Commentary

2012 CIF State Finals

Notre Dame, Serra capture state titles

Updated: June 3, 2012, 1:52 PM ET
By Rich Gonzalez ESPNHS/DyeStatCal editor | ESPNHS.com


Yes, She Really Flies Like Superwoman: Serra's Alexis Faulknor mined two golds and two silvers in leading the Cavaliers to the state title! (File photo courtesy of Greg Smotherman)


94th CIF State Track and Field Championships
(see meet links in upper right module)

New! Mike Kennedy's story on Saturday's Finals!


Muhammad, Faulknor ignite team-title wins for Notre Dame, Serra
By Rich Gonzalez
Editor, ESPNHS/DyeStatCal
(CLOVIS, Calif.)
-- Junior sprinter Khalfani Muhammad rallied his team from several meters down to win the meet-opening 4x100 meter relay in the closest margin of victory in meet history and Notre Dame's sprint crew never eased off the pedal from there, rolling to a thrilling 36-32 over powerful Serra at the 94th annual CIF-State Track and Championships, Presented by Farmers.

Muhammad, who capped the baton effort by nipping his Rio Mesa counterpart at the line to seal the relay win by three-thousandths of a second, later returned to win both the 100 and 200 meters in feuling Notre Dame's first state title in school history.

The meet's only other double winners on the boys side were La Costa Canyon senior Darren Fahy, who recorded a rare 1600-3200 title sweep with marks of 4:08.78 and 9:03.29, respectively, and Newport Harbor's Ethan Cochran, who took home the gold in the shot put and the discus.

On the girls side, Alexis Faulknor and Renetia James bookended an ultra-clutch performance for Serra, which piled up 60 points to overwhelm pre-meet co-favorites Long Beach Poly and El Camino by large margin in leaving no doubt as to the superior team.

Faulknor carried the brunt of the load for the victorious Cavaliers, winning the long jump and contributing on the 4x100 relay win while also collecting silver medals in the 100 and 200. James added a victory for the team in the 400 and anchored Serra's winning 4x400 effort as well.

Poly sophomore Ariana Washington was a one-person highlight reel, stamping herself as the Golden State's next great sprinter with swift wins in both the 100 and 200 and a crowd-captivating effort in rallying the Jackrabbits to the silver medal in the 4x100.

Holy Names junior Sasha Wallace also proved to be worth the price of admission, storming away from the field to win the 100-meter hurdles race in a nation-leading 13.33 and also notching the state title in the triple with a bound of 41-05.75.

Fairfield's Daje Pugh sourced perhaps the meet's most surprising mark, bursting down the final straightaway and powering over the final three sets of barriers in winning the 300-meter low hurdles in 40.57, the eighth-fastest time in U.S. history. As recently as two weeks ago, Pugh's lifetime best was 42.02.

The girls distances featured great drama, with Aptos' Nikki Hiltz stunning defending champ Cami Chapus of Harvard-Westlake for victory across 1600 meters in a state-leading 4:42.45, with Chapus struggling to fifth.

In the 800, Harvard-Westlake's Amy Weissenbach blasted the field from the outset via a 59.39 first-lap split en route to a commanding victory in 2:05.70. Simi Valley sophomore Sarah Baxter racked up her second state title at 3200 meters, pulling away from the field early to win in 10:12.00 in a race which she controlled throughout.

(Mike Kennedy's analysis and Rich Gonzalez's notebook will be added on Sunday).

Speed steals the spotlight in Friday's Prelims
By Rich Gonzalez
Editor, ESPNHS/DyeStatCal
(CLOVIS, Calif.)
-- Aided by triple-digit temperatures on a newly resurfaced Mondo track surface, the Golden State's leading speed-oriented performers stole the show at Friday preliminaries of the 94th annual CIF-State Championships, presented by Farmers.

Eight state-leading marks were achieved -- including six in either the sprints or high hurdle races -- on a day when the thermometer peaked at 103 degrees. Nearly 700 DyeStatElite marks were racked up in a thrilling day of action which served as the precursor to Saturday's finals. Temperatures are forecast to rise to just below 100 degrees on the meet's closing day.

El Camino of Oceanside senior Jasmine Gibbs keyed the qualifying highlights, blazing to a state-leading 11.43 clocking in the 100-meter dash, smashing former Olympian Gail Devers' San Diego Section record in the process. Gibbs also posted the #2 qualifying mark in the long jump (19-04.50) in staking El Camino to the inside track for the overall team title.

Long Beach Poly, which arrived here as the slight favorite to capture its record fifth consecutive state crown, suffered a dramatic setback when it was DQ'ed for interference in the prelims-ending 4x400-meter relay. The Jackrabbits forfeited a golden chance to position itself to score major points in the meet's final event on Saturday.

On the boys side, Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks dasher Khalfani Muhammad posted the top qualifying times in the both 100 and 200, including a state-leading and lifetime best 10.44 in the former. Coupled with teammate Eric McDaniel's solid showing in his heat of the 100 and a solid heat win in 4x100 qualifying, the Knights did all they could to position themselves for the boys team crown.

But it might not be enough.

Serra of Gardena enjoyed a banner day, posting a state-leading time in the 4x400 (3:14.60), boasting the top qualifier in the long jump (sophomore Adoree' Jackson), and getting key berths to the finals in the short relay and both hurdles races.

The two-day meet concludes Saturday with field event finals beginning at 4:30 p.m. and track finals set to kick off at 6 p.m. Gates open at 3:30 p.m. with the meet scheduled to conclude by 9:45 p.m.

There is no live boradcast nor live webcast scheduled by the meet. Time Warner Cable will have a taped broadcast set for sometime on Sunday evening. Check local listings.

Mike Kennedy's Day 1 recap can be accessed on the upper right-hand module.


STATE MEET PREVIEW: Rich Gonzalez breaks the boys and girls meets down by event category, noting for the girls national leaders Sarah Baxter and Sasha Wallace, frosh class USR-holder Kaitlyn Merritt, Long Beach Poly in the team favorite's role, and the looming showdown between Cami Chapus and Nikki Hiltz in the 1,600. For the boys, Serra Gardena is the slight favorite, but look for Khalfani Muhammad, Blake Selig and Darren Fahy to all give their respective Notre Dame, Rio Mesa, and La Costa Canyon teams podium opportunities.