The Saddleback men's track & field had a strong finish at the Orange Empire Conference Finals by finishing third at Riverside City College on Friday. The Gauchos will send a number of individuals to the Southern California Prelims and Finals, which start this next weekend in San Bernardino.
Saddleback had a good start last weekend when they sat in second place after a handful of events on opening weekend. The Gauchos finished with points in 14 different events, including 12 on Froday.
Two Gauchos took home conference titles on Friday as Tommy McWilliams won the high jump with a leap of 1.85 meters and Christian Ydens threw the discus 45.96 meters. The jump by McWilliams was just a hair off his personal-best and tied Orange Coast's Bryan Boutilier for the conference title. Ydens' toss came out of nowhere, and easily eclipsed his personal-best. Ydens had opening throws of 37.17, 35.46, 37.24 and 37.67 before heading into his fifth of six throws. He then had the throw of his life, eclipsing his personal-best by over eight meters to edge a trio of Riverside throwers. Ydens' throw was the 15th longest in the state this year. Joining Ydens in earning points in the discus were Constantine Kamarullah and Luigi Gonzalez, who finished sixth and seventh, respectively.
Nick Van Vliet was on his game, finishing second in the 400 meters and fourth in the 200 meters. Van Vliet blazed the track in 48.98, which was just a hair off of his personal-best in finishing behind Orange Coast's Austin Brown. He ran a 22.12 in the 200 to finish fourth after setting a personal-best the weekend before at the prelims with a time of 21.85. Joining Van Vliet with points in the 400 was Josh Suri, who finished fifth with a personal-best time of 50.51.
Another guy with two separate top-5 finishes was hurdler John Pease (pictured), who finished third in the 400-meter hurdles and fifth in the 110-meter hurdles. His time of 56.39 in the 400h was only 0.05 off his personal-best, which ranks 25th in the state. His time of 16.46 in the 110h was a personal-best, snipping 0.18 seconds from his time in the prelims.
Other top-10 performance were turned in by Mike Kabbout and Zach Coon. Kabbout was seventh in the 1,500 meters with a time of 4:30.47 while Coon was eighth in the pole vault with a vault of 3.80 meters. Saddleback's 4x400 relay team finished third with a time of 3:23.49.
Saddleback will compete again this weekend at the Southern California Prelims held at Cerritos College.