ATASCADERO — The PAC-8 league prelims took place last Friday at Atascadero High School, and the finals will continue Thursday.
The prelims are a fun event with a bit of a different buzz than normal track meets. The purpose of the prelims is to whittle down the athletes competing in all the various events into manageable heat sizes for league finals.
Thursday’s league prelims did not contain any varsity throwing events, and for experienced, upperclassmen runners the prelims are not overly exciting. Many times, racers who have finished first all year long will come in a few sports back in the prelims because they are less worried about jockeying for position and more worried about feeling good going into the finals.
The buzz of the prelims comes from the freshman/sophomore heats. For the younger athletes that have been competing on the junior varsity team all season, this is the one last chance to improve on a season of hard work and show they are deserving of a spot that a senior will soon vacate.
It was a beautiful afternoon and spirits were high among all the athletes, and on more than one occasion a “good luck everyone” could be heard just a few moments before the boisterous crackle of the starting gun. Athletes from all over the county showed their laid-back, respectful nature by reassuring their fellow racers that the reason they ran slower than usual was because of the unpredictable head wind.
Madison Mitchel continued her domination of the 100-meter hurdles with another victory, crossing the finish line a few paces ahead of the next closest finisher. Mitchel also came in first place in the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 47.91.
Distance standouts Trad Berti and Annie Meeder both coasted in the 1,600-meter but came in first place in the 800-meter. Meeder finished the 1,600-meter in fourth place with a time of 5:19.51, and won the 800-meter, posting the fastest time of 2:22.08, per athletic.net. Berti set a personal record in his victory in the 800-meter with a time of 1:56.10.
Senior sprinter Kiara Mabien was only a few seconds away from winning both the 200-meter sprint and the 400-meter race. Mabien finished second in 400-meter and third in the 200-meter, but looked fast and could be ready to break out at league finals. Her time of 1:00.02 in the 400-meter was just barely slower than the winner, and she also was step-for-step with Brittney Mckinley of Atascadero High School.
The freshman/sophomore boys distance team swept the podium for the Bearcats in the 3200-meter. The Bearcats crossed the finish line in first, second, third and fifth place. Sophomores Pablo Cortes and Steven Scruggs finished first and second and freshman racers Damien Gavilan and Michael Hernandez each posted personal best times.
The Bearcats track and field team will continue to compete for a league title on Thursday in Atascadero.