Muir set for another title run

first_imgDespite having fewer than 20 girls, the Mustangs are primed for another run at the CIF-Southern Section Division III title. Of course, with headliners like seniors Kiani Profit and Jalisa Williams, it’s hard to not count Muir as the overwhelming No. 1 team in the West San Gabriel Valley. Profit, who set the CIF-SS Division III record in the 300-meter hurdles (41.97) last year, will be looking to top her ninth-place finish at State, which was hampered by injury. Williams, on the other hand, thrived at State in the 300 hurdles (42.90), finishing fourth, but struggled in her main competition, the 100 hurdles. Both girls are three-time State qualifiers and will be poised to qualify in both the 100 and 300 hurdles as well as anchor the Mustangs’ 400- and 1,600-meter relay teams. PASADENA – As he was doling out instructions to his Muir High School girls track team, head coach Mike Knowles realized an paradox. Perhaps no area track team has shrunk in size more over the past 10 to 15 years. However, it’s also arguable to say no squad has raised expectations over said time more then the perennial Pacific League champions. “There have been some years where we walk onto the track with 12 or 15 girls, much to the amusement of other teams,” Knowles said. “But almost always, the other team wasn’t laughing at the end.” center_img Perhaps lost in the hype surrounding Muir’s super seniors are the accomplishments of teammates Jasmine Clark and Elize Pierre. While the versatile Clark is also a worthy 100-meter hurdler, she also has supplied her team with much needed points in field events, primarily the jumps. Only a sophomore, Pierre is an integral sprinter on both relay teams. Throw in the additions of soccer players Amanda Castaneda and Claudia Rocha to help out with the distance events and Muir will likely win its the league title for the 23rd out of last 24 years. Here’s a look at some of the other top teams in the area: South Pasadena Maybe there was no more of a dominant performance than the one put on by the Tigers on May 5 of last year at the Rio Hondo League finals. South Pasadena became the first team in league history to win every running event while cruising to the league tile. Gone this year is 3,200-meter runner and team leader Claire Ryan. Yet, Ryan, along with 100- and 300-meter hurdler Alyssa Yamane, were two of the few losses the Tigers sustained. Returning this season, however, is senior Mina Mohamadi. The sprinter had area-best marks in both the 100 (11.70) and 200-meter (25.38) dashes last season. She also earned third- and fifth-place finishes in each event at the CIF-SS Division III championships. Mohamadi is also anchor of an intact 1,600-meter relay team (4:13.32) that features teammates Chloe Fata, Catherine Messana and Erin Eastwood. Replacing Yamane will not be easy. However, the Tigers’ Tara Atkinson will likely look to fill the void in both the 100 and 300 hurdles. While Atkinson has turned in modest times in the 300 (48.34), there is still room for improvement in the 100 hurdles. The Tigers may be more inclined to lean on Messana, a Star-News cross country first-team runner in the distances, along with Fata. It’s unlikely anyone will challenge South Pasadena in league. Arcadia It seems like every year the Apaches inch closer and closer to knocking off Pacific League rival Muir, and fall just short. Last season, Arcadia lost in the day’s final event to Muir in its head-to-head meet. This year, Apaches coach Chris Schultz feels his team has a good shot of dethroning the Mustangs. Such enthusiasm comes from knowing junior Joanne Boulat is returning. The league champion in both the triple jump and long jump actually challenged the Mustangs girls in the 100 hurdles before ultimately finishing third. What makes Boulat so special, according to Schultz, is that the junior can compete in nearly any event, including the distances. “She’s amazing,” Schultz said. “We might move her around a bit, especially if we have a specific need.” Backing up Boulat is senior high jumper Karen Han and junior pole vaulter Lindsey Richert. Both are league champions, who have a realistic shot at making the CIF-SS Masters. Westridge Let’s face it, the team lost an irreplaceable standout in Maddie Weissman. Not only was Weissman the area’s best 800-meter runner (2:17.43), but she could also carry her weight on the 400- and 1,600-relay team. The good news for Westridge is that a pair of pivotal juniors return. Emily Townsend may have been the most overlooked area sprinter last season. She finished in the top five in both the 100- (12.16) and 200-meter dashes in last year’s CIF-SS Division IV championship, propelling Westridge to a sixth-place finish overall. Townsend and South Pasadena’s Mohamadi are the clear-cut two best short sprinters in the West San Gabriel Valley. Junior Rikki Jeffries also had a solid performance at the Division IV championships, taking seventh place in the 400 (61.12), which was slightly slower then her prelim time (60.04). La Salle (25.40) Coach Fred Riley has a quiet confidence about his team for several reasons. The first being the return of senior Margaret Sitker, the 2006 Star-News cross country Runner of the Year. At last year’s Division IV championships, Sitker finished second in both the 1,600 (5:20.36) and 3,200 (11:31.18). This year’s Division IV championship will likely again pit Sitker against her friendly rival from Maranatha, Rachel Gill (11:21.05), in the 3,200. While Sitker had a great finish toward the end of the season, another highly-touted Lancer did not. Once ranked No. 1 in her division last season, senior thrower Shelby McCray will be hoping to rebound from her disappointing 12th-place finish (31-01.25) in the discus at the Division IV finals. “(She) will be right there for the championship in 2007,” Riley said. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more