The Dublin Distance Fiesta in Alameda County on Saturday was already a marquee event before the 3,200-meter run.
And then the place sizzled.
In a duel between defending CIF State champions, Matt Strangio of Jesuit High School beat Liam Anderson of Redwood of Larkspur in the fastest 8-lap prep race in the country this season.
Strangio, the CIF state winner in the 3,200 last June in Clovis, won in a national-leading time of 8 minutes, 47.97 seconds. Anderson, a senior, was second in 8:56.88, which would have been the best time in the land had Strangio stayed home.
Anderson was the state champion in the 1,600 last season. Strangio is a junior. More showdowns loom.
Strangio also won the CIF State cross country championship in the fall, barreling through a muddy trail and stiff competition.
The Dublin Distance Fiesta is deemed the largest prep distance showcase in the country, an event that included 118 schools and 2,633 athletes. The top two in each event earned invitations to the Arcadia Invitational on April 5-6.
Strangio has the state’s fastest 1,600 time of 4:14.45, from March 2 at the Sacramento State High School Classic in blustery, wet conditions. He is the Northern California leader in the 800 in 1:55.11 (teammate Chase Gordon is second with a best of 1:55.58).
Strangio dazzled in the 100th CIF state meet in June, entering the event as a question mark but also as a runner of great promise. He labored through ankle injuries earlier that season and recorded a best of 9:00.20 in the Arcadia Invitational. Strangio is motivated by Jesuit distance coaching great Walt Lange, who mentored some of the greatest distance runners in regional history, including twins Eric and Mark Mastalir, Michael Stember, Paul Thomas and Matt Farley.
Staying on track
Zach Larrier of Monterey Trail clocked the state’s fastest 400-meter time of the early season with his 48.06-second effort to win the Husky Invitational at Sheldon. Larrier is a three-sport star in an era in which that just doesn’t happen. He quarterbacked the football team to a 12-1 record and was a key cog for the basketball team.
Jeffrey Lange of Casa Roble is the state leader in the javelin with a 100-feet, 1-inch throw.
New No. 1 in softball
Del Oro is the new No. 1-ranked softball team by The Bee, though the Golden Eagles have been this high before. Sierra Foothill League rival Rocklin is No. 2 at 5-0.
And perfect timing as the programs meet Tuesday.
Del Oro, under coach Sean Erickson, is 6-0 with wins over St. Francis (11-0), Reed of Nevada (4-0), Lowery of Nevada (14-0), Lincoln (9-3), Whitney (6-3 and Oak Ridge (20-5). Whitney beat Bee preseason No. 1 Sheldon 4-3 on March 1.
Del Oro has a team batting average of .333, and Amanda DuPriest and Katelyn Oldwin have combined for an ERA of 1.17. Sophomore Maddie Moore is batting .481.
Rocklin is 5-0 behind pitcher Brooke Thompson and catcher Jayla Castro. Thompson has an 0.48 ERA.
Baseball finally kicks off
In between storms, area baseball teams finally got in some innings.
Franklin remains top-ranked by The Bee at 3-1 with a 2-0 loss to Buchanan of Clovis and wins of 11-5 over Clovis, 15-5 over Rocklin and 5-2 over Oak Ridge. Delta League action starts Monday with a three-game set against Delta newcomer Cosumnes Oaks.
No. 4 Elk Grove is 0-2 in facing powerhouse programs Redwood of Visalia (a 7-4 loss) and Valley Christian of San Jose (an 8-6 setback). No. 5 Jesuit has losses to powers De La Salle (17-0) and St. Mary’s (5-2).
No. 2 Oakmont is 8-0 under veteran coach Paul Martinez, with a prolific offense and a strong pitching staff and defense. Wins include Woodcreek (8-0), Placer (6-1), Capital Christian (6-1), Del Campo (11-0) and Roseville (11-0).
Andrew Paolini is batting .556 with 10 RBI for Oakmont, and Bryce Sidler has a .529 average and nine RBI and is 2-0 on the mound with an 0.95 ERA. Kai Peterson is 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA in 13.1 innings of work over four games, including 19 strikeouts.
Saco Awards at Kings game
The fifth annual Pete Saco Awards will be presented Thursday at Golden 1 Center at halftime of the Kings home game against Dallas.
Named after longtime Sac-Joaquin Section commissioner Pete Saco, since retired from that office, the Kings and the Kings Foundation recognize one team, one coach and one individual that exemplify sportsmanship, leadership and achievement.
The player is Justin Nguyen of Sheldon basketball as the senior was a catalyst for the two-time CIF Northern California Open Division champion.
The team is the Union Mine girls basketball team that made state history in becoming the only No. 16 seed to reach a regional final, doing so in Division III under coach Scott Gilliland and star players Alli McDonald and Carley Zaragoza.
The coach is Josh Williams of Liberty Ranch as this is more of career award.
Williams is stepping aside after seven successful seasons as boys basketball coach to catch his breath and to spend time with his young family. In his tenure at the Galt school, Williams won 174 games, third most in the section in that stretch for public schools, and reached the section finals three times with six NorCal playoff teams.
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