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CHS track setting records in winning season

It had been a long day of top competition Saturday evening in Cerritos as teams of four boys took to the starting line. Conditions were perfect for a personal best—cool temperatures and no wind—as some of the best local high school distance runners prepared for the 4 x 1600 meter relay.

Seventeen minutes and 26 seconds later, four Claremont boys—senior Sergio Espinoza, junior Owen Bishop, senior Tab Backman and junior Ryan Renken—crossed the finish line in first place, shattering the Claremont High School record by 24 seconds and setting the fourth fastest time nationwide for 2016.

Something was definitely in the air during this year’s Mt. SAC Relays, which were held at Cerritos College due to extensive remodeling of the athletic field at Mt. SAC.

On Friday, junior Annie Boos continued her dominance with a new school record of 4:56:86 in the mile, which was fast enough for fourth place in the prestigious Brooks Invitational competition. She is the first female athlete in CHS history to break the five-minute mark in the mile, which is about 30 feet longer than the 1600-meter race.

Renken also broke a school record in the mile with a time of 4:15:97.

Considered one of the premier meets in the United States, the relays have divisions for high school and collegiate athletes, which also includes endorsed and international teams.

“It was a pretty exciting Saturday,” said Claremont distance coach Bill Reeves. “Good weather, great competition and a good track lead to PRs [personal records]”

Claremont was back at it Tuesday in a league meet against a very tough Glendora team.

The boys were able to get a pretty comfortable win of 83-53. The girls narrowly lost, 69-67.

While waiting for the 800-meter race to begin on Tuesday, Boos spoke briefly about her big weekend.

“I was seeded to get last place so I was nervous about that, but when I started I told myself to keep going and I ended up getting fourth,” said Boos.

“I’m doing more mileage than last year, so I think it [the record] had to do with fitness as well as mental strength,” she said. “I’m hoping to get to the state championships this year for the mile.”

The boy’s success in the 4 x 1600 may have been unexpected even for the runners themselves. “The last time we did it as a group we ran a 17:59 so to run a 17:26 was a bit of a surprise,” said Renken on Tuesday.

Asked about what made the difference, the boys echoed the remarks of Coach Reeves.

“Confidence and environment” were the key factors according to Renken. “It was eight at night and you know it will be a fast race. You have people right behind that can get you if you are not staying focused. So we were all ready to run faster,” he said.

“There is the Arcadia [meet] and then the next week is Mt. SAC and that is what you are training for until CIF,” Renken said.

The Pack has a couple more league meets and then will head off to the Palomares League prelims and finals.

 

Wolfpack boys tennis holds undefeated season

Claremont boys tennis’ number one singles player Andrew Leahy rarely loses a match. In fact, he has only lost once this year, to Diamond Bar’s Neil Tengbumroong, who has been a rival for years.

But on Monday, Leahy got his revenge, soundly defeating Tengbumroong, 6-2, and to make the victory all the sweeter the Pack’s number two player Leyton Bohren also defeated Tengbumroong, 6-1.

“That was quite a relief actually,” said Leahy on Tuesday as the Pack took on Ayala in Claremont.

Tennis is having one amazing season and they piled on the victories in the last week beating Bonita, 17-1, last Thursday; Diamond Bar, 10-8, on Monday; and Ayala, 16-2. The Pack is now 8-0 in the Palomares League and look very tough to beat for the remainder of the regular season.

“We played some great singles, Christian [Settles] went 3-0, which he has not done yet this year, doubles swept all nine matches,” said Coach Kathy Settles following the Bonita match.

“We should go into CIF as the number one school but it [the tournament] is filled with teams just like us so we just need to continue to be tough,” she said. “We are going to continue to work on conditioning and the mental part of the game is really important.”

Leahy was out four months with a back injury partly brought on by not stretching properly. Since then he has been gaining strength and getting back into form.

He has a strong forehand with lots of racquet velocity, but his serve really sets him apart. “When I am down a few points, I rely on my serve to come back and build confidence,” he said.

Claremont has two sets of twins, and they all play doubles but not with their siblings. The number one pair, freshman Jason Weisman and junior Hunter Bojalad, had a pretty easy time winning, 6-2, against Bonita’s Andre Batoon and Eric Zhong.

“We have good chemistry and play well together,” according to Bojalad. He also said that they are hitting their stride at this point in the season.

To get ready for CIF, Coach Settles has scheduled a match against Troy High School so they boys can compete against a completely new opponent.

“They are going to see a lot of competition they have never seen before and that will test them to see where they are,” she said.

—Steven Felschundneff

steven@claremont-courier.com