June 1, 2013
400 winner Nia Dorner becomes area's first girls state sprint champ; Jesuit's Austin Mitsch takes third in 200, sixth in 100

CLOVIS - Cordova's Nia Dorner learned well from last year's girls 400 meter race at the CIF State Track and Field Championships in Clovis.

Dorner finished second in that race, losing when Serra of Gardena's Renetia James ran her down in the final 20 meters, and missing out on a chance at history.

On Saturday, on the very same Buchanan High School track in which she competed the year before, Dorner turned on the jets in the final 100 meters to easily overtake Serra's Chimere Ezumah, winning the 400 in a national No. 2 and lifetime best 53 seconds, and becoming the first girls sprint champion in area and Sac-Joaquin Section history.

"It's an amazing feeling," said Dorner, who also finished fourth in the girls 200 (23.74). "...I felt a lot faster this time than I did last year. That was do to hard work and determination."

Ezumah, who won the girls 400 state title as a freshman in 2010, started strong and led for almost three quarters of the race before watching Dorner blow by her on the final turn.

"I didn't get out as fast I could have," said Dorner, who wanted to run under 53 seconds after also going 53.12 in Friday's preliminaries. "But I knew I had more strength, so I was able to pull away."

Even demanding David Lawrence, her personal sprint coach who has worked with Dorner since the sixth grade, was impressed.

"To run 53.12 then 53 flat on back-to-back days is a prime example of the strength that she has," Lawrence said. "I know it was a goal of hers to come back here and vindicate herself as the No. 1 400-meter sprinter in California.

"Last year she walked out of here with a chip on her shoulder. Like I told her this morning, you are going to create your memories today. Do you want a good memory or a great memory? She looked right at me and said, 'I'm taking nothing less than winning a championship.'"

In other area highlights:

• Jesuit's Austin Mitsch and Antelope's Robert Ellis ended their high school sprint careers and rivalry with completely different set of emotions and results in the boys 200.
Mitsch ran an inspiring lifetime best 21.30 to take third behind repeat state champion Khalfani Muhammad (20.86) of Notre Dame Sherman Oaks and second place Morgan Simon (21.17) of Loyola-Los Angeles.

But Ellis, the two-time Sac-Joaquin Section Masters champion who ran a 21.37 the night before, pulled his hamstring early in the race. To his credit he limped all the way to the finish line (1:09.78), garnering a huge ovation from the announced crowd of 8,672..

"Good for him," said Mitsch, who was waiting for Ellis at the finish line. "I had to be there for him. He's my brother, my competitor."

Mitsch also placed sixth in the boys 100 (10.68), earning a second medal as a top-six finisher.

"It's a fun experience," Mitsch said. "These are some of the best in the nation, so what an honor to run with these guys....It was a pretty emotional weekend, putting on my uniform for the last time."

• Xavier Howell's breakthrough season of high jumping came to a disappointing end.

The Center senior finished fifth with a best of 6-7. He came into the meet as the state leader at 7 feet.

Howell was the only jumper to clear 6-5 and 6-7 without missing, but failed to clear 6-9 on his three attempts.

"My timing was off today," Howell said. "I was over the bar on all my jumps, but I was dragging my feet."

Carter of Rialto's Eric Moore finished first at 6-11.

Still, Howell saw competing in the state finals as a positive, especially after injuries sidelined him from any chance of making it last season.

"It's great being out here, it's good experience, especially being my senior season," Howell said.

And his 7-foot jump, achieved in winning the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters meet, still remains this season's best.

• Harvard-bound Madeleine Ankhelyi of Vista del Lago capped her high school running career with a sixth place finish (10:26.95) in the girls 3200.
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Bee staff writers Joe Davidson and Bill Paterson provide news, analysis and insight on the area high school sports scene in their Prep Blog. Have a question to ask them? Send them an email any time at jdavidson@sacbee.com or bpaterson@sacbee.com.

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