Mavericks finish strong season with fun-filled appearance at state

With a group of seven La Costa Canyon athletes competing at the CIF State Track & Field meet June 3-4 at Buchanan High in Clovis, including one in senior Kyle Brown taking a third-place finish in the pole vault, coach Bob Sisler’s favorite memory didn’t happen anywhere near the track.

“They ended up going to the mall one day and pitched in to buy a build-a-bear dog and donated it to be our team mascot,” Sisler said. “Now, that will be with us for years to come.

“Taking this group of seven to state was good, they are a fun bunch.”

And while Brown’s mind also wandered to the social aspect of the trip — “It was a fun experience going up with the team, traveling and bonding with everyone” — his second straight trip to the California finals was a successful one by most accounts.

Already holding a San Diego Section championship (Brown jumped 16-04 to clinch that title on May 28) and the school record of 16-05, the senior standout cleared 15-08 in Clovis.

An ultra-competitive athlete who will take a year off, then compete in college starting in the fall of 2017, Brown was disappointed to miss a state title, but admitted that his goal before the season was to clear 16 feet.

“I did that in the first meet of the season, which was kind of a surprise, so everything else was just icing on the cake,” Brown explained.”

He was joined at the CIF Finals by sister McKenna Brown, the section champion in the 1,600 meters (4:58.92), as well as her counterpart Bryan Johnson, a Mavericks senior who took the SDS boys 1,600 crown in 4:18.71.

McKenna Brown battled late-season sickness to finish 17th in the state by crossing in 5:03.32 in the preliminary heat.

“Coming into the season, my main goal was to go to state. It was such a cool experience,” said the sophomore speedster. “I’m so glad I got the opportunity to do it and I think I’ll be even more prepared for next year.”

Johnson, who also missed time with illness earlier in the season, took 24th (4:17.53) at Buchanan High.

The other four LCC representatives were sprinters, as seniors Michelle Gould and Makaila Eddington, sophomore Kendall Nicholas and freshman Taylor Fardig used a school-record 48.51 (second place) in the 4x100 relay at the section meet to qualify for the state championships.

“It was all really exciting because they announced our time on the speaker and we realized that we got our school record,” Nicholas said. “That’s what we’ve been striving for all season is to break that record, and then we also get the chance to go to state.”

This early taste of success should pay big dividends for youngsters like Nicholas and Fardig, who Gould said are the reason that the Mavericks have a bright future.

“It was a lot different from middle school, it was a lot harder and pushed me to be a lot better,” Fardig explained of her ninth-grade season. “Overall it was a great experience for me to be able to bond with people who are older than me and were able to pass on techniques to me.”

With such a strong mix of talented young athletes and skilled veterans, it’s no wonder this season exceeded Sisler’s expectations. In addition to the good representation at the state meet and the impressive individual accomplishments at the section championships, the LCC girls dominated the regular season.

“We always have some very high expectations, but to see the girls go undefeated and win league, was fantastic,” Sisler said. “The girls really put out some good efforts when they needed to … they really put it on the line and made it happen.

“The guys don’t have quite the depth that the girls side has, but we have some tremendous individuals.”

Gould, a workhorse who finished in the top six in two individual races and ninth in the 4x400 relay in addition to keying the sizzling 4x100 quartet at the section meet, will run track at Colorado State next season.

“She’s been that way ever since her freshman year. This girl’s got something special,” Sisler said. “She makes those relay teams better — she can really run the turn like nobody else — and that’s why that team went to state. She added a sort of a glue too, with her maturity and care about everyone else on the team.”

Gould ran a 57.49 in the 400 meters and a 25.61 in the 200, and teamed with McKenna Brown, Sarah Abramson and freshman Jessica Riedman to take ninth in the 4x400 (4.11.92).

“I had high marks that I was hoping for,” Gould said of her individual races. “I was injured all last season, so ending up fourth overall for the 400 and sixth in the 200, I’m really happy with that.”

At the CIF Finals, Gould and her 4x400 relay crew crossed in 21st, posted a time of 49.61 and generally had a ball.

“Our main focus at the state meet was having fun. We went in with the idea that we had nothing to lose and just wanted to enjoy ourselves,” Eddington explained. “It was cool for us to be able to run against super good teams and just really exciting to be a part of that.”

Notes: La Costa Canyon sent four athletes — including Kyle Brown — to the 2015 state championships. Three other Mavericks had exceptional section-meet performances but came up just short of qualifying for the CIF Finals. Junior Teigen O’Donnell was fourth in the 100 hurdles (15.33 seconds), while freshman Kristin Fahy matched that finish with a 10:51.74 in the 3,2000 and Riedman took fifth in the 800 (2:16.40).

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