A trio of San Diego Section athletes are hoping the number four will play a significant role when they compete in the California State Championship Saturday at Arcadia High.
Hurdlers Charlize James of San Diego and Maxwell Jefferson of Poway are looking to turn 14-second times into 13-anything when both will be among the favorites in the short hurdle races.
James, a junior, clocked a time of 14.29 seconds in the girls 100-meter hurdles, off her season-best of a wind-aided 14.14 and just behind the 14.24 run by Arroyo Grande’s Daniela Ruelas in a second heat.
“I felt kind of wonky at the start,” said James. “I don’t really need to have a great start because the middle of the race is where I do the best. When I ran 14.14, I hit a hurdle and almost fell, so I’m confident that with competition I can get under 14.”
The boys run 110-meter high hurdles but produce very similar times and Jefferson was also the No. 2 qualifier at 14.51, just off his season best of 14.34.
He, like his training partner James, wants to dip under the 14-second barrier.
“I didn’t get much of a warmup,” said Jefferson, who just graduated. “I can win it as well as get under 14 but I really want to get under 14. I need to get a better start.”
Jefferson came back to lead all 300-meter hurdlers with personal best of 38.26.
Poway’s Alyssa Bean, unlike the other two, wants to get a four — as in a 54-second time in the 400.
Bean ran a personal best 55.27 to inch ever closer to a sub-55 time and believes with the third-fastest qualifying time, behind Clovis North’s Takiya Cenci at 54.80, she can get that Saturday.
“I was prepared to get a PR,” said Bean, a senior-to-be. “During practice this week someone told Coach that he didn’t think I could PR here. I told Coach, ‘I have this.’ I like extra work and competition.”
Elsewhere, state 100-meter dash leader Aysha Shaheed of Madison, who is headed to Cal, led all qualifiers at 11.69, not far off the 11.61 she ran in the section championships, a mark that is equal to No. 5 all-time in the section.
“I’m good with that time going into finals,” said Shaheed. “My start wasn’t that good but I really accelerated. I’ll give my all and I’ll be happy as long as I get a personal record.
“A PR is always a reward. I want there to be tears — tears of joy.”
She already had a big smile when it was announced her freshman sister, Amirah, had also qualified for the finals at 12.11.
Shaheed returned to post the best time in the 200 at 24.31 with Bean right behind at 24.58.
One of the younger athletes to fare well last week was Poway freshman and soon to be sophomore Tessa Buswell who shaved three seconds off her best time in the 800 when she made a late run to clock a 2:11.61, well under her previous best of 2:14.66.
“At the start I got boxed in and was a little worried,” said Buswell. “I stayed with the pack and I knew there were runners behind me who would move up. But I have a great kick, so I waited until the final turn to make my move.
“With this field, I know I’ll have to improve a couple more seconds, run 2:09, in the finals.”
She will also compete in the 1,600 where there were no prelims.
Bean and Buswell helped the Titans clock a section season-best 3:51.54 in the 4×400 relay, the third fastest time of the night.
Another Poway athlete, Camren Willis, was the No. 1 qualifier in the long jump at 23-1¾ and he will also compete in the high jump where he has a best of 6-7.
A two-event finalist was Del Norte’s Noelle Elkinton, who was the No. 2 qualifier in the shot put at 42-2 ¾ as well as advancing in the discus.
West Hills’ Brandy Atuatasi reached 142-7 in the discus and will get six shots at the section record where her PR of 162-3 is five feet short of the standard.
There were no prelims in the pole vaults where La Costa Canyon’s Garrett Brown will look to improve on his state-leading best of 17-2 and Del Norte’s Allison Leigh will get to face National record-holder Paige Sommers of Westlake.
Without a state championship, this will be the final high school meet of the season.
Brand is a freelance writer.