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By Zach Cavanagh
Gradually, the competitive field is shrinking during the California track and field season.
First, there are league fixtures, where the top nine advance from the preliminaries to the final and only the event winners and second and third place finishers who have reached qualifying standards progress further. Then there are the Section Preliminaries, where the heat winners and a total of nine competitors per event qualify for the Section Finals.
Out of the Section Finals, only the top nine performances from an event across all Section Divisions advance to the Masters Meet, where only the top six finish on the biggest stage of the CIF State Championships.
The Dana Hills Athletics Program has qualified 12 South Coast League entries for the CIF-SS Preliminaries, only nine for the CIF-SS Division 1 Finals and only five for the CIF-SS Masters Meet.
Now, there are only two Dolphins left: senior Jai Dawson and junior Allura Markow.
Dawson finished second in a photo-finish boys’ 800-meter race, and Markow earned the final qualifying spot in the girls’ 1,600-meter race at the CIF-SS Masters on Saturday, May 21 at Moorpark High School. Both Dana Hills distance runners will compete in the CIF State Championships with preliminaries on Friday, May 27 and finals on Saturday, May 28 at Buchanan High School in Clovis.
This is the first CIF State Championship held since 2019.
Dawson has been the top star on the track for the Dolphins all season, and although he easily qualified in the 800m, the Masters championship title was on the line. Dawson trailed the lead into the final corner, and the New Zealand native activated him for the home stretch. Dawson charged forward, but was trailed by Thacher’s Ellis Delvecchio by 0.02 seconds for the Masters title.
Masters was only the third time all season that Dawson had lost a run in the 800. Dawson finished second at the Arcadia Invitational against a runner from Utah, and he finished second in the South Finals preliminaries. Coast League. Dawson won the Orange County Championships, South Coast League Finals, CIF-SS Preliminaries, and CIF-SS Division 2 Finals.
Dawson is expected to be the No. 1 seed in his race and the No. 2 seed overall in the state preliminaries. Dawson is in the second of three innings and the event will begin around 7:50 p.m. Friday. The top three riders per heat and the next three best times overall will qualify for the national finals on Saturday.
Although he was the CIF-SS Division 2 champion in the 1,600 meter race, Dawson did not compete in the event at the Masters. This isn’t the first time Dawson has opted out of a postseason event he qualified for. Dawson was the South Coast League champion in the 800 last year, but he didn’t run it at CIF. Dawson also qualified for the CIF-SS 3,200-meter finals last season, but did not make the final. He finished second in the 1600m at the CIF-SS last season.
On the girls’ side, Markow qualified in two events for the Masters Meet – the 1,600 and 3,200 – but like Dawson, she chose to focus on one event instead of two. In the end, it also worked for Markow in the 1600m, if only barely.
Despite posting a personal best time of nearly three seconds, Markow just slipped to sixth and final state qualifying spot in the girls 1600m. Markow took the place by 0.61 seconds with a time of 4:51.97.
Markow is seeded fifth in the second of two runs of the 1,600m at the state preliminaries. The first four in each heat and the next four best times qualify for the final. The preliminaries will be played at 5:30 p.m. Friday.
Markow won the South Coast League title in the 1600m and finished second at the Orange County Championships. Markow also finished fifth in the CIF-SS Division 5 Finals.
Zach Cavanagh is the sportswriter for Picket Fence Media. Zach is a multiple California Journalism Award winner and has been covering sports in Orange County since 2013. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @ZachCav and follow our sports coverage on Twitter @SouthOCSports. Email to [email protected].
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