By Daniel Hernandez
What began as an early season meet meant to help track and field athletes get back into their competitive groove became an opportunity for some contenders to test their limits and set high marks.
The tone was set early by California high school high jump state champion Darius Hill.
Hill set a long jump PR (personal record) of 24 feet 3 inches at the Moorpark Open on Feb. 4. That record would only last a week, with Hill’s new record set at 24-9 3/4, more than a foot longer than his competition.
“Last meet I said I wanted to hit 24 and I hit 24, and on this meet I improved again which feels really good,” Hill said.
Fellow jump specialist Novye James also broke his previous triple jump PR by almost 6 inches.
After fouling on three consecutive triple jump attempts and seeing two Mt. San Antonio College (Mt. SAC) athletes reach 49 feet, James lined up on the runway for his last attempt and landed at 50-7 1/4.
“Honestly, I didn’t feel the best,” James said. “I know what I’m capable of, so now that I have this mark now I just want to improve everything and go twice as hard.”
Riverside City College’s track and field team hosted teams from as far away as Minnesota at the RCC Early Bird meet at Wheelock Stadium on Feb. 11, its first official meet since the pandemic.
The Mt. SAC men and women’s track and field team took first place in team scores, both earning 50 points above second place.
“Today was more of a practice meet for us,” Mt. SAC sprints coach John Bolton said. “No disrespect to the other teams but today was a practice meet.”
But Mt. SAC’s Matthew Uballe didn’t treat the meet as just another practice session and broke two PRs of his own.
Uballe squeaked out a win in the 60-meter hurdles race, setting his new PR at 8.10 seconds and beating RCC’s Joshua Hornsby by only .04 of a second. In the 400-meter hurdles, Uballe was the clear victor, finishing at a new PR of 56 seconds.
“This feels great,” Uballe said. “I really think I could do great things for this upcoming season.”
The Cerritos College women’s team took third place, most notably with a dominant showing in the long jump where Aryianna Faircloth set a new PR of 16-10.
Faircloth’s previous PR also only lasted a week, jumping 16-5 1/2 in the SCC Opener on Feb. 4.
“I did better than last week so that’s what I wanted,” Faircloth said. “I was actually surprised that I got first but just up from here.”
She would go on to win in the women’s 300-meter, cutting down her PR by one second to 40.36.
“I knew that I had to push myself because I knew that there was a time faster than what I ran last week,” said Faircloth. “I just made sure I got out quick and I just maintained.”
The RCC men’s team placed second in the meet but head coach Jim McCarron understands the team is coming together after lacking consistent practice due to COVID-19.
“It’s up to them how far they go, but it’s a good group,” McCarron said. “They’re just not where we want them to be training-wise because of COVID stoppage.”
The Tigers next meet will be the OEC Invitational at Wheelock Stadium on Feb. 25.