Like most high school coaches with a talented preseason roster, AJ Osborn thought she had a team capable of winning a CIF championship.
Despite all the obstacles, such as another surge of the coronavirus and injuries, Osborn’s Poway High girls track team managed to win a San Diego Section title.
Then, the Titans went off to the prom.
On Saturday, the Titans claimed the Division I crown with 88.5 team points to edge district rival Del Norte with 75 points with Rancho Bernardo and El Camino tied for third with 55 points.
“There was a moment Saturday where I thought I had it,’’ Osborn said. “I was underscoring my athletes just so I didn’t overestimate what was happening at the end.
“I thought way back before the season this would be a slam dunk. We had obstacles along the way, but we managed to land on the right foot.’’
The section’s top athletes advance to the two-day CIF State Championships, Friday and Saturday at Clovis Buchanan High.
Thanks mainly to her runners, Osborn started the finals off on the right foot and then just kept going.
By the time most of the field events results came in, Poway had built a big enough lead for the championship.
Senior Alyssa Bean had a championship-type day for the Titans.
Bean won both her individual races — 200-meter run (24.25 seconds) and 400 (54.96) — as well as running the anchor leg of both the 400 relay (49.03), which finished second to Carlsbad), and the winning 1,600 relay (3:49.93).
Sophomore Courtney Carpenter and seniors Indiana Langford and Claire Blanco ran the other legs of the 400 relay while Blanco, sophomore Tessa Buswell and Langford joined Bean in the 1,600 relay.
Poway senior Mackenzie Rogers won both the 1,600 in 4:48.75 and the 3,200 (10:26.92).
Rogers, however, will not run the 1,600 at the state so she can concentrate on the 3,200.
“Mackenzie ran so fast,’’ Osborn said. “We want to drop one and let her take her best shot at the 3,200.’’
Buswell captured the 800 (2:11.09) to go with her two relay races.
“We have a bunch of runners who have an ‘I don’t want to lose attitude’ on the track,’’ Osborn said. “That’s what you need at CIF Finals.’’
Poway also placed three athletes in the pole vault with junior Evangeline Thomson finishing third with a jump of 12-foot, 3-inches.
Junior teammates Avery Holland was fifth at 11-9 and Eleanor Raibert was ninth with a personal record 11-3.
Del Norte had senior Allison Leigh win the pole vault with a 12-9 to join senior Nicole Loy (shot put-discus) in the winner’s circle.
Loy won the shot put with a 37-3.5. She won the discus with a 121-4.
Rancho Bernardo junior Logan Shojgreen was third in the shot put with a 34-11.
Senior Lauren Medley of Del Norte was third in the 100 hurdles (15.28) while junior Hannah Riggins was second behind Rogers in the 1,600 with a time of 4:54.68 followed by teammates Emily Russo, a freshman, and sophomore Ella Echsner, who were fourth and fifth, respectively.
Riley Lankford of Rancho Bernardo won the long jump with a 17-8.5 with teammates Tayhlore Hoagland (16-1.5), a sophomore, sixth and junior Erin Huang eighth with a 16-1.
Charlotte O’Connor, a senior at Rancho Bernardo, was fourth in the pole vault with a 12-3.
On the boys side, Mission Hills won the Division I title with 83 points while Rancho Bernardo was fifth with 56.5 points, Poway was ninth with 28 points and Del Norte was 11th with 18 points.
Rancho Bernardo had a winner in the pole vault.
Matt Rydbeck went 14-11 followed by seniors Jaeden Correa (14-5) and Kamren Boyles (14-5) from Poway in second and third, respectively, with Rancho Bernardo sophomore Caden Lefever fifth at 13-5 with teammate Kaide Luna de la Fuente, a senior, sixth at 13-5.
Del Norte junior Danny Tragerz was second in the 300 hurdles (39.63), Rancho Bernardo junior John Chang was third in the high jump with a 6-2 and Poway junior Derek Kirschbaum at fourth in the 3,200 (9:27.99).