Christopher’s brand new track was christened by hosting a meet that just wouldn’t end.
The 2015 Don Christopher Garlic Classic marked the first time a major track and field event was hosted at the northern Gilroy high school and the new facility had about all it could handle.
“I waited for this track for four years,” said hurdler Ally Foster. “I can’t tell you how happy I am to finally have it. For everyone at home to come watch us all, it’s really special and it really means a lot, especially for us seniors now.”
Team signups ballooned to 37 schools in the final days leading up to the annual event and the sheer number of participants pushed competition well into the evening.
The final events weren’t completed until after 8:30 p.m. after not starting until after 7 p.m.
Christopher coach Jeff Myers said because of the curiosity about the new track and the reputation of the Garlic Classic, teams were signing up in droves and he didn’t want to turn people away.
Next year, he said, there may have to be a cap on the number of teams able to sign up.
Even so, Myers was pleased with the day.
“Seeing the kids all doing their best, that’s what matters to me,” Myers said.
Despite the growing pains of the day, Christopher still put up a good showing at its home event, with the girls tying for second with San Benito for overall team score and the boys taking seventh.
Scotts Valley ran away with the girls competition with 68 points and Palma captured the boys title with 64.
Still Myers was disappointed in the team’s effort saying he was hoping for a better showing on home turf.
“It was an OK day, definitely not a good day,” Myers said. “I expected a lot more from them than that. Our expectations are just so high, that a good day for others is just OK for us. … It was a solid day, but I thought they would want a better performance at their own meet.”
Isaac McCrimon, Ally Foster and Natalie Gutierrez turned in the day’s only wins for the Cougars, with both girls winning dramatic races.
Foster captured the girls 100-meter hurdles by edging out Santa Cruz’ Sabrine Griffith by 0.2 seconds, coming in at 15.63. Third place came in more than a second later at 16.94.
“That was cool. I never get to have competition, so when I see that, it motivates me more to go faster,” Foster said. “Competition is always great to have.”
CHS’ Haley Romero took fourth in the race, which brought a smile to Foster’s face.
“She’s keeping up really well, I’m really proud of her,” Foster said. “She’s like my little baby, so I keep her under my wing.”
Foster had a second win in the long jump, out leaping Amy Watt of Gunn by a half inch.
Foster leapt 16 feet, 3.5 inches for the double win.
Romero took third, finishing four inches behind Foster, with a leap of 15 feet, 11 inches.
Meanwhile, Gutierrez had a nail biter of her own, winning the girls 400m with a margin of just 0.01 seconds and just 0.43 seconds separating first and third.
She finished her race in 59.27 for Christopher, beating Marisa Villagas of San Benito, who finished in 59.28.
In third was Jennifer Patterson of San Mateo with a time of 59.70.
All three runners were well ahead of fourth place, who finished in 1:02.38.
McCrimon took first in the boys long jump, going for a leap of 20 feet, 7.75 inches to beat his Palma competitor by 1.25 inches.
He also took fourth in the 100m race in 11.43.
South County was well represented at the Classic, with all five high schools from the local area competing.
The five high schools accounted for 55 of the Top 10 finishes on the day, with San Benito taking the lion’s share with 27, including three wins.
David Cuellar had one of the closest races of the day, in his 200m win with a margin of just .41 seconds ahead of Palma’s Kasey Cory.
Cuellar finished in 22.15, besting Cory’s time of 22.56.
Shraee Harrison made one of the strongest statements with his 400m win, as he destroyed the field while running out of Lane 8.
He had just shy of a two-second lead ahead of Cory, winning the race with a time of 49.27. Cory finished in 51.17.
Harrison said, he’s been running 49 seconds in practice, so it wasn’t a surprise that he finished with that time at Christopher. But he was placed in Lane 8 because he ran a 52-second time on the school’s dirt track.
“I just got off fast and tried to make them catch me,” the junior said.
Harrison said he’s getting back into the 400m event after staying out of it his sophomore year, but is seeing his time remain pretty consistent since restarting the race.
Lastly, the girls 4x400m relay, the Haybalers took the lead in the final lap and just built on the margin.
