There were distinctly different looks to last weekend's league track meets. This is the first time in many years I have watched the North Bay League meet. In the past, with Casa Grande and Petaluma both in the Sonoma County League, I concentrated my attention on the Sonoma County League meet. This year, with Casa moving to the NBL, I had an excuse to attend both meets, and the leagues were kind enough to schedule the meets on different days, although I doubt it was for my benefit.

There were outstanding performances at both meets as the best of the North Bay's athletes competed not only for team pennants, but also for the right to move on to this Saturday's North Coast Section area meet to be held at Santa Rosa High School, Both meets were extremely well run, with both pretty much on schedule. Both were held on excellent tracks with good facilities.

But there were some differences.

The NBL meet at Rancho Cotate High School on Friday was as a twilight turned to night event, with running events starting at 5 p.m., while the SCL meet at Elsie Allen High School in Santa Rosa, began running at 10 a.m. on Saturday. The night meet kept the athletes from having to endure the blistering sun that can bake area runners this time of year. Last year's SCL meet at Windsor, run during the day on a Saturday, left spectators with burned faces and athletes with exhausted bodies.

The biggest difference was that the NBL ran both junior varsity and varsity finals on the same day, while the SCL had already taken care of its junior varsity meet before Saturday's varsity finals. The result was an ultra-long NBL meet, while the SCL event was "Bang! Bang! Bring on the next event." In fact, the SCL meet was run so quickly that it had to be delayed at times to keep to its schedule. By 1 p.m., well before the afternoon heat had really arrived, it was over.

Personally, I like the idea of a varsity-only meet, although it puts an extra burden on the host school and all the participating coaches, who have to hold two complete meets, rather than one, and the organization and effort required to put together just one meet is difficult enough. For the SCL, it meant three straight days of track, with trials on Thursday, the JV meet Friday and the main event Saturday. The entire league did an excellent job.

It won't always be this way, but the SCL meet this year had more team excitement. Maria Carrillo's juggernaut boys team was an overwhelming favorite going into the NBL championships and just as overwhelming on the track. No one else had a chance. Maria Carrillo has some impressive girls, but this year, Santa Rosa had too much talent. Incidentally, Santa Rosa has one of its most talented group of girl athletes in all sports than it has had in years. It is nice to see the historic (read that old) school enjoy some athletic success.

Incidentally, for those who are waiting for Maria Carrillo's boys to topple, don't hold your breath. The Carrillo junior varsity scored 230 points at the NBL meet to 66 for runner-up Rancho Cotate.

By contrast, the SCL meet was team exciting. I paid more attention to the SCL pennant battle because Petaluma was on of the teams involved, but it was fun to watch the strategy as the Trojan boys battled Piner in a meet where every fourth, fifth and sixth place was important. Extra efforts counted as Petaluma earned the championship with just 17 points to spare.

From here on out, it is personal. The goal of every elite track athlete is the state meet, and now there are just two more steps to Valhalla. Look for athletes to pair down to their one or two best events Saturday in the North Coast Section Area meet at Santa Rosa High School. Good efforts there move them to the North Coast Section Meet of Champions — a major accomplishment in itself. From there, it takes the performance of a lifetime to reach a runner's (or a jumper's or a thrower's) ultimate goal.

(Contact John Jackson at johnie.jackson@arguscomrier.com)