Raptors make strong showing at McClymonds youth meet

Post date: Jan 21, 2013 2:47:09 AM

June 2, 2012

Way, way back in time when I was a high school 400 meter runner, they used to have a special section in the back of the Los Angeles Times sports page in tiny agate type listing the best times/distances, etc. for the entire state of California. I think they did it every Thursday. Even though I was running in the low 52's--high 51's and it doesn't sound that different, it's a huge gap and I considered anyone who could run under 50 secs. a GOD! Southern California (where I grew up) being then and still a track powerhouse, most of the best times were from SoCal schools, especially the famous ones like Dorsey, Long Beach Poly and many others that I can't remember now cuz it's been almost fifty years! But we all knew the names then. Often though, there would be really impressive marks (like 48's and 47's) from two schools in Oakland, Castlemont and McClymonds. Being a semi-sheltered suburban kid, both these schools seemed incredibly exotic at the time, populated, I just knew, by many, many huge, buff, scary runners who would sneer at my punky little 51's and 52's.

That was indeed a long time ago and I hadn't thought of it in forever. But it suddenly hit me that, wow, here I was at McClymonds and I was actually coaching someone who was going to run the 400! Talk about an incredibly huge journey to end up there! We ended up not having Isabelle run the 400 but the whole sensation was kinda cool! Time travel!

So that part was fun but the meet itself was also a complete blast. Most all meets are not exactly pits of hostility, but this meet had hands-down one of the warmest and most relaxed "vibes" of any event we've attended. Yeah, I suppose they could have moved things along a bit faster; but I'd trade ruthless efficiency for rampant friendliness any time! Case in point: the long jump lady! Many of our kids have tolerated grumpy LJ and TJ officials, barking at one and all and generally making the whole experience more stressful than is required. this lady, on the other hand was so nice, funy and supportive that I finally broke down and told her she was the best we'd ever seen!

Henry jumps! The nice LJ lady is on the left.

So, how did everyone do? Pretty freaking well! Our first entrant was brand new Raptor Henry. I'd seen Henry run at the MLK track, coached by his Dad, quite a few times. He is GOOD! Turns out he runs for School of the Madeline in Berkeley. There is a very strong and competitive Catholic school track league in the Bay Area that encourages elementary school kids to compete. So, even though Henry in only a fourth grader he's already an experienced runner and showed up at McClymonds with a victory in 800 meters at his league championships under his belt. His winning time was 2:43, I think.

Henry in the 800.

Well, that PR went by the boards quickly! Pulled by two strong competitors, Henry finished third in 2:38! That's right! Five seconds off his PR in his first Raptors race! Wow. After the finish it took him all of ten seconds to recover. Henry went on toe long jump deep into the eleven foot range (remember, fourth grade). That makes Jared, Isabelle and Henry added to the team in way less than a year. Just getting one of them would have been a coup. But all three? Yee ha!

Next it was Nikhil's turn to run the 800 and it became apparent that Henry is going to be a great motivator. Nikhil summed it up when he said, "I do not want to be beaten by a fourth grader. But that's not that easy a time to beat." In the end Nikhil was motivated to run a 2:29, which I believe was a PR.

Next up was Isabelle, who is coming into her own as a jumper and finished an incredible (incredible since she has so little jumping background) second in the 6th grade league championship meet last week. She carried that momentum into the long jump at McClymonds and won it! After two excellent jumps Isabelle was tempted to skip her last jump and let her mark stand. Gabriela and I suggested that instead she throw caution to the wind and just rip one, not worry too much about fouling. She did it and it was gem! 13' 3"! this was good because her main competitor threw in a 13' jump on her last attempt. But Isabelle's 13' 3" pulled out the win. Wow again. These were all serious, experienced jumpers and Isabelle beat them all.

I think this is Isabelle's 13' 3" jump!

On to the 100 meters for Isabelle! This was a strong-looking field. Again, everyone know what they were doing! At the "Runners to your marks" command all the other runners got down to do a "crouch" start, like one would do with stating blocks. Isabelle, having no clue how to do this got into her "standing start" position. There was a big, long pause and it became obvious that the starter was not going to send the girls off until Isabelle took the position too! She got this stricken look, and kinda got down and imitated what the other girls were doing. This should have been a disaster but the picture below says it all. Coming out of a totally unpracticed stance Isabelle got an absolutely blazing start and was in the thick of the pack for the entire race. I'm not sure how she finished (I'll find out!) but our people thought she got second! The girl is a natural!

Actually, looking at it closely, Isabelle's start form is the best of all of 'em. Virtually perfect.

While this was going on, Annabel was jumping. She ended up with a sparkling 13' 6" leap! I suspected it was so, so I looked it up. Annabel's leap would have won last week's "A" meet 8th grade LJ by seven inches!

Annabel went on to run a great 1500 meters. She had been bummed because she ran the mile hard in PE but was "only" able to come through with a 6:03. Well, no worries, her 1500 time today converts to a 5:67, so it's all good!

Later in the meet Jared and Gary showed up! Gary injured his ankle running with Jared and has a pronounced limp. Bummer! Jared is running a very tough Lake Chabot run tomorrow. Good luck Jared. I left to go home and nap (busy week!) but I think the rest of the gang went to the official Raptors ice-creamery, Fentons!