Track team off to fast start
They saw him burst off the starting line.
They watched as he rounded the new Brentwood track and were somewhat astonished by what Sierra Canyon freshman Alexander Bowens had just accomplished.
Back-to-back victories in the 400 meters in his first two Gold Coast League meets was certainly an impressive way to start his high school track and field career.
“I was excited, Alexander was excited and the guys came up and congratulated him,” Sierra Canyon track and field coach Troy Samuels said. “They were proud. They had this look like, ‘Look at that.’ They were definitely surprised.”
In a year marked by uncertainty and change, Bowens’ emergence was certainly enlightening.
His first performance was a respectable 53.9 seconds on April 24. His next race was 53.6 seconds on May 1.
The Sierra Canyon school record of 51-plus seconds is certainly in range for Bowens, who was also the No. 4 overall Gold Coast League runner in the 200 meters in 24.41.
“He’s had some pretty good performances, and for several reasons,” Samuels said. “Reason A, he’s just a freshman. And Reason B, he is still not in his top running shape yet, just like most of these kids out here. They have not had a chance to build a foundation.
“I would venture to say if this was a regular, non-COVID season, he would break the school record this year. I definitely think he can do it by next year. He’s a great kid, and I am looking forward to coaching him the next few years.”
COVID certainly depleted Sierra Canyon’s numbers this year.
Only two other freshman boys – Cole Crawford and Kingston Askerneese – have competed.
Crawford emerged as the No. 7 overall league runner in the 100 meters in 11.98 and the No. 5 overall league runner in the 200 in 24.53. He is the No. 1 overall league freshman in the 100 and No. 2 overall league freshman in the 200.
Askerneese finished as the No. 13 league runner in both the 100 (12.70) and 200 (26.32). He was ranked as the No. 2 and No. 4 league freshman in his respective races.
“For our little MOD squad, they were pretty impressive,” Samuels said.
The Sierra Canyon girls distance core – which won its first league title in 2019 – decided to sit out this track season to focus on the fall season.
This decision allowed star distance runner Isis Diaz – an all-state cross country runner as a freshman and sophomore who qualified for the CIF Masters track and field meet as a sophomore – time to regroup and heal.
Samuels said Diaz has been battling tight hamstring soreness and has participated in weekly physical training to try to overcome the injury.
“This is a great opportunity for her to get healthy,” Samuels said. “She should be running pain-free. We want her to be pain-free. We want her to hone in on a fantastic senior season.
“She just started training again with us, and it was good to see her out here because I saw the brightness in her face.”
Samuels expressed excitement about an uptick in his middle school numbers this season.
Usually Samuels said he gets about eight new middle school track and field athletes. This year, there were 20 new middle schoolers in the track program.
“I think with COVID, a lot of the parents sent their kids to track to give them something to do,” Samuels said. “We don’t even have any meets for them yet, but they are showing up everyday and learning to be active.”
Sierra Canyon has two more meets in this unique high school season – a Gold Coast League meet on May 15 and the Gold Coast League finals on May 28. Both meets will be held at Brentwood.
“My goal this season was to allow the kids to compete, to do it safely and avoid injury,” Samuels said. “If they have an opportunity to run and be in the best shape possible, then I would consider this a successful season.”