VALLEJO — The Vanden High gym is quickly filling up with championship track and field banners.
The Vikings varsity teams ran away with both the boys and girls Solano County Athletic Conference championships at Corbus Field, Friday, giving each squad a banner two years in a row.
The boys outpointed American Canyon 156-118.5, while Vallejo was third with 100.5 points. Fairfield was fifth with 25.
The Vanden girls netted 158 points, easily topping Vallejo’s 102. American Canyon was third with 100, while Fairfield was sixth with 22.
Vikings coach Larry Hogue was more than pleased with his team’s back-to-back championships.
“It’s a big (accomplishment),” the coach said. “They came into this year wanting to repeat. We had a nucleus of depth that came back from last year. And we had some sophomores we moved up this year that really helped us out. It’s rewarding. They put in a lot of good work and it all came out now at the end of the year.”
Anchoring the girls to the title were senior Alex Jenks and sophomore Malia Bryant.
Both won two individual events and then capped the night off by running a leg on the winning 4×400-meter relay team.
Jenks took the 1,600 in 5 minutes, 30.58 seconds and the 800 in 2:29.11, while Bryant won the 200 in 26.37 and the 400 in 57.66.
But it was the 4×400 relay – arguably the most exciting event on the track – that made the duo stand apart.
After Mikaila York ran the opening leg and Kiana Moore ran the second, the Vikings were solidly in second place, though they trailed Vallejo by about 30 meters.
Then Jenks got the baton for the third leg and before handing it to Bryant, Vanden had cut the lead to about 10 meters. Bryant wasn’t having any of her team losing, eventually passing Vallejo’s lead runner with just under 200 meters to go and pulled away, crossing the finish line in 4:05.80, nearly 30 meters ahead of the Apaches.
“I just had to speed up, pass for the lead and don’t let them catch me,” Bryant said. “I had to remember what my coach told me: ‘Pump my arms.’ I was trying to run fast to get us a good lane next week.’
“I love Malia. I’m so glad she came onto our team. She’s made our 4×4 a lot better. I can close up a gap and she’ll just finish it off. It makes it really fun.”
Tyler Koss won three events and Javin White won one and finished second in another to help the boys to the title. Koss ran a leg on the winning 4×100 relay (43.12), then won the 400 (48.54) and the 200 (22.81). White won the high jump (6-4) and was second the 100 high hurdles (16.03).
“It felt good,” Koss said after winning the 400. “I went out faster than I did in the prelims Wednesday and tried to hold on at the end. That first 200 I tried to go out as fast as I could. “I want to shoot for a high 47s (at the section meet) next week.”
Though his team as a whole didn’t fare well, Falcons coach James Macariola was happy with the way his athletes competed.
“I’m definitely satisfied, especially compared to these other teams,” the coach said. “David Monk built a really strong program here. When he left, the program took a big hit. But there’s a lot of talent and a lot of these kids, we have a lot of young talent. That’s what I’m excited about.”
Another winner for the Vanden boys was Isaiah Hamilton in the 100 (11.20), while Anthony Hopson just missed a victory in the boys shot put with an effort of 46-1. The winning throw was 46-2.
The other winner for the Vikings’ girls squad was freshman Julia Blackshell-Fair, who took the 100 in 12.99.
With a mix of young athletes and the seniors that are departing, Hogue is still looking to the future.
“(Malia) makes a lot of depth for us,” Hogue said. “She is a big boost for us because we have youth. She’s only a sophomore. And we have other sophomores that are running well, also. She’s been a big help for us.
“(Jenks) has been with us for four years and I’m going to miss them all (the seniors), but we’re coming back (next season) and hopefully do it again.”
Reach Brian Arnold at 427-6969 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/barnolddr.