Aptos High senior Lena Manchester took third in the 100 meters hurdles at the Central Coast Section Track and Field Finals at Gilroy High on May 20. She qualified for a spot at the CIF State Championships in Clovis on May 26-27. (Raul Ebio - The Pajaronian file photo)

Aptos High senior Lena Manchester wasn’t too concerned about rankings or what lane she had to run in prior to her 100 meters hurdles race at last week’s Central Coast Section Finals.

In fact, she tends to push herself a lot harder knowing there’s always someone much faster than her.

Manchester used that motivation to take third in 15.15 seconds and punch her ticket into the CIF State Track and Field Championships at Veterans Memorial Stadium at Buchanan High School in Clovis on May 26-27.

It’s always been one of Manchester’s goals to qualify for the big dance. This year she was able to finally do so without her previous opponent, and former teammate, Elizabeth Churchill standing in the way.   

“I was always second best to [Churchill], but without her I knew that was an open spot for me,” Manchester said.

Manchester was well aware she was the No. 4 seed in the finals going against Mitty High’s terrific trio in sophomore Laniah Simpson, junior Tiana Osuna and junior Taylor Oden.

Simpson won the race in 14.78 seconds, followed by Osuna (15.02) in second and Oden (15.17), who took fourth and missed the cut to qualify for the state championships. 

“It was my goal to knock one of them off the podium and I wanted to go to state, really bad,” Manchester said.  

Apart from extending her season, Manchester set a new personal record from her previous best of 15.26 that she set during the CCS Top 8 on April 21. She wasn’t too worried about the time and the goal was to finish ahead of at least one of the Mitty runners.

Manchester doesn’t usually recall any of her races, yet it’s hard not to remember going up against three of the best hurdle jumpers in the section.

“The three of them on my right, I knew that,” she said. “Seeing them in my peripherals could push me a lot more and it did it. That was incredible.”

As expected, the front of the pack was tight in the beginning and it wasn’t until the final 25 meters where the top three runners began separating themselves to the front.

Oden held on the third spot for just a split second until Manchester leaned forward at the very end to capture the final spot into the CIF state championships. 

“It’s instinct, but I really try to push myself as far as I could because I knew that we’re all pretty close,” she said. “I figured it was a close race, so that edge might take it off.” 

Manchester’s height has given her a slight advantage throughout the season. Her coaches constantly remind her to take advantage of it by using her long legs to get to the first row faster.  

She felt a little high going over one of the hurdles but she was able to drop down quickly, driving through until the finish line for a third place finish.

“It’s usually the end I get pretty high,” she said.

Simpson, Osuna and Oden helped Mitty High finish second as a team with a score of 61 slightly behind this year’s champion Los Altos High (65), followed by St. Ignatius (51), St. Francis of Mountain View (50.83) and Hollister (38). Aptos finished with six points. 

Watsonville High senior Dahlia Barranco took 11th in the 800 in 2 minutes, 20.61 seconds and sophomore Katelynn Ruiz (11:53.74) took 12th in the 3,200.

Scotts Valley High junior Ashlyn Boothby defended her 1,600 meters title by winning the race in 4:52.27 ahead of Palo Alto sophomore Kinga Czajokowska (4:53.59) and Los Altos junior Jasleen Sidhu (4:54.55). 

Boothby earned a trip to Clovis alongside teammate freshman Ava Decleve, who took third in the 400 in 56.27 seconds just behind Christopher High senior Melia Middleton (55.92) in second and Mountain View sophomore Hannah Rutherford, who won in 54.81. 

San Lorenzo Valley High senior Colleen Murata (5:12.87) took 12th in the 1,600. Fellow teammates senior Kaitlin Seigle (2:15.41) took fifth in the 800 and senior Mia Hamilton took fourth in the long jump with a jump of 17 feet, 5 inches.  

Aptos High senior Trent Nosky (1:55.18) was edged by Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League rival Scotts Valley senior Mason Lantz (1:55.16).

Nosky—who won the 800 at the league championships on May 5—was disappointed after the race, especially after finishing with a similar time in last week’s CCS semifinals that felt ten times easier.

The Mariners standout runner was a little too passive in the third 200 meters of the race and at that point believes he should have made the move to get past his opponents.

Instead, he let off the gas pedal and found himself boxed in, which prevented him from making a push and forcing him to swing wide. 

“I just didn’t have it in that last 100 [meters],” he said. “My legs were pulling up and I was freaking out because I thought it’d be a lot easier than it was to get top three.”

Earlier in the season he tore two ligaments (ATFL and PFL) on the outside of his ankle and had to sit out for six weeks. Nosky has had about a month of workouts along with rehab to get back into running shape.

Nosky is content with being able to at least get back on the track for his senior season despite it not ending the way he planned it out.

“I’m happy with that but obviously I wanted to go to state, maybe even medal at state,” he said. “I thought I could based on the training but it is what it is.”

Monte Vista Christian senior James Ponzio took sixth in the 1,600 in 4:19.01 and Scotts Valley senior Aiden Boothby (9:54.54) took 12th in the 3,200. Ponzio and Boothby were part of their respective 4×800 relay teams. 

Aptos senior Rylan Sampson took sixth in the pole vault with a jump of 13 feet, 6 inches and sophomore Logan Brantley (131-8) took ninth in the discus throw. 

Los Gatos High won the boys team championship with a score of 61, followed by Serra High (47), Menlo School (33), Los Altos High (32) and Leland High (28) to round out the top five. Aptos finished with eight points and Monte Vista Christian had three points.

Previous articleUnion Pacific donation to benefit Pajaro flood victims
Next articleGunfire breaks out after crash on Highway 1 in Aptos
A Watsonville native who has a passion for local sports and loves his community. A Watsonville High, Cabrillo College, San Jose State University and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alumnus, he primarily covers high school athletics, Cabrillo College athletics, various youth sports in the Pajaro Valley and the Santa Cruz Warriors. Juan is also a video game enthusiast, part-time chef (at home), explorer and a sports junkie. Coaches and athletic directors are encouraged to report scores HERE.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here