The East Bay Athletic League had several athletes reach the medal stand at the CIF State Track and Field Championships this past weekend.
Cate Peters of Monte Vista, Chukwunoso Udeh of De La Salle, and Alexander Franco of Dublin had their individual pictures taken following the finals Saturday night Veterans Memorial Stadium on the campus of Buchanan High in Clovis.
Then, Peters and Udeh were joined by members of their relay teams, the 4x400 for the Monte Vista girls, and the Spartans 4x100 relay.
Individually Udeh had one of the best performances of the entire weekend.
The De La Salle senior won the long jump with a leap of 23-feet, 9.75 inches. He added a fifth in the 110 High Hurdles (14.29), and sixth in the high jump (6-4) for his three individual medals.
The Spartans were also fifth in the 4x100 relay, clocking 41.28.
Franco made the finals of the 400, finishing ninth in the finals with a time of 48.35.
Peters was one of the top stories of the meet for her comeback in this, her senior season for the Mustangs. She will also head to Stanford as one of the best ever to run track for Monte Vista.
Last season Peters turned in one of the most incredible individual performances I have seen in over 35 years of covering prep track, winning the 100, 200, 400, and 800 – all in a span of about 90 minutes in the EBAL Meet.
But shortly thereafter her junior year was put on the shelf with a stress injury.
“We caught (the injury) early and decided to take care of it and come back strong this year,” said Peters.
Peters had entered her junior season seeking to have colleges take notice. After suffering a broken leg in soccer her freshman year that sent her to the shelf for 18 months, Peters made it back to compete in track as a sophomore, where she won the 100, 200, and 400. But because of COVID there was no North Coast Section meet or a CIF meet.
That brought her to last season, where she accomplished her goal at the beginning of the year despite the stress injury.
“My junior year I wanted to get recruited – get noticed by some colleges,” said Peters.
She accomplished that, turning in some big times early in the season like winning the 800 in the prestigious Mt. Sac Invitational.
The calls started coming in and she achieved a goal of signing with Stanford to compete in college. With the college goal attained, that left her senior season to wrap everything up.
“I wanted to go to state,” said Peters of her senior year goals. “I had done everything I wanted to do but make state.”
Peters wanted it not just for her, but her teammates as well. Once again, mission accomplished. Peters qualified out of the NCS Meet of Champions – the qualifier for state – in the 800 but was also a part of the Monte Vista 4x400 and 4x800 relay team.
This past week at state, Peters and her teammates made the most of their opportunity.
In the 800 trials Peters served notice, outkicking national leader Mackinzie Browne of North for third in her heat, nearly ousting the heavy favorite for the title.
Then in the finals, a tight group of runners went slow early, a scenario that sets up for Peters given her speed.
“It was a very aggressive race, one that required a kick,” said Peters.
With 200 to go Peters was boxed in the pack and it took a bit long to bounce to the outside. When she got free, she still closed well, but was just a bit used up from the trials.
“I used up my kick there,” said Peters of the trials. “If I had the same kick as I did in the prelims, I think I would have had a great chance to win.”
Her sixth place time was 2:10.28 got her the podium appearance.
In the 4x400 relay Peters was joined by teammates Cate Miller, Isabella Moriyama, and Natalia McGowan. The trials run was incredible, with the Mustangs coming from well back to finish second in their heat, good enough for a spot in the finals.
“We broke our own school record in the prelims,” said Peters of the 4x400. “Being an underdog, we had to put it all out there just to make the finals. It was like no one knew who we were.”
They did – and in dramatic fashion.
Well off the screen through the first two legs, the Mustangs got a 56.1 split from McGowan on the third leg, followed by a 55 closing split from Peters to finish second.
Monte Vista’s finish went under the radar that the announcers on the stream didn’t know who the team was, repeatedly saying, “that team in red is now in third,” as well as badly pronouncing “Monte Vista” a number of times.
Making the finals was huge.
“It’s not like we are known as a school that sends out a lot of 4x400 relay teams,” said Peters. “We just wanted to show we belonged.”
Which is exactly what they did as the team got their medals.
Peters finishes out her Monte Vista holding the school records in the 100 (12.18), 200 (24.64), 400 (54.72), 800 (2:06.89), and as part of the 4x400 relay (3:49.17).
What’s next for the iconic runner?
This next week she is in the San Francisco Women’s 100xOne Mile World Record event. The race takes place Saturday, June 3 at Cox Stadium on the San Francisco State campus.
Peters will be on a team that will have 100 runners, each running a one-mile leg. The goal is to beat the world record of 9 hours, 23 minutes, and 39 seconds, which is a mile pace of 5:37. The record has stood since 1999.
Then she will run again in the Brooks PR Invitational on June 14 in Seattle where Peters will run the 800. Finally, there is the Nike Nationals June 15-18 at Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon.
Peters will run the 400 at the Nike.
“You can bet I will be taking some time off after Nike’s,” said Peters with a laugh.
Here are the performances of the EBAL athletes at state:
**Cate Peters (Monte Vista) 800: Trials 3 rd , 2:12.71; Finals 6th, 2:10.28.
**Abby Stein (Granada) 3,200 (finals only): 20th , 11:07.04.
**Victoria Bradley (Dublin) Pole Vault: Trials 12-3 qualified; Finals – no height.
**Erin Brown (Amador Valley) Shot Put: Trials 38-07.75, did not qualify.
**Monte Vista 4x400 relay: Trials 2 nd , 3:49.17; Finals 9th, 3:54.70.
**Monte Vista 4x800 relay (finals only) 10th , 9:23.10
**Chukwunoso Udeh (De La Salle) 110HH: Trials 3 rd , 14.32 qualified; Finals 5th , 14.29. High Jump: Trials 8 th , 6-5 qualified; Finals 6th , 6-4. Long Jump: Trials 2 nd , 23-06.5; Finals 1 st , 23 09.75.
**Jaden Jefferson (De La Salle) 100: Trial 4th, 10.7, did not
**Alexander Franco (Dublin) 400: Trial 3rd, 48.62, qualified; Finals 9th 48.35.
**Aleksander Schade (Granada) 800: Trials 7th in heat, 1:56.94, did not qualify.
**Roland Ruckmann-Barnes (Granada) 3,200 (finals only): 11th ,
**Ethan Miller (Monte Vista) 3,200 (finals only): 20th , 9:12.41.
**Derek Lo (San Ramon Valley) Pole Vault: Trials, no height, did not qualify.
**Anthony Dean (De La Salle) Triple Jump: Trials 42-09, did not qualify.
**De La Salle 4x100 relay: Trials 41.30, qualified; Finals 5th, 41.28.
**Dublin 4x400 relay: Trials 5th, 3:22.79 did not qualify.
**Foothill 4x800 relay (finals only): Final 12th , 8:00.02.