Clairemont pole vaulter leads locals

ARCADIA — Mackenzie Johnson won the San Diego Section pole vault title last year, but it was a victory at the Arcadia Invitational on Saturday night that had the Clairemont High athlete smiling.

Although four vaulters cleared 12 feet, 7¼ inches, the senior bound for Rice University in the fall captured the gold medal because she skied over that height on her first try while the others needed all three of their attempts.

The victory was one of the highlights of the meet that saw nine season section bests recorded under perfect conditions.

Of those, Army-Navy’s Alex Monsivaiz may have been the most impressive even though he only finished fourth in a sizzling 800 meters at 1:50.47. That is the sixth-fastest time in section history, scooting past former state champion Charles Jock of Mission Bay.

Of equal import, he was the first Californian, moving him into serious consideration come June at the State Championships.

Johnson was thinking those very same thoughts as she faced the best in the state — and won.

“We were all talking about how insane state will be this year,” said the 17-year-old. “This was like a mini state meet because of the level of competition.”

But Johnson will not be smiling as broadly if she wins in Clovis at 12-7¼ — a height she considers average, at best.

Last year’s section champion at 13 feet, she had one good try at 13-1 on her final attempt but is looking for something much higher before the end of the season as she switches to heavier poles.

“Kortney Ross went 13-6 at the state finals (setting the section record) and I want to break that record before state,” said Johnson. “Then I want to do what all competitors want — improve on that at state.”

The fact she went 13 feet last year was nothing short of miraculous.

Clairemont’s field was being completely renovated, so the Chieftains boarded a bus and rode to Mission Bay High every day. Not only was that taxing on the athletes, Mission Bay’s facilities will never be considered friendly toward setting records.

“Our facility is so nice,” Johnson said of the new digs. “It has all-weather runways and everything. I’m really confident I can get the record.”

But she might have company as Rancho Bernardo’s Mimi Lian also cleared 12-7¼ at Arcadia to finish second.

Although he only finished sixth, an obviously disappointed Darren Fahy of La Costa Canyon still snagged a yearly best of 8:54.51 in the 3,200. And he was the first Californian.

Other section bests included a sizzling 4:54.44 in the seeded mile for Torrey Pines’ Ashlyn Dadkhah, which converts to 4:52.84 for 1,600 meters.

“I was upset they didn’t put me in the invitational,” Dadkhah said before watching the invitational, where her time would have been third.

Other yearly bests included a 10:24.86 by La Costa Canyon’s Emma Abrahamson in the 3,200 (8th), an 11.76 in the 100 by El Camino’s Jasmine Gibbs (4th), a 14.64 in the 100 hurdles for teammate Tamika Brazzel (4th), a 2:13.60 in the girls 800 by Otay Ranch’s Carina Gillespie and a 14.31 in the seeded 110 high hurdles for La Costa Canyon’s Julian Todd-Borden (2nd).

Huffaker, S. (2012). U-T San Diego.

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Mackenzie Johnson

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