The Balers were a good five seconds better than Soquel, finishing in 4:09.84.
San Benito’s second head accounted for all but one spot in the Top 5, rolling past Live Oak’s Heat 1 winning time of 4:36.66.
The Acorns took the lead at the second handoff and saw their margin grow to seven seconds by the end.
Willow Glen was the closest to Live Oak, finishing in 4:43.56 for seventh on the day.
In all, Hollister had 10 Top 5 finishes, including a fourth place finishes in the girls 4×100 relay and the Swedish Relay.
Amy Quinones took second in the girls 800m with a time of 2:23.15, finishing behind Mari Friedman of Santa Cruz in 2:20.86.
Quinones also had a sixth place finish in the girls high jump, clearing 4-feet-10.
Marisa Villegas, after her second place in the 400-meter run, finished second again in the girls 1600, coming in with a time of 5:14.36 and playing second fiddle to a remarkable run from Cate Ratliff of Santa Cruz.
Ratliff narrowly missed breaking the 5-minute mile, finishing in 5:00.83.
The Cougars had 12 Top 5 finishes at the meet, led by Cody Oberlander who took second in the high jump.
Oberlander was part of a three-way sweep of the event by South County athletes, as Tim Van Horn of Gilroy and Michael Togliatti of Live Oak each tied with Oberlander with jumps of 6 feet, 2 inches.
Van Horn earned the win with the fewest mistakes to clear 6-2 and Togliatti taking third.
Van Horn was the only Gilroy competitor who placed in the Top 5, but was one of three to have Top 10 finishes for the day.
Nicole Holder tied for ninth in the high jump, clearing 4 feet, 8 inches.
Jasmine Rodriguez-Cruz took ninth in the discus throwing 96 feet, 4 inches.
For Live Oak, the team had seven Top 5 placings, led by a first place in the Swedish Relay as Cameron Kim made up ground in the final 150 meters to win by a margin of just 0.12 seconds over Scotts Valley.
Kim said he was passed around the 200-meter mark and was mentally preparing himself for a second place finish, but said he wanted to give his best for the team.
“You never want to let your team down,” Kim said. “The thing that makes the relay so great is it’s a team effort. As the anchor of the 4×400, you don’t want to let your team down.”
He also said he noticed the third place runner was right on his tail, so he knew he had to kick it up to not fall back any further.
Kim, a regular runner of 400 meters, shaved a second-and-a-half off his personal best, to run the final leg of the Swedish Relay in 53.6 seconds.
This was the first time Live Oak has competed in the relay that covers 1,000 meters over four runners, starting off with a 100-meter dash and building up to the final 400-meter leg.
Live Oak Coach Mike Sullivan said he was watching Youtube video of the relay to get a feel for how it was run.
He said it is an odd race, in part because kids are cutting in from their assigned lanes after the 200-meter handoff.
Unlike in the 4×400 meter relay—where runners cut in after the first handoff—the runners are as spread out, which could cause issues for the runners sprinting ahead.
He was still excited because by finishing the race, both the boys and the girls teams set school records in the event.
Sullivan, however, was more excited over the school record set by Kaylah Grant in the 3,200.
She finished in 11:27.34, besting the previous mark of 11:31.
Grant had just learned the 3,200 about a week before the race and had shaved almost a minute off her time since she’s started.
“She’s someone who from her very first meet is just very mature in that she runs very consistent lap splits,” Sullivan said.
Rounding out the south valley finishers were Sobrato’s four Top-10 placings, including Erica Kelly taking seventh in the triple jump, with a leap of 32 feet, 10.75 inches.
Luis Gonzalez took eighth in the boys 800m, with a time of 2:06.47. He was 0.3 seconds behind seventh place finisher Rene Nunez from San Benito.
Elisabeth Tran took ninth in the high jump at 4-feet-8.
Distance specialist Nolan Doizer rounded out Sobrato’s day with a 10th-place finish in the boys 1600, finishing in 4:31.77.
Christopher’s brand new track was christened by hosting a meet that just wouldn’t end.