Petaluma High School's track athletes responded to the Sonoma County League track championship challenge in a big way Saturday. Running at Elsie Allen high school in Santa Rosa, the Trojan boys received exceptional efforts from everyone from their stars to their support athletes to win the meet, scoring 111 points to 94 for runner-up Piner.
Petaluma had run through the regular dual and tri-meet competition undefeated, but coach Doug Johnson knew the Trojans would face stiff competition from Piner, and would need exceptional efforts to avoid sharing the league pennant with the talent-ladden Prospectors. They got what they needed.
"It was close, but we took care of business. The kids did a great job," Johnson said.
Saturday's league championship was mostly about team, although individuals were also competing to be among the top six that qualify for the North Coast Section Area meet to be held Saturday at Santa Rosa High School, with field events starting at 9 a.m. and running events at 10 a.m. That meet, featuring top competitors from the Humboldt Del Norte, Marin County Athletic, North Bay and Sonoma County leagues and Coastal Mountain Conference, will be more focused on individuals as they battle for spots in the following week's North Coast Section Tournament of Champions meet in Berkeley.
"This was for Petaluma pride for me," said Trojan distance standout Ryan Douglas. "We have won every year since I was a freshman. We wanted to win for the team."
Douglas certainly did his share. Despite battling a cold, he ran a distance ironman meet, winning the 800 in 1:57.53, the 1600 in 4:20.88, and still finding the fortitude to finish second to Piner's Jamie Silva in the 3200 in 9:18.16. He would have come right back in the 4x400 relay if the Trojans had not already clinched the team title.
Even without Douglas, the Petaluma relay team of Kevin Poteracke, JP Crudo, Ty Pearson and Duncan Gardner finished the meet in style, running an impressive second to Healdsburg's speed-loaded quartet, with the Trojans timed in 3:34.81.
The Petaluma 4x100 team of Crudo, Sam Spurling, Keanon Kron and Pearson also finished third, running 45.22.
Teddy Scranton, another of the Petaluma season-long leaders, was at his best in the league meet, winning both the shot at 48-04, six feet further than runner-up Kasey Mancini of El Molino, and the discus at 153-05, 21 feet further and Mancini. He displayed his all-around athletic ability by finishing fourth in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes.
Scranton and Douglas were the only winners for the Trojans, who built their championship on strong performances from a number of athletes, who gave an extra effort to move up a place here and there, grabbing enough points to hold off Piner.
Typical of the Petaluma efforts was a third-place finish by Poteracke in the gruelling 300-meter hurdles. An outstanding distance runner, Poteracke was forced by asthma to turn to shorter runs, and successfully converted to the hurdles just this season. His third-place finish was an important point-boost to the Petaluma cause.
Kron was also a valuable point earner for Petaluma, taking second in both the triple jump at 39-5 1/2, and third in the long jump at 19-5.
Petaluma's young girls team, despite missing several key performers with injuries, still finished second to Healdsburg's speedy Lady Greyhounds. Healdsburg's girls totaled 158 points to 124 for the Lady Trojans.