Rocklin performance at sections not without drama

4x400 relay team limps its way to state
By: Lloyd Jones/Placer Herald Sports Contributor
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ELK GROVE _ Rocklin High School will be represented at the California State Track and Field Meet thanks to an outstanding effort by the Thunder boys? 4x400 relay team. The fast foursome tied a school record to place third at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters meet to earn the trip to Clovis, June 1-2. Rocklin?s Leah Carter will also represent the silver-and-blue in the girls? high jump. The 110 schools represented at Masters produce some of the finest track and field athletes in the country. And circumstance beyond a participant?s control can mean the difference qualifying for the next level or staying home. Rocklin?s 4x400 team of Alex Devereux, Marvin Gardner, Leandro Praseli and Ryan Jones started out slowly this season but progressively improved with nearly every meet. At the Sierra Foothill League meet three weeks ago, the team also finished third to qualify for the Division II meet. They eventually moved on to the Masters where they gave their best effort and now will run at state. Devereux ran the first leg of the relay and gave the Thunder the lead by breaking the 50-second barrier for his quarter-mile run. Gardner took the baton from Devereux and battled to maintain Rocklin?s position but slipped into second place before passing the stick Praseli. It would be the third leg where circumstances beyond control would step in. Praseli regained the lead for his team but in the final 30 meters of the race his hamstring began to cramp up. His pace turned into a hobble and he fell to the ground as he passed the baton to anchor Jones who was at a standstill. The team had fallen back to fifth when Jones started out but he managed to pass the Vallejo runner at the 200-meter mark. Then, turning up the heat, he went by the El Camino runner at the 50-meter mark to claim third place for Rocklin. Carter took second in the girls? high jump to also qualify for a trip to Clovis. Carter?s jump of 5 feet 5 inches was all she needed for the medal. Carter?s best jump last year was 5-8; this year her best was 5-7. If she can return to her 2011 form she could be on her way to a bronze medal or better at state. A repeat of 5-8 would also put her in the top 20 in the country. Also making a good showing at Masters but failing to qualify for state was the girls? 4x100 relay team. Liesl Shirhall, Elyse Rowen, Lyndsey Settle and Baylor Hogan placed fifth in the event. Shirhall was seventh in the 200-meter race and Nathalie Cartan was 19th in the long jump. Also gaining a fifth-place finish was discus thrower Chris VanLiew and Connor Besmer and Teddy Flanagan claimed fifth and ninth respectively in the pole vault. In the 1600m run, George Miao was eighth as was Jones in the 800m event. California State Track and Field Meet Clovis High School, June 1-2 Rocklin Qualifiers Thunder boys? 4x400-meter relay team: Alex Devereux, Marvin Gardner, Leandro Praseli and Ryan Jones. Thunder girls high jump: Leah Carter