Always one of the prominent early season track & field events on the high school calendar, the Saturday, March 23, 40th annual Asics/Mt. Carmel Invitational added to its reputation, hosting most of the section’s top performers along with a strong collection of Los Angeles and Orange County prep standouts.
In many events, it marked the first significant gathering of top flight competition and personal bests were the order of the day. North Coast representatives turned in a series of impressive performances including wins by still-improving Canyon Crest junior Carlie Dorostkar in the girls’ 3200 m. (10:36.53) and the Torrey Pines boys 4x800 relay unit of AJ Castellanos, Sebastian Barclay, Cormac O’Brien and Alak Fryt.
Dorostkar, already a seasoned vet at this level, is the reigning CIF D-1 champion in 3200 as well as the 2018 D-1 cross country champ. Despite running solitary from the outset and missing the presence her prime rival Kristin Fahy of La Costa Canyon, she laid down a notable albeit workmanlike race.
“I did what I wanted to do today, would have liked to have hit 10:35 but I’m happy with it,” said Dorostkar afterward. “I don’t have a problem running by myself, I can push myself pretty well, but it would have been even better with someone else out there.
“This was my first time in an invitational-type of race environment this season and I’m pleased with where I am. I’d like to make it to the State Meet this year. I know I can.”
Perhaps the most exciting race of the day was the boys’ 1600. After building a sizeable lead, Mission Hills senior Jonathan Velasco was caught in the final strides by Crawford senior Nadir Ali. The winner was clocked in 4:17.82, less than a tenth-of-a-second in front of Velasco.
While that match-up may have produced the singular moment, the best volume quality package came in the boys’ pole vault where 14 different athletes cleared 14-2, three from North Coast schools. Rancho Bernardo senior Jacob Rice captured the event at 15-8, but La Costa Canyon sophomore Garrett Brown (brother of last year’s girls’ 1600m. winner McKenna Brown) soared to a p.r. 15-2 to notch third, San Marcos junior Zack Volpe went 14-8 (6th) and senior Cameron Zamora of San Dieguito cleared 14-2, tying for 12th.
On the whole, the day was about confirming what was being developed in training and maybe benchmarking or re-setting expectations for the remainder of the season. Senior Kamon Stewart of Canyon Crest, last year’s Avocado West kingpin in the 300 m. hurdles, didn’t reach the 2018 CIF Finals, a situation he’s keen to rectify this spring. Taking charge from the gun while still showing there’s room to improve, he ran away with his heat Saturday in a p.r. of 39.37.
“That felt good—I was expecting a p.r. today and hoping to get 38 but I’ll take 39,” said Stewart, whose goals extend past just getting to the CIF final in his specialty. “I want to place in the top three at CIF, looking to go to State.”
Another local who’s aiming higher is emerging Torrey sophomore middle distance standout Barclay. After helping the Falcons to their relay win early in the day, he used a nice closing drive to record a p.r. of 1:59.39 while winning his heat in the 800 m. That’s robust performances in back-to-back weeks, marking him as someone to watch.
“After running the 4x800, I had planned to scratch out of the 800 but just decided to push it and see what I could do,” said Barclay. “I just figured I would get to the 200 mark and then go as fast as I could and that’s what I did. develop
“I’d like to make State, maybe win CIF but really, I just want to do well—my goal is to get 1:54.”
Another sophomore, La Costa Canyon hurdler Tyler Holl nailed p.r.s in two races, winning his 110 heat in 15.13 and registering a time of 41.95 while grabbing second in the 300. His objectives remain simple as did his explanation for his progress.
“Two p.r.s, it was a good day, but it’s really just about getting better all the time, that’s my goal,” said Holl. “I feel like my improvement this year about getting in the zone.
“I don’t feel any stronger than last year but I just feel more comfortable. I’m not sure where I’ll be at the end of the year but I’ll just be trying to go as far as possible.”
Below are some images from Saturday’s meet at Mt. Carmel.