ATASCADERO — Shifting the high school track and field season into another gear, the Atascadero High School Memorial Track and Field Meet brought 17 teams together on Saturday at AHS, and Paso Robles emerged as the winner in both the boys and girls divisions.
On the girls’ side, Atascadero battled with Paso Robles event for event, and landed second place.
AHS senior Brittney McKinley led the Greyhounds with a win in her signature event, the 100-meter dash and as the anchor leg of the 4x100 relay.
McKinley enters the season as the two-time defending PAC 8 League champion in the 100, and was off to a good start defending her title for a third time.
McKinley won the solo race with a time of 13.19 seconds. She will be challenged this season by a pair of PAC 8 rivals — Mission Prep junior Paige Baxstresser (13.03) and Paso Robles junior Kiara Mabien (13.31), who took second and third, respectively, behind McKinley.
The week prior, the Hounds’ 4x100 relay took third (51.86) at the Paso Robles Bearcat Relays, but the quartet of McKinley, Abby Richey, Beth Andrade, and Talia Johnson improved their time to win at home in 51.45.
The third first-place finish for the Greyhounds’ girls came from senior long-distance leader Ellie Nisbet, who dominated the field, cruising to a 5:17.30 win in the 1600-meter run. A pair of San Luis Obispo runners came in behind Nisbet, with the closest runner more than :07 behind.
On the boys side, Atascadero runners fell shy of a first-place finish, although AHS senior Tegan Fleishman gave it a strong shot in the 1600.
Fleishman lost only to distance phenom Callum Bolger of San Luis Obispo High School, who finished the race in 4:22.35.
Fleishman came in behind Bolger, with a personal best of 4:26.92. AHS sophomore Xavier Gonzales battled out down the stretch with Arroyo Grande senior Jayson Maule, but finished fourth with a 4:36.64, just a few micro-ticks behind Maule (4:36.52).
AHS sophomore Kyle Spurgeon showed some promise for the future of Atascadero hurdles. Spurgeon finished second in the 110 hurdles, with a time of 18.49, and fourth in the 300 hurdles, with a time of 47.18.
Spurgeon led a pack of Greyhounds in the 110s, with freshman Wyatt Hasch (18.66) and sophomore Seth Fingerson (18.67) following him in with third- and fourth-place finishes, respectively, and the event may become one of the competitive highlights for Atascadero in the coming years.
Following a couple of years where the likes of AHS alum Sarah Stafford and Brianna Villanueva led the Greyhounds’ throwers to CIF, the team is lacking the mass of power those two brought each meet — but senior Sabrina VanBeek held her own with a fifth-place finish in the discus with a personal best of 98 feet, 01 inches, 14 inches shy of the next-farthest throw from a PAC 8 athlete.
Richey took time off the track to fly for third place in the long jump with a distance of 15-05.25. On the boys’ side, sophomore Hunter Allen flew to third in the high jump with a clearance of 5-08, with PRHS junior Cade England taking second with the same jump, and behind Righetti sophomore Ivan Perkins (6-0).
The season looks to be a strategic endeavor for a young Atascadero team against a PAC 8 League swimming with talent. That means many athletes will focus on a smaller schedule of events in order to advance athletes to CIF.
“San Luis Obispo has about 200 kids on their team,” AHS distance coach Roger Warnes said. “With that many kids, we have to be very specific about what events the kids run.”
The PAC 8 teams return to AHS today for a Fully Automated Timing meet at 3:30 p.m.