Tesoro's Amanda Gehrich wins the 1,600 meters at the CIF State Track and Field Championships in Clovis on Saturday. Her time was the fastest in the nation this year.

Gehrich, Tamagno pull off thrilling wins at State


CLOVIS – Ask Tesoro’s Amanda Gehrich what she thinks of a successful race and she will likely respond, “It all worked out.”

With a triumph in the 1,600 meters at the Orange County Championships and a CIF-SS title under her belt heading into the CIF State Track and Field Championships, things had been working out often for the junior this year. It happened again in a big way at Buchanan High on Saturday night.

Gehrich ran a U.S.-leading 4:39.33 to overthrow the Southern Section’s Masters champion, Great Oak of Temecula’s Destiny Collins (4:39.88)

The duo posted the top two times in the nation this year. Gehrich tailed Collins for 31/2 laps, leaving a target for her last move. The Titans star was not sure what she would have left going into the final turn, but she accelerated past Collins for the win.

“The plan was to have something at the end so that I could push it for the last 100 or whatever I had left,” Gehrich said.

After learning that she had run the best time in the nation this season, Gehrich was dumbfounded.

“I’m at a loss for words for how to describe that feeling,” she said. “It’s incredible. I’m just so grateful I was able to come across. I’m really proud of myself.”

Despite a season of adversity (illness), Brea Olinda’s Austin Tamagno also ended his state campaign with a 1,600 title. The junior held off a late challenge from Huntington Beach’s George Gleason.

“This was the most I’ve been mentally tested this year,” he said. I’m glad I was able to hang in there, stay strong, and accomplish my goal.”

“I made a move. Then George Gleason made his move. I knew at that point he was feeling really good, and he was going to challenge me for the win.”

Gleason finished third and Dana Hills’ Jake Ogden finished fourth.

Santa Margarita’s Kaitlyn Merritt completed her illustrious high school career in the pole vault with her second state championship. The Stanford-bound senior matched Canyon’s Rachel Baxter with a clearance of 13 feet, 3 inches, winning the contest on total misses.

“It’s a bittersweet moment,” an emotional Merritt said. “To come out here and win a state title on not exactly my best day was awesome. I’m super sad to leave.”

Merritt was joined on the medal stand by teammate Kate Thomas, who finished third with a clearance of 12-9. McKenna Caskey (Mater Dei) placed fifth.

Marina’s Jett Gordon matched the meet-best mark of 15-9 in the boys pole vault, but Austin Laut (Oak Ridge) was perfect before the 16-3 bar to earn the victory.

In the 300 hurdles, San Juan Hills’ Connor Meech was bested by state leader Justin Collins (Carson). Hope Bender (Newport Harbor) could not recover from a slow start, as she finished eighth in the girls race.

The county trio of boys high jumpers continued to mirror each other’s performances in the state finals. Sean Lee (Trabuco Hills) and CJ McCord (Sage Hill) tied for second with jumps of 6-9. Cypress’ Quinten Pounds also cleared the same height, but placed fifth on total misses.

In the discus, Mater Dei’s Malik McMorris was displaced from the top spot on the state leaderboard. Charles Lenford of Oceanside unleashed a throw of 195-4 on his final attempt to take over the state lead. McMorris finished second, and Esperanza’s Bronson Osborn was third.

Osborn also delivered a lifetime-best of 61-9 in the shot put to place third.

Wesley Walsh (Canyon) and Katie Izzo (Los Alamitos) took fourth in their respective 3,200 races.

The Los Alamitos girls relay teams took seventh in the 400 and sixth in the 1,600.

Woodbridge placed seventh in the boys 1,600 relay, and Warriors senior Gabe Warner was fourth in the 400.

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