The Pirates' men's and women's track and field teams sent 22 tracksters to Cerritos Saturday to compete in the SoCal Regional Prelims, with 11 qualifying for the regional Finals on Saturday May 13. Tristan Griffith led the way qualifying in two individual events. Other individual qualifiers included Terrance Nunnery, Daniel Alejandre for the Pirate men and Alyssa Carrillo for the women. Additionally, both the men's and women's 4x400 relay teams will run at the regionals.
In the preliminary meet, the top nine runners on the track and top 12 in the field events return for the Regional Finals with a trip to American River College in Sacramento for the State Championships on the line.
Matching the gloomy and cold weather conditions, the Pirates started the day under a cloud mishaps and close calls. The women's sprint relay ran a qualifying time in their heat but suffered a disqualification caused by a zone violation. The men were able to get the stick around without incident, were left out of the final by a scant two one hundreds of a second.
Things continued to slide downhill as long jumper Nunnery's first two jumps left him well out of the top 12 qualifiers. But just as the sun poked through the clouds at mid-day, Nunnery turned things around with a final jump that placed him 11th and earned him a shot in next week's final.
Things kept improving as Alejandre and Carrillo came up with big advancement throws in the men's and women's discus throw competitions, respectively.
Moving back to the track, Griffith continued to sustain his hold on the Southland's top spot in the 400 meters. He took the lead early in his heat and was never headed as he will try to win his first SoCal title in next week's final. Griffith also finished second in his 200-meter heat to add two individual finals to his resume.
The final two events of the day showed the women's 4x400 relay team of Miranda Rodriguez, Alisa Houston, Karen Reyes, and Patricia Ramirez grabbing the final qualifying spot with their second fastest time of the year. The men's 4x400 relay team of Isaiah Batis, Max Carmona, Jason Mesa, and Griffith overcame a 20 meter deficit to win their heat in a thrilling battle that saw the Pirate men winning by a thousandth of a second, automatically qualifying them for the finals.
"The day started pretty bleakly, much like the weather," commented head coach Tony Veney. "I was pleased with the way the young people re-booted their mind set after the relay debacle. But next week will be the "meat grinder" since everyone is going to be showing up with their best efforts. So, the question will be: do you want to be the "meat" or the "grinder?"
The Regional Finals return to Cerritos on Saturday May 13 with the long jump beginning at 12:00 pm and the running events beginning at 2:00 pm.