Ventura College Athletics

Droughn, Handy-Johnson Strike Gold at State Championships

Valexsia Droughn (left) and Darrell Handy-Johnson both claimed state titles for the Pirates at the 2018 CCCAA Track and Field Championships in Bakersfield.
Valexsia Droughn (left) and Darrell Handy-Johnson both claimed state titles for the Pirates at the 2018 CCCAA Track and Field Championships in Bakersfield.

Milestones were in abundance Friday and Saturday as the Pirates' men's and women's track and field teams ended their 2018 season at the CCCAA State Championships hosted by Bakersfield College. The first milestone was sophomore Valexsia Droughn's title-winning run in the 100-meters, followed closely by her silver medal-winning performance in the 200. Meanwhile, Darrell Handy-Johnson provided the second milestone capturing the state championship in the men's high jump.

Droughn had to maintain focus through two false starts that disqualified two of her main rivals in the race. The third start was a fair one and she stormed to the lead at the halfway mark and was never challenged on her way to the state crown. She broke the tape in 11.86, winning the race by .37 of a second.  Droughn then came back 45 minutes later to take second in the 200 meters to finish one of the finest sprint doubles in school history.

The second milestone of the championships was authored by high jump state leader Darrell H-J. He waited through numerous delays to clear the bar at 6' 8 3/4" to capture the gold. Darrell's twin brother Terrell Handy-Johnson finished in a fourth-place tie in the event.  Terrell and Darrell later placed fifth and sixth, respectively, in the triple jump and Darrell came in eighth in the long jump.

On Tuesday before the meet, VC head coach Tony Veney received a call from the state competition committee offering distance runner Adan Cruz, the first alternate in the 10k, a spot in the state final. Cruz, making the best of his opportunity, ran a massive 41-second personal-best en route to a seventh-place All-American finish, moving to the No. 5 spot on VC's all-time record list with a time of 31:49.36.

The third milestone was the 26 points earned by the Pirate men, leading VC to a sixth-place finish in the team standings, the highest finish by the Pirates in at least 20 years.  Mt. San Antonio College claimed the men's team title with 160 points. All total, 36 men's teams scored points in the championships.

Marissa Gonzales ended her Pirate career with a fifth-place finish in the 5k, and together with the sprint points secured by Droughn, resulted in milestone No. 4 as the women placed 10th overall with 22 points scored by two individuals. Mt. San Antonio also claimed the women's title with 169.5 points. The meet included 38 teams who scored points in the women's team standings.

The fifth milestone of the championships for Ventura was the paired top-10 finishes by the men's and women's teams, another feat not achieved in at least the last 20 years.

"The young men and women really responded when their feet were put to the fire today," said coach Veney. "This has been an exhausting but rewarding season, and I would be remiss if I did not recognize the work Paul Gonzalez, Melody Axtell, Meshack Shively, and Daniel Aslan performed as assistant coaches."

Men's Results Women's Results
1. Mt. San Antonio 160     1. Mt. san Antonio 169.5
2. Riverside 122     2. Cerritos 154
3. Sequoias  95     3. Riverside  54
4. American River  54     4. West Los Anglees  47
5. El Camino  40     5. American River  41
6. VENTURA  24     6. Moorpark  32
7. Modesto  22     7. Cuesta  26
8. San Joaquin Delta  19     8. Sacramento  25
9. Diablo Valley  18     8. Saddleback  25
9. East Los Anglees  18     10. VENTURA 22
9. Saddleback  18