Track and Field: Caesar, Bower defend D-II championships
Heading to masters are Lindsay’s 4×400 relay team and Exeter’s Eric Mittlestead
By Patrick Dillon @PDillon_SGN
EXETER – Lindsay’s McKaylie Caesar and Strathmore’s Madison Bower were the only athletes returning to defend their Division II titles from a year ago. Both entered the meet strong and while their respective titles remained with the two athletes it was Caesar who added another to this year’s take. She won the 1600- and 800-meter runs with times of 5:13.56, and 2:21.71, respectively.
As the defending women’s 800-meter champion Caesar knew the competition in this race was going to be tougher than in recent meets. Her ability to start fast has led to six runaway wins this season. Only this time her fast start did not produce a big gap. Instead she was immediately challenged by a group of four runners.
“I was expecting tough competition at this meet,” Caesar said. “They really came out and pushed me hard, but it was good.”
With 300 meters to go in the race, Caesar was passed. Running in second place was unfamiliar territory, for her. It was a situation she had not experienced during the East Sequoia League meets this year.
Caesar however, did not let the pass affect her. She stayed close to the front runner, retook the lead and pulled away in the last 100 meters for the win.
“It felt good to defend the title, but wish I could have gotten a personal best,” Caesar said.
Earlier in the meet Caesar got her first win of the championships. Once again both her and Exeter’s Rosalind Dixon meet in the women’s 1600-meter run. Unlike the first meeting Caesar lined up on the outside of the starting line. Although, right next to Dixon the result was the same as she won with a time of 5:13.56 minutes. Dixon only managed a fifth-place finish at 5:28.68.
Caesar went for the three-peat in the individual events and came up on position short in the 3200 meters. Running with a lead group she had changed positions with Rachel Fitt of Bishop Union and Hilda Gonzalez of McFarland all race. By the final lap Gonzalez had fallen back leaving the other two to battle for the win. It looked as if Caesar was going to pull off the feat until Fitt over took her in the last 100 meters. Caesar finished two seconds behind at 11:39.81. Despite the second place finish she still qualified for the Valley Masters Meet.
“It was a good pace, but I just pushed it hard in my other races, so my legs were gone,” Caesar said.
Much like Caesar’s dominating performance entering the championships Bower was on pace to defend her 300-meter hurdles title with ease. Only taking second once in the event during ESL meets she was the favorite.
A clean start out of the blocks led to an even rhythm during the first hurdles. Then halfway through the turn she had pulled even with the leaders along the outside of the track. In the front stretch she maintained and widened her lead. She clocked a winning time of 46.87 seconds.
“I am excited that I get the chance to go back to valley as a defending champion,” Bower said.
While the competitors may had stopped and looked in awe of Bower’s performance in the long hurdles the roles were reversed in the 100-meter hurdle. From the start she was challenged by two other runs, and by the third hurdle Macayla Wells of Taft Union distanced herself with a flawless win of 15.38 seconds. Bower clocked a personal best 15.75.
“What is difficult about that is when a girl is so far ahead you want to look at them in amazement,” Bower said.
All season the Cardinals’ 4×400 relay team have won one title after another. Now they are the best in the small school division after clocking a time of 3:24.54 minutes. The next closest team was Shafter who finished three seconds behind.
“We know we have more to come,” Christopher Orozco said. “We worked really hard for this and we know good things are going to come.”
While it may seem like another decisive victory it took retaking the lead on the third leg. Richie Hernandez took a clean handoff from Orozco having a couple second gap lead. On the back stretch Shafter’s Alexis Aguilar came flying up from third to take the lead.
“Honestly I was ok with him overtaking me because I knew I was better at the one hundred and I could catch him,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez kept to his strategy and waited until the last turn to make his move. By then Aguilar seemed spent and Hernandez retook the lead with ease. Down the front stretch he was able to build back up that couple second lead for Manuel Torres in the last leg.
Exeter crowns another jumper
For the second year in a row the Monarchs have a jumper going to the Valley Masters Meet as a Division II Champion. Last year it was Josh Outten in the high jump and now it is Eric Mittlestead in the triple jump. He cleared a personal best 44 feet and 5 inches to win the event.
“I feel like I am going into the event really confident,” Mittlestead said.