Good to the last meet

San Benito's Courtney Allen, right, had the top time in the 1,600 meter race at the CCS trials last Saturday and looks to do it again at the CCS finals in Gilroy.

San Benito’s Allen, Shorey, Martinez, 4×100 and 4×400 look for
top-3 spots at CCS
There is a chance, and a very good chance at that, San Benito
boys coach Iran White said Tuesday, that each and every Haybaler
who competes at today’s Central Coast Section Championships will
advance to state.
San Benito’s Allen, Shorey, Martinez, 4×100 and 4×400 look for top-3 spots at CCS

There is a chance, and a very good chance at that, San Benito boys coach Iran White said Tuesday, that each and every Haybaler who competes at today’s Central Coast Section Championships will advance to state.

A tall order, sure. But not one that any trackster on the team appears to be backing away from.

“They’ve all got an excellent shot,” White said. “There is nobody going into this just for show. They’re all in it to get a top-three spot.”

Courtney Allen in the 800- and 1,600-meter events, Frankie Martinez in the discus, Ryan Shorey in the 400, and both the boys 4×100 and 4×400 relay teams will all make their case today, Friday, at Garcia-Elder Sports Complex in Gilroy, even if it means setting some personal records along the way.

“It’s CCS finals. It’s the meet,” said Shorey, who anchors a 4×400 team that is currently ranked No. 1 in the section. “It’s when everything counts.”

Joined by Justin Williams, Jason Roascio and Nik Soza, Shorey and the 4×400 team have come on stronger than expected, and have perhaps snuck up on the competition in recent weeks. Coming together for the first time as one healthy unit during the Tri-County Athletic League Championships just two weeks ago – Shorey (hamstring), Soza (hip), Roascio (asthma) and Williams (shin splints) had been bothered by injuries for a good portion of this past season – the foursome has improved each meet since, and recently clocked a section-best 3:23.10 last Saturday at the CCS Trials.

“Nobody has taken us seriously,” Williams said. “We’ve stayed under the radar.”

That’s not so much the case now, of course. But the team’s underdog mentality, coupled with the fact that San Benito’s 4×400 relay team was disqualified at last year’s finals after it left its lane by accident, has placed a noticeable hunger in a foursome that isn’t shrinking from the weight of its No. 1 time.

“We’re starting to peak right now,” Soza said. “All of us have been really healthy and all the workouts we’ve been doing have worked well.

“I would like to take first. That would be nice.”

There’s also a feeling among the relay team that if they can simply beat Mitty, which recorded a 3:24.03 at Trials and has a season-best time of 3:23.42 this season, things should be all right.

“My personal goal in the 4×400 is to beat Mitty,” Shorey said.

“Not only did they get to go to state instead of us last year, but they beat us at Top 8 (in Los Gatos) this year.”

With the surprising omission of powerhouse teams like Riordan and Serra, San Benito will be keeping a close eye on Independence (3:24.68), Mount Pleasant (3:25.75), Bellarmine (3:24.13), Scotts Valley (3:24.98), Sobrato (3:26.69) and St. Francis (3:26.96) instead.

Meanwhile, Courtney Allen, who was coming off an outstanding performance at the TCAL Championships in which she took first in the 400-, 800- and 1,600-meter events, as well as anchored the first-place finish of the 4×400 relay team, advanced to the CCS Championships in both the 800 and 1,600 last Saturday.

She scratched in the 400 in order to focus on the longer distance races, and coach Jess Morales is hoping that added fuel will be used for Allen to advance to state.

Although she narrowly qualified in the 800 after a 2:17.82 – Allen just missed the school record of 2:17.00, however – the senior harrier took the top time in the 1,600 at Trials with a 5:03.72.

“She was cruising in on the straightaway,” Morales said. “She said she had a lot left, which is good.”

While beating her top competitors at Trials – Mountain View’s Allison Sturges (5:04.47) and Mary Reynolds (5:17.94), as well as Aptos’ Marissa Ferrante (5:05.09) – Allen’s goal at finals is to break the five-minute mark, which would all but assure her a trip to state.

“Just a second off each lap,” she said. “The nerves haven’t hit me yet. But they’ll hit me the day of or the day before because I have a good chance of making it to state this year.”

Being a senior, Allen added, “pushes me more to do what I know I can do but I just haven’t done yet. The two Mountain View girls, I know they can get me to state, and if they’re not running what they can run, then I’ll just have to stay with the leader of the pack.”

The boys 4×100 relay team of Shorey, Williams, Roascio and Mitchell Cook hold a similar mentality. Clocking a 43.64 at Trials, the foursome will need to stay close to Mitty (43.63), Serra (42.26) and St. Francis (42.43) in order to figure into top-three consideration.

“We should be able to make state in that,” Williams said. “Our talent level is there. We just need to do all the mental things right.”

A strong mental mindset is needed in the discus event as well, but not as much as a solid form. Frankie Martinez threw a 152-08 at Trials, which placed him fourth, but has a PR this season of 160-08, which would have placed him first and ahead of Oak Grove’s Derek White (159-06).

“If he throws that, he has better than a good shot of making it,” coach Iran White said. “It’s all about form. Obviously, you have to have strength, but it’s really all about your form and your footwork.

“He’s arguably the hardest working kid on the whole team. He’s definitely got a good shot of getting top three and I really hope he does.”

As does Ryan Shorey. The lone San Benito qualifier to state last season in the 400, Shorey enters this year’s finals healthy and confident. His 49.93 at Trials was tops in his heat, fourth overall, and a season-best time, no less.

And with top competitors like Carmel’s Hank Morrison and Monterey’s Joel Kemper sidelined with injuries, Shorey is planning on a return trip to the state competition in Clovis.

“That really sucks because I like to have the competition,” he said. “But it kind of gives me the opportunity to get that first place in CCS.

“My PR for last year (49.39) is faster than everyone’s top times this year. The problem is, I just need to run it. I ran a 48.2 split (in the 4×400 at TCALs), and there’s no reason why I can’t run that again.”

Field events begin at 4 p.m., track events at 6 p.m.

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