Woodbridge freshman Emily Garner was fifth in the triple jump at the CIF State Prelims on Friday. Garner did start training for the event until a few months ago.

Woodbridge freshman Garner becomes a triple jump phenom


CLOVIS – Deep into the night, Friday’s session of the CIF State Track and Field Championships had not told its last story.

The good, the bad, and the phenomenal were about to unveil themselves.

Woodbridge triple jumper Emily Garner has seen her marks improve every week since the Pacific Coast League Finals. In the state prelims, she jumped 38 feet, 10¼ inches to place fifth at Buchanan High.

Warriors coach Aaron Craver discovered the freshman during cheerleading tryouts, and it has worked out quite well. Craver is impressed by Garner’s ability to consistently perform on the biggest stages. He also likes how coachable she is.

“You give her one instruction, she doesn’t even know half the time what I’m talking about,” Craver said. “I can demonstrate it, and she just does it.”

Garner didn’t begin triple jumping until the week before Orange County Championships. If her trend of improving every meet continues, she stands a very good chance of landing on the podium.

“She’s performing great,” Craver added. “She’s a special kind of athlete. She doesn’t lose her composure. She doesn’t get rattled by the moment.”

Agoura’s Tara Davis will be the odds-on favorite to win the event. She is undefeated this year and owns a lifetime best of 43 feet, 2 inches.

The Mission Viejo quartet of Sahla Cook, Taylor Arco, Whitney Hessler and Kennedy Gillian became the state leader in the girls 1,600 relay following their performance in the CIF-SS Finals.

After that race, Diablos coach Chase Frazier spoke of the pressures of carrying the state lead.

“We’ve never been ranked No. 1 in the state in that relay before, so it’s new territory,” Frazier said at the time. “We understand the responsibility that we have to ourselves to stay there.”

The Diablos did nothing to hurt their chances, improving on the time that won the Division 2 Finals to take the Masters. They won their state prelims heat (3:47.33), but another contender emerged.

Calabasas threw down the fastest time of the day, winning their heat in 3:44.71.

“We know that we can run faster, especially as we start getting eliminated in our individual events and (the relay) becomes our focus,” Frazier said. “We want to finish it in Fresno and give ourselves a chance in the anchor leg on Saturday night to win at the state meet.”

Santa Margarita’s girls 400 relay team of Mallory Barnes, Lauren Drysch, Nikki Merritt, and Tessa Green advanced to the finals.

Trabuco Hills’ Sean Lee and Sage Hill’s Chance Kuehnel qualified in the high jump.

Los Alamitos’ girls jumpers had mixed results. Alison Parsons went 19-¾ to place fifth in the long jump. Kallie Given was eliminated in a jump off for the final spot in the high jump.

Also advancing were Marina’s Jake Arnold and El Toro’s Alaysha Green in the shot put.

The county will be heavily represented in the state pole vaulting finals. Jett Gordon (Marina), Chris Doerr (Trabuco Hills), Landon Shank (Servite), Rachel Baxter (Canyon), McKenna Caskey (Mater Dei), and Kate Thomas (Santa Margarita) made the cut.

The most stunning performance of Friday night came from Vacaville’s Jurnee Woodward. The state leader in the 300 hurdles had to fight for her state meet life after taking a tumble over the first hurdle.

Woodward, a junior, got up and worked her way back into a third-place finish in 42.83 seconds.

“Just so much desire,” Craver said. “I was over there on the home stretch. I could see it in her eyes. There was fear. She was like, ‘I cannot not qualify. I’m the best.’ 

“That’s the best I’ve ever seen. One second off her best time ever, and she slipped.”

In the ambulatory division 400, Trabuco Hills’ Michelle Cross (1:17.48) and Corona del Mar’s Suzanne Arenal (1:19.84) finished third and fourth, respectively.


CIF State Prelims
At Buchanan High, Clovis
Q – State Finals Qualifier
800 – 3. Dunne (San Clemente) 1:53.44Q; 7. Heib (Los Alamitos) 1:53.64Q
1,600 – 7. Ogden (Dana Hills) 4:11.18Q; 16. Lamberth (Canyon) 4:13.99
300IH – 9. Sun (Woodbridge) 38.12Q
HJ – T1. Lee (Trabuco Hills) 6-8Q; 12. Kuehnel (Sage Hill) 6-6Q
LJ – 12. B. Schooler (Mission Viejo) 22-8Q
PV – 1. Gordon (Marina) 15-2Q; T5. Doerr (Trabuco Hills) 15-2Q; 8. Shank (Servite) 15-2Q; Escalera (Sage Hill) NH
SP – 1. Osborn (Esperanza) 69-3.75Q; 6. Meyer (Esperanza) 58-6.5Q; 10. Arnold (Marina) 54-9.25Q; Smith (Newport Harbor) Foul
DT – 1. Osborn (Esperanza) 194-10Q; 10. Ammann (Esperanza) 175-9Q; 13. Smith (Newport Harbor) 170-5
CIF State Prelims
At Buchanan High, Clovis
Q – State Finals Qualifier
400 Ambulatory Finals – 3. Cross (Trabuco Hills) 1:17.48; 4. Arenal (Corona del Mar) 1:19.84
400 – 2. Medley (El Toro) 54.25Q; 6. Willingham (Los Alamitos) 54.89Q; 17. Gillian (Mission Viejo) 56.18
800 – 3. Durgy (Huntington Beach) 2:09.41Q
1,600 – 2. Gehrich (Tesoro) 4:50.14Q; 10. Hines (Mission Viejo) 4:52.92Q; 13. Berry (Mission Viejo) 4:57.27; 15. Ortega (Segerstrom) 4:57.80
100HH – 11. Kratzberg (Newport Harbor) 14.57
300IH – 6. Kratzberg (Newport Harbor) 42.83Q
400 relay – 9. Santa Margarita 47.25Q
1,600 relay – 2. Mission Viejo 3:47.33Q; 10. Santa Margarita 3:49.88
HJ – 13. Given (Los Alamitos) 5-5
LJ – 5. Parsons (Los Alamitos) 19-0.75Q
TJ – 5. Garner (Woodbridge) 38-10.25Q
PV – 1. Thomas (Santa Margarita) 12-6Q; 3. Caskey (Mater Dei) 12-6Q; 4. Baxter (Canyon) 12-6Q; 15. Gerardo (Santa Margarita) 12-0; Coombs (Orange Lutheran) NH
SP – 9. Green (El Toro) 41-7Q; Sale (Los Alamitos) Foul
DT – 5. DeSilva (Mission Viejo) 146-5Q; 12. F. Crenshaw (Costa Mesa) 133-9Q; 17. Truong (Esperanza) 129-8

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