The Petaluma High School girls track and field athletes did just exactly what they were supposed to do — and a little more — to win the Sonoma County League championship Saturday afternoon on the Piner High School track in Santa Rosa.
After going undefeated through the SCL dual season, the Trojan girls put an exclamation point on the league championship by winning the league meet with 158 points to 109 for runner-up El Molino. The leaders were followed by Sonoma Valley (72), Analy (52), Healdsburg (50), Piner (34) and Elsie Allen (4).
As Petaluma coach Doug Johnson had anticipated, Petaluma’s boys had just enough gaps in their lineup to allow El Molino to pull out the title with 159 points to 114 for the Trojans. Following were Piner (78), Healdsburg (52), Sonoma Valley (44), Analy (38) and Elsie Allen (8).
In addition to the team title, at stake was advancement to the North Coast Section Redwood Empire Championship Meet at Redwood High School in Larkspur, which went to the first six finishers in each event.
Johnson knew going into Saturday’s finals that the Petaluma girls were ready for a big meet.
“In all my years of coaching, I have never had the trials go so smoothly,” he said of Thursday’s qualifying meet. “Every girl did exactly what they were supposed to do. Today was almost as smooth.”
The meet started spectacularly for the Trojan girls as the 4x100 relay team of Payton Draper, Sydney Dennis, Camille Leoni and Courtney Bell set what is believed to be a school record while winning in 51.89 seconds, close to four seconds ahead of Sonoma Valley.
The relay win was the start of a spectacular day for freshman Bell, who won both sprints, timing 13.29 in the 100 and 27.43 in the 200.
Senior Leoni, dubbed “Jim Thorpe” by Johnson for her ability to shine at many different events, was third in the 100 in 13.45; second to teammate Dennis in the long jump with a leap of 15 feet, 10 inches; and won the triple jump at 29-8, ahead of Draper, second at 29-1 and Annika Schmid, third at 29-1. Dennis’ winning long jump was an outstanding 16-11.
Petaluma’s most inspirational win of the day came in the shot, where senior Clare Pierce, in just her second meet after returning from a serious head injury suffered in a Go-Kart accident, won at 34-9. Teammate Alex Urton also qualified for advancement, finishing fourth in 28-4. Pearce was sixth in the discus at 93-0.
Petaluma’s Erika Gilmore and Sallie Hollingshead were the only pole vaulters to clear 9 feet, with Gilmore winning at 9-3 and Hollingshead second at 9-0.
Petaluma qualified two runners in the 400 — Helena Abbott, fifth in 1:06.26 and Gilmore, sixth in 1:04.26.
Sophomore Camille Flynn and senior Sophie Hospodar led Petaluma in the distance events.
Flynn was third in the 800 in 2 minutes, 30.87 seconds and fourth in the 1600 in 5:30.41. Hospodar was fifth in the 1600 in 5:36.29 and second in the 3200 in 12:06.00. Petaluma freshman Lucie Ellis had a strong race in the 3200, finishing third in 13:10.2. Petaluma’s May Murikami-Smith qualified for advancement with a sixth in the 800 in 2:43.96.
Dennis ran second to El Molino’s Aubriana Tait in both hurdles, with the Lion standout timed in 16.59 to Dennis’ 17.21 and 47.32 to 49.67 for the Trojan in the 300s.