Trip to Folsom is ‘Golden’ |

Trip to Folsom is ‘Golden’

FOLSOM, Calif. – As a creature of habit, I made my third annual trek here to the Golden West Invitational track meet. It’s sort of a working mini-vacation for me as I was able to use this trip on Sunday to visit relatives who live in Folsom – and also use the trip as an excuse to see some of the finest high school track and field athletes in the country.

At one time, the Golden West Invitational was THE most prestigious high school track meet in the country. Since 1960, there have been 150 Olympians who have competed in the meet and more than 40 of those went on to win Olympic gold. The list of athletes who have competed in the Golden West is a Who’s Who of American track legends. There have been many NFL stars who have competed in the meet as well.

Even though the meet has lost some of its luster over the years, the meet still attracts some of the nation’s best. They included on Sunday, Ohio’s Jessica Beard, the No. 1 ranked high school runner in the 400 meters. Beard defended her title, breaking her own meet record of 52.16 seconds, finishing in 52.07. If she hadn’t been running into a strong head wind, she would have likely eclipsed her personal best of 51.63.

Four of the nation’s top ranked runners also competed in the girls 100 hurdles. And there was USC-bound Terry Prentice of Pomona, Calif., who was a double winner in the 110 high hurdles and the long jump. Prentice leaped a wind-aided 25 feet even in the long jump and had a legal 24-6 as well.

Northern Nevada was well-represented in the meet, led by Reno High’s Cameron Kroll, who won the pole vault at 16-3. Using a 16 foot pole for the first time, Kroll nearly cleared 16-11. With a 15-7 pole he cleared a personal best 17-0 to win the NIAA 4A state championship last month. Kroll, who is going to California, hopes to clear 17-6 this summer.

While the wind caused most of the competitors problems, being from Northern Nevada, Kroll said it really wasn’t a problem.

Recommended Stories For You

“It was a good wind,” he said. “It came a little across which is a little bad, but overall it was good.”

Kroll added about using the 16-foot pole: “It was just different. When I get used to it I’ll be jumping higher. I’m just kind of in transition right now.”

Another impressive effort came from Galena’s Joe Abbott, who took sixth in the 800 in 1:55.45. Abbott was a little disappointed in his time, but again, considering he was running into a strong head wind, it wasn’t that bad. He was also seeded eighth, so he moved up two spots. Abbott’s personal best is 1:53.80.

“It was OK,” said Abbott about his race. “It was just pretty windy. I was trying to win.”

Abbott doesn’t know what his future plans are other than to “just keep running around in circles.”

There were two other impressive Northern Nevada efforts. Hug’s Kereiona Johnson won the 100 hurdles B section in 14.76 and likely would have eclipsed her personal best of 14.64 had she not been running into a 2.6-meter per second head wind. Bishop Manogue’s Joe Bartlett also won the discus B section with a throw of 169-7.

Several Northern Nevada athletes who would have surely made their mark here decided to skip the meet, which is understandable considering how long the season is. They included Carson High’s Kayla Sanchez and Andrea Kierstead, who competed here last year. And Sanchez did compete the week before at the Great Southwest Classic in New Mexico where she helped Nevada to a third place finish in one of the relays. Also missing was Reno High’s outstanding distance runner, Mel Lawrence, who won the 3,200 at the Great Southwest.

Another local athlete who figured to do well here if she had competed was Galena’s Langley Iverson. She won the NIAA 4A state title at 5-8 and considering the winning mark here on Sunday was 5-5 1/4, I would have liked her chances.

The most memorable moment here for me came two years ago when Carson’s Josh Heilman finished second in the 100 in 10.51. While the time won’t be officially be included in any Nevada records and it was wind-aided, Heilman’s race has to rank as the greatest 100-meter run in Nevada high

school history.

There was one more reason why I came here and that was to watch Jordan Hasay of San Luis Obispo. Calif. Hasay stands about 5-feet tall with a pony tail that’s about four feet.

She competed here as an eighth grader two years ago and won the 1,600 last year in a meet record 4:42.21. She won again this year, falling short of her personal best of 4:39 and the meet record, finishing in 4:43.34. But again, considering she was running into a strong head wind, that wasn’t bad.