Fleet Feet

San Marcos Runners Hit Their Stride in Track and Field

San Marcos High junior Hannah McDaniel (far left) take the win in the 400-meter run April 15, 2010.
Paul Wellman

When Hannah McDaniel appeared to be in over her head, she came out on top, again. McDaniel, a San Marcos High junior, has cleared her height of 5’8”—tied for the third-best mark in the state—in the high jump. In a dual meet at Dos Pueblos last Thursday, she went head-to-head in the 400-meter run against DP’s redoubtable Erin Ristig.

Down the stretch they came, fighting off the paralysis that an all-out “quarter” induces in their muscles. In a blanket finish, McDaniel hit the line first, and her teammate Kaylin Koopmans slipped into second place ahead of Ristig. All three girls broke 59 seconds—McDaniel (58.40), Koopmans (58.70) and Ristig (58.77).

San Marcos High junior Hannah McDaniel tied for the third-best high jump in the state last week.
Paul Wellman

That kind of competition heightens the anticipation of this Saturday’s (April 24) Santa Barbara County Championships at Carpinteria Valley Memorial Stadium. “I knew they were really good,” said Ristig, the defending county champion in the 400. “They ran a good race today.”

McDaniel was feeling the effects after the race. “All the pain just like floods you,” she said. “You can’t get air down into your lungs. It hurts to stand, but if you sit down it hurts even more.” She managed to shake it off and win the high jump with a clearance of 5’6”. She’ll go after the county meet record of 5’8” set by Cate School’s superstar Tracye Lawyer in 1995.

San Marcos also has the favorite in the boys’ high jump. Bennie Kirkwood, a powerful 200-pound senior (almost twice the size of the whippet-thin McDaniel), has cleared 6’6” several times. Dos Pueblos has one of the top throwers in the state, junior Nicholas Scarvelis, who has tossed the discus 181’8” and the shot put 59’4”.

The DP boys also have speed in the sprints with Cliff Lekas and the long distances with Sergey Sushchikh and will try to repeat as county team champions, while San Marcos is a serious threat to take the girls title from the Chargers.

JEWEL OF AN OVAL: Westmont College will host the Golden State Athletic Conference Track and Field Championships at its brand-new track Friday and Saturday. It’s a great facility for athletes and spectators. Instead of conventional bleachers, the viewing area consists of seven roomy grass terraces separated by concrete walls.

MARATHON WOMAN: Santa Barbara’s Cara Gamberdella said she’d run the Boston Marathon to raise money for the Dos Pueblos Little League Challengers baseball program that serves her autistic nephew Genaro so well. Monday, she had to follow up on her promise, and she made it to the finish line in 5 hours, 40 minutes, about an hour behind her younger sister, Jennifer, a Boston resident.

RUGGED RUGGERS: Two teams on the men’s side (BYU and Arkansas State) and two on the women’s (Stanford and Army) pummeled their foes in the USA Rugby Collegiate Playoffs at UCSB last weekend. They will join two other pairs (Army and Cal men, Brown and Penn State women) in the Final Fours at Stanford in two weeks.

MISTY REIGNS: A year after being sidelined by a ruptured Achilles tendon, Misty May-Treanor picked up where she left off on the pro beach volleyball tour. With new partner Nicole Branagh—because Kerri Walsh is in the last months of pregnancy—May-Treanor won the 2010 AVP opener at Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It was pouring rain at the end of the match, and the men’s final was cancelled. Santa Barbara’s Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser shared the title with Matt Fuerbringer and Nick Lucena. “It would have been ugly, sloppy volleyball [if the match was played],” Rogers said. The next AVP tournament will be the Santa Barbara Open on April 29-May 2 at West Beach. Rogers and Dalhausser, the reigning Olympic champions, are off to an international tournament in Brasilia this week.

MELODY RESIGNS: Now that Melody Parker is moving on after 13 years as volleyball coach at SBCC, her legacy as a woman in charge of a men’s team is being trumpeted. But during her tenure, the gender difference was no issue. She simply knew the sport, having played in a professional coed league. Parker was a three-time Western State Conference coach of the year and led the Vaqueros into 10 postseason playoffs. She said she’ll miss her time in the gym, but becoming a grandmother soon will keep her busy.

CONSOLING THE COACH: Mark French had a superb win-loss record as coach of the women’s basketball team at UCSB for two decades, but that was secondary to his main mission: using sport as a vehicle to prepare his women to meet life’s challenges. Now French himself faces a wrenching tribulation. His son Matthew died last week after suffering a cardiac arrest. “My heart is aching for Coach,” said Barb Beainy, one of many former Gaucho players expressing deep sympathy for French and his family.


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