relay. The relay win came despite a botched handoff between Sean Young and Craig Hollis, with Hollis leaving early and Young being forced to sprawl out to get his teammate the baton. The ’Jackets won the race by a slim .4 of a second margin. Young recovered from the spill to win the 100 and finish second behind Brooks in the 200.
Brooks, who trains with his father, didn’t show any ill effects of not competing for most of the season. Berkeley head coach Darrell Hampton said Brooks should be in the thick of things at the state meet again this season.
“Stephon finally got his grades straight, so I’m happy to have him back,” Hampton said. “He’s a threat to go to state in a couple of different events.”
Berkeley dominated the distance events despite their runners taking it easy. Their top runners will compete in the Top 8 Invitational at Stanford this weekend, so Alex Enscoe, Spencer Hall and Nic Riley only ran in the 800 on Thursday, finishing in that order to sweep the event. Berkeley also took the top three spots in the 1,600 and Bradley Johnson won the 3,200.
El Cerrito’s lone victories came from Jason Tom, who was the only varsity runner in either hurdle race. The final tally was Berkeley 73, El Cerrito 44. Richmond and De Anza both scored three points.
Berkeley’s girls were handicapped by the late arrival of Rebekah Payne. One of Northern California’s top sprinters, Payne didn’t have time to warm up and competed only in the shotput, which she won.
Payne would have faced stiff competition from El Cerrito, however, in the form of Ashley Lodree and Monique Coleman. Lodree is one of the best high school hurdlers in the country and won both events on Thursday with no opposition. Coleman won both the 100 and 200 in fast times, so Payne was by no means assured of winning any events. But even second-place finishes in three races could have given the meet to the ’Jackets. But Hampton said he’s not taking any risks with his top female performer.
“Rebekah got here too late to warm up, and there’s no sense in taking a chance on an injury at this point in the season,” Hampton said.
Berkeley did get wins in the 400, 1,600 and 3,200, and Joy Broussard won the triple jump and finished second in the long jump, but El Cerrito’s dominance in the sprints and hurdles was enough to give the Gauchos a 58-50 win over Berkeley. Richmond finished third with five points, with De Anza claiming three points.