SOQUEL—Aptos High’s Elizabeth Churchill was literally running all over the Central Coast Section Track and Field Championships, setting personal records in three events and standing atop of the podium for two.
The junior standout competed in the long jump, the 100-meter hurdles and took home the gold in the high jump with a jump of 5-feet, 6-inches. She was the lone Santa Cruz County Athletic League athlete to win a first-place medal on Saturday at Soquel High.
“I felt really springy,” she said. “I felt like I had a really good run-through and my technique was much better.”
Churchill’s ability to switch gears in a flash was equally as impressive when she cleared the high jump bar at 5-2 after returning from a second-place finish in the 100 hurdles. She left again to receive her medal and then sprinted back to cap off the event, beating her previous personal record by four inches.
Prior to that, Churchill sprinted down the track in the 100 hurdles in 16.09 seconds to edge Zoe Wang of Monta Vista, who finished third in 16.11.
Churchill’s previous best was 16.62 and she was excited with how things turned out.
“I was not expecting that,” she said. “I was nervous all day but I just wanted to get a (personal record) and I did.”
Churchill set another PR after she placed seventh in the long jump with a leap of 16 feet, 8 and 1/4 inches. She tallied 20 points for the Aptos girls team, which finished in a tie for sixth place.
Churchill said that the goal now is to improve and attempt to set more personal records to her ever-growing list of accomplishments.
“I’m just really proud of myself and how all the training paid off,” she said.
Monte Vista Christian senior Shayna Leibovitz took 10th in the high jump at 5 feet, and North Monterey County High senior Lorraine Mankins placed fifth in the pole vault with a leap of 10 feet.
Aptos senior Susana Estrada placed fifth in 5:09.46 in the 1,600. Scotts Valley freshman Ashlyn Boothby placed third in 5:06.59. Her older sister, Amber, placed sixth in 5:11.83.
Watsonville senior Layla Ruiz placed eighth in 11:27.47 in the 3,200 meters. It was her final race in a Wildcatz’s uniform.
“I don’t even know how to describe it, I don’t think it really clicked that it was the last race until I was cooling down after the race,” she said. “Now it’s going to be different, which is scary but exciting at the same time.”
Ruiz came into Saturday’s race as Watsonville’s record holder in the 3,200 and 1,600 finishing in 11:01.53 and 5:09.22, respectively. Ruiz, who will attend UCLA in the fall, got off to an excellent start Saturday by taking the lead in a pack of 13 finalists. She continued her pace and stayed within the top-3 after two laps, but then she gradually began to fall back as far as the 10th spot.
She picked up the pace going into lap 7 and made up some ground by moving back into the eighth position.
“Things didn’t completely work out the way that I wanted them to but I’m still glad that I kept fighting,” she said.
Ruiz said having the CCS finals in June was just part of a bizarre season that seemed to go on forever, despite just competing in half of the meets that they’re used to.
“I feel like in the end that mattered a lot but it is what it is, at this point, and I had to make due with what I had,” she said.
100 hurdles: 2. Elizabeth Churchill (Aptos), Jr., 16.09
High jump: 1. Elizabeth Churchill (Aptos), Jr., 5-6; 10. Shayna Lebovitz (MVC), Sr., 5-0
Long jump: 7. Elizabeth Churchill (Aptos), Jr., 16-8.25
Pole vault: 5. Lorraine Mankins (North Monterey County), Sr., 10-0
1,600: 5. Susana Estrada (Aptos), Sr., 5:09.46
3,200: 8. Layla Ruiz (Watsonville), Sr., 11:27.47