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  • Jose Luis Villegas / jvillegas@sacbee.com

    Austin Mitsch, left, of Jesuit High School, is challenged by Robert Ellis, of Antelope, as they approach the finish line in the Boys 100 Meter Dash during the Masters Track Meet on Friday afternoon, May 24, 2013 at Elk Grove High School in Elk Grove, California.

  • Jose Luis Villegas / jvillegas@sacbee.com

    Austin Mitsch, left, of Jesuit High School, is embraced by Robert Ellis, of Antelope, after finishing first and second in the Boys 100 Meter Dash during the Masters Track Meet on Friday afternoon, May 24, 2013 at Elk Grove High School in Elk Grove, California.

  • Jose Luis Villegas / jvillegas@sacbee.com

    Austin Mitsch, left, of Jesuit High School, finishes first with a time of 10.76, ahead of Robert Ellis, of Antelope, 10.82, as they cross the finish line in the Boys 100 Meter Dash during the Masters Track Meet on Friday afternoon, May 24, 2013 at Elk Grove High School in Elk Grove, California.

Prep track notes: Area sprinters to face tough field at state meet

Published: Thursday, May. 30, 2013 - 6:31 pm
Last Modified: Thursday, May. 30, 2013 - 11:53 pm

The Southern California sprint field is so deep and talented that the primary goals for Jesuit's Austin Mitsch and Antelope's Robert Ellis are to make Saturday's finals of the 95th CIF State Track and Field Championships that start Friday in Clovis.

Then it's a matter of seeing what happens.

The duo won't face the pressure that's on Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks' Khalfani Muhammad, the favorite in the 100 and 200 meters.

Muhammad, a senior, won the 100 at the Southern Section Masters meet last weekend in 10.22 seconds - .03 seconds faster than the California record - but a plus 2.1-meters-per-second wind reading (2.0 is legal) kept it from breaking the record.

Still, Muhammad, who has signed to play football at Cal, has the fastest officially recognized 100 (10.46) and 200 (20.73) times in California this year.

Mitsch has a good shot at reaching the 100 final. Though he got off to a horrible start in last Friday's Sac-Joaquin Section Masters final, the senior rallied to win, albeit in a disappointing 10.76.

Mitsch's 10.63 time at the section Division I finals May 17 is seventh best in California this year.

Ellis beat Mitsch in the Masters 200 with a personal-best 21.32, fifth fastest in the state (Mitsch has the ninth-fastest time).

Only four area sprinters have won a 100 boys state title, the last being Sacramento's Jim McGee (10.52) in 1996. Cordova's Kevin Willhite is the area's only 200 state champion, winning with a 20.81 in 1981.

Ellis knows a lot about area sprint history.

Robert Ellis II, his father, won the Masters 400 in 1985 at Highlands. He also competed in three state finals.

"After a meet, before a meet, we're always talking about track," Ellis III said. "We talk about how good Austin is and how tough it is to beat him.

"Now that I have defended my section title, got my PR, and I'm ranked fifth in the state, I'm pretty excited for what's ahead."

Ellis' class, like that of many participants in the state meet, is graduating Friday (or Saturday).

"I'm sad I will miss walking, but I won't get this opportunity ever again," Ellis said.

Moving up - Oak Ridge junior Jacob Sipes, in his first season running the 300 intermediate hurdles, won the section D-I title in 37.77 seconds, seventh fastest in the state this year. And last Friday, he landed the third and final state qualifying spot at the Masters finals with a 38.79.

Not bad for a once-reluctant hurdler.

Sipes, 6-foot-3, tried the hurdles last year in a mock meet and fell flat on his face.

"I told myself, 'I'm never going to do this again,' " he said.

Sipes focused on the 400, but he soon realized his limitations.

"I knew I'd have to do something pretty spectacular to keep advancing," he said. "I looked at the hurdles' times and felt I could compete there."

And it helps that David Sipes, his father and coach, is a former high school and college hurdler.

With versatile skills - he punted, defended, passed and caught passes for 12-2 Oak Ridge last fall - Sipes is getting recruiting looks in football. He'll focus on playing quarterback for the Trojans this season.

Now, though, there's the potential of landing a track scholarship, too.

"Track has always been a big deal, but now that I'm getting more competitive with the top hurdlers in the state, it's definitely something I'd consider," he said.

Sipes said his vast improvement has surprised him. He improved his personal best by nearly a second in his D-I victory.

"When I crossed the finish line, I thought there was an error," Sipes said. "A .8-second PR is huge in this event."

Can he cash in? - In the boys 1,600 preliminary Friday, Granite Bay's Trent Brendel will run for glory - and money.

There are no cash prizes for reaching the final, but a strong effort could lead to some additional scholarship money from Cal, where the senior will run in the fall.

"Right now, I have book money, but (Cal) has let me know that if I keep improving and run competitively at state, they may give me more," Brendel said after winning at the Masters meet. "Anything I can do to help my parents ... "

Brendel won in a personal-best 4 minutes, 13.94 seconds, using a strong kick in the final 200 meters. He credits rest for helping him move into the top 22 in the state.

He spent most of the late spring focused on a heavy load of Advanced Placement finals.

"My wheels have been failing me because I haven't been getting enough rest," said Brendel, who competed in the 3,200 at last year's state meet. "But this race, I felt strong."

If Brendel makes the 12-man final, he'll miss his Granite Bay graduation.

"I've got my fingers crossed," Brendel said. "I want to miss that graduation."

Call The Bee's Bill Paterson, (916) 326-5506.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Bill Paterson



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