Merced High School senior Daniel Ambriz, hood pulled low over his head, sought protection from the drizzle.
He chatted with friends as he tried to make sense of Friday’s events at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I Track & Field Championship. The camaraderie probably didn’t help.
“Weird day,” he assessed.
Ambriz was positioned for an ideal springboard to the Section Masters on May 26-27. He entered the D-I meet ranked second in the 800 meters and third in what he considers his best event, the 1,600.
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Instead, he was disqualified from the 1,600 after a bizarre incident in the race’s final strides. Later, he jogged through the 800 in eighth place just to extend his season.
“I’ll concentrate on the 800,” Ambriz said. “The winner (Derek Parker of Woodcreek-Roseville) ran a 1:53, which is my PR, and that was a month ago. I’ll be ready.”
Ambriz went out strong in the 1,600 and led the first two laps before he fell back to fifth. Rallying in the final 200 meters, he dueled with Davis-Yolo’s Nick Borowsky for fourth place with about 20 meters left when Borowsky – running just off Ambriz’s right shoulder – fell.
Officials ruled that Ambriz interfered, resulting in the DQ. Luis Grijalva of Armijo-Fairfield won. Borowsky, who returned to his feet, finished sixth.
10.95 Time in the 100 meters for Merced’s Ashanti McFarland for third place
“I don’t know what happened. He was pushing me, and he tripped. I was just trying to get ahead of him,” Ambriz said. “I ran the 800 Wednesday (in the preliminary heats) just in case something like this happened.”
The episode seemed in rhythm with the strange weather swirling above Elk Grove High School. Ominous clouds hovered over the northern sky but produced nothing more than a mid-meet drizzle. Officials reversed the sprints south-to-north but couldn’t avoid a slight headwind.
The top eight finishers in each event, plus the top four in consolation, qualified for Masters at Elk Grove.
Merced senior Ashanti McFarland pushed the leaders en route to thirds in the 100 (10.95) and 200 (22.0). Golden Valley junior Shawn Bettencourt also advanced in two events, thanks to a fourth in the 300 hurdles (39.68) and a fifth in the 110 hurdles (15.23).
The Atwater boys 4x400 relay team closed the meet with a fifth (3:24.57). The Falcons’ Alex Vargas picked up a sixth in the 800 (1:56.37).
Merced senior Denise Bates, ranked fifth in the section in the discus, struggled Friday and did not reach the finals. Her 12th-place overall finish, however, will bring her back to Elk Grove for Masters. A fresh tailwind, aerodynamically miserable for discus throwers, proved difficult. Bates tossed 103 feet, 7 inches, off her best of 123-10.
Six field-event finals were conducted Wednesday. Golden Valley junior Kayla Commons placed fifth in the triple jump (35-4 1/4).
Divisions IV/V – El Capitan impacted the meet at Cal State Stanislaus with two winners – sophomore Dominique Navarrette in the discus (156-7) and junior Jalin Wiggins in the triple jump (45-3).
Livingston senior Tina Lao collected seconds in the shot put (35-0) and discus (120-3).
The Livingston boys placed seventh and the girls ninth in the team standings. The El Capitan boys tied for ninth.