When it comes to putting relays together, injuries kept Jesuit sprint coach Rod Jett on edge all season.
He lost key relay sprint standouts Thomas Sperbeck (ankle) and Kaba Alkebulan (broken wrist) during the season, though Sperbeck continued to compete in other events.
Then on the eve of Friday's Sac-Joaquin Section Masters track and field championships at Elk Grove High School, Jett thought star junior Austin Mitsch might also be done.
Mitsch, the section leader in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, re-strained his groin running a blazing anchor leg in the 4x100 relay at Thursday's trials. He later qualified in the 100 meters but decided to scratch the 200, even though he's ranked No. 11 in California.
Uncertain how he'd hold up, Mitsch fought through the pain Friday to anchor the 4x100 relay team to a winning time of 42.18 seconds to qualify for the CIF State Championships on Friday and Saturday in Clovis.
Mitsch and fellow relay member Loren Pilorin then teamed to qualify for state in the 100, placing first (11.08) and third (11.32), respectively.
"Now I can finally breathe a little," Jett said.
Mitsch spent Friday icing his groin and wearing an electrical stimulation device to aid blood flow. He also received a chiropractic massage from Peter Grimes, a friend of Jett's, before the start of the meet. "He worked some magic," Mitsch said.
Mitsch said he strained his groin at the May 18 D-I section championships, then aggravated it during Thursday's relay. "It tightened up even more after the 100," he said. "That's when I figured I had to drop the 200, that it was best for my health."
Quipped Pilorin: "Good decision."
Pilorin, who will run track at Stanford in the fall, knows all about a troublesome groin. He missed nearly two years of track because of injury, returning to competition in mid-April.
"So to come back without doing any sprinting whatsoever and do this well is really surprising," Pilorin said.
In other area highlights:
Monterey Trail suffered a huge setback when girls section 100 and 200 leader Esther Higgwe collapsed with a leg injury 40 yards from the finish line of the 200. Higgwe earlier had won the girls 100 (12.32) and anchored the 4x100 girls relay team (47.56) to victories. Higgwe's teammate, A'Jah Love, won the 200 in 25.40.
McClatchy's Jordan Monteiro-Williams (22 feet, 10.25 inches) won the long jump and placed second in the boys 200 (22.41).
Del Oro's Casey Wheeler won the boys 300 hurdles (38.17), placed third in the boys 110 high hurdles (14.50) and was a member of the winning 4x400 relay team (3:19.71).
Rosemont's Nia Dorner, ranked No. 2 in California, repeated as the girls 400 champion (55.07).
Antelope's Robert Ellis won the boys 200 meters (22.01).
Ponderosa's Brittany Anselmo won the girls 800 (2:14.29) and teammate Sydney Blakely the girls pole vault (11-8).
In the distance races, Del Campo's Jordan Rushing won his second consecutive boys 1,600 (4:17.47), Vista del Lago's Madeleine Ankhelyi captured the girls 3,200 (10:40.54), and Monterey Trail's William Reyes won the boys 3,200 (9:19.77).