Track and Field Preview
State Titles for Roxanne Nolan & Luke Nickelson
SAN LUIS OBISPO (May 21, 2018)- Last Week: Cuesta Track and Field qualified seven athletes to the 2018 California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) State Track & Field Championships last weekend in Bakersfield and the small contingent brought home a pair of state titles and overall finishes of 7th and 12th place for the women and men, respectively. The meet was full of ups and downs for the Cougars, who entered the meet with the hopes of winning several events, however the meet did cap a sensational season for Cuesta Athletics.
Women: The CCCAA State Meet was a site of sweet redemption for 2018 CCCAA State Champion Roxanne Nolan (Morro Bay HS). Nolan completed her undefeated sophomore campaign with a CCCAA State Title last weekend in Bakersfield. She claimed the 13th CCCAA State Title in Cuesta Women's Track & Field's history and its sixth pole vault crown. Nolan cleared 11' 5.75" to hold off her teammate and CCCAA State Runner-Up Macy Rivas-Clark (Bakersfield) and led Cuesta to 7th place as team, which equals the program's best mark since earning 6th place at the 1989 CCCAA State Meet. Nolan was motivated to knock down all barriers and best all challengers this season after “no-heighting” at the State Meet as a freshman. This year, Nolan was one of three returning vaulters from the 2017 CCCAA State Meet, including the Runner-Up, but by the time she entered the competition and cleared her first height only three vaulters were left in the competition. Her second leap won the competition, while teammate Macy Rivas-Clark claimed 2nd place based on fewest misses at lower heights. Rivas-Clark returned to her hometown and challenged for a CCCAA State Title and finished just an inch and a half off her season-best by clearing 10’ 11.75”, but would have had to add nearly half-a-foot to catch her teammate Nolan. A multi-talented athlete, Rivas-Clark began her career as a sprinter, but ended it as an All-State Pole Vaulter and the Cougars’ leader in the Hammer. All State Middle Distance Runner Kirsten Purcell(Atascadero HS) finished 4th at the CCCAA State Championship in the 800-meters in a time of 2:15.69. She is the first Cougar to earn all-State in a middle -distance event in 15 years. Purcell came to Cuesta as a 400-runner, but has increased her distance the past two seasons. She ranks 4th all time at Cuesta in both the 400 and 800-meter runs, as well as, 7th all time in the 200-meters. Thrower Hannah Katches (Paso Robles HS) provided a huge boost to the Cougars’ throwing program this Spring and ended one spot short of All State honors in the Javelin. The former Cuesta Volleyball and Basketball player, Katches skipped both sports her sophomore year and came out for Track and Field. She ended up the Cougars’ leader in every event, expect Hammer, which was Rivas-Clark event. Katches qualified for the 2018 CCCAA State Championships in the Javelin and took 5th place with a throw of 112’ 9”. She ended the season in Cuesta’s All Time Top 10 for the Javelin (5th), Shot Put (5th) and, Discus (10th).
Men: Jumper Luke Nickelson (Fresno: Nipomo HS) broke his own Cuesta record to win the 2018 CCCAA State Long Jump title and landed in 8th place in his specialty the Triple Jump. His winning leap of 24’ 7.25” came on his final attempt and vaulted him from 4th to 1st, while also adding almost half a foot to his Cuesta Record. The Long Jump was early in the day, so Nickelson had to wait all day until the Triple Jump started as one of the meet’s last events. He took an early lead with a leap of 46’ 1.5”, but, after nearly matching it in his second jump, he did not post a measurable mark in his last four attempts and fell to 8th place. Nickelson, Cuesta’s Track & Field Team MVP, accounted for 11 of the team’s 17 points at the meet. Cuesta Record Holder Evan Stork (SLO HS) earned 5th place in the Hammer, which is the highest finish on record for a Cuesta Thrower (Hammer, Discus, Shot Put). Stork just missing All State honors with a throw of 167’ 4” at the 2018 CCCAA State Championship. His first throw at State was his best throw, as he only scored twice in his six attempts. Stork capped a huge sophomore season and entered the State Meet having broken his own Cuesta standard in six of his previous seven meets, including the CCCAA Regional Meet. He added over 25-feet to the original Cuesta Record set in 1993 by Matt Godbehere (152’ 10”). Pole Vaulter Jimmy Escobar (Burlingame HS) saved his best for last as he earned 7th place at the CCCAA State Championship with a leap of 15’ 1”. Escobar is a product of the Cougars’ legendary Pole Vaulting program that has produced 14 vaulters All State Pole Vaulters, including four CCCAA State Champions. In his first season with the Cougars, Escobar was not the Cougars’ top scoring vaulter in any meet, until he broke a tie with a teammate at the CCCAA Regional, due to fewer misses at lower heights, and qualified for the CCCAA State Championships. Escobar added four inches to his season-best at the CCCAA State Meet for a leap of 15’ 1”, although he remains nearly a foot away from Cuesta’s all time Top 10, however that is for next season when he returns as the program’s leader.
This Week: The 2018 Track & Field season is over, except the post-season coaches’ meetings. The Western State Conference coaches will meet this week to determine and distribute the loop’s track and field athletes of the year awards, plus the coach of the year for both the men’s and women’s teams.
Notes- Below is a list of Cuesta’s CCCAA State Final Results
1st Place- Roxanne Nolan, Pole Vault- 11' 5.75"
2nd Place- Macy Rivas-Clark, Pole Vault- 10' 11.75"
4th Place- Kirsten Purcell, 800m- 2:15.69
5th Place- Hannah Katches, Javelin- 112' 9"
1st Place- Luke Nickelson, Long Jump- 24' 7.25"
5th Place- Evan Stork, Hammer- 167' 4"
7th Place- Jimmy Escobar, Pole Vault- 15' 1"
8th Place- Luke Nickelson, Triple Jump- 46' 1.5"
Notes- Below is a list of Cuesta’s all conference performances.
First Place- Men: Luke Nickeslon (Triple Jump), Evan Stork (Hammer), Jacob Franklin (Javelin; Women: Madison Mitchell (400 Hurdles), Roxanne Nolan (Pole Vault)
Second Place- Men: Garrett Morgan (800m), Mike Escobar (Pole Vault), Nickelson (Long Jump); Women: Macy Rivas-Clark (Pole Vault), Hannah Katches (Shot Put), Mitchell (100 Hurdles)
Third Place- Men: Jimmy Escobar (Pole Vault); Women: Kirsten Purcell (800m), Bailey Price (Pole Vault), Katches (Javelin)
Fourth Place- Men: Cian Fernandez (Pole Vault), Nickelson (High Jump), Stork (Shot Put); Women: None
Fifth Place- Men: Garron Knox (5,000m, 10,000m), Franklin (Shot Put, Discus), Stork (Javelin); Women: None.
2018 Team Preview
Men’s Track and Field- The “Big Cats” have assembled one of their most talented and balanced teams in years. The Cougars are not blessed with great depth, but they do have talent in nearly every event. Cuesta’s Pole Vault program is legendary with four State Champions and more than a dozen State Qualifiers coming out of the program. This year 2017 Regional Qualifier Mike Escobar has returned and is already past his freshman mark. He is one of the favorites to take the title this year, however teammate Jimmy Escobar should push him all the way. Sophomore Cian Fernandez and Freshman Noah Carella should be in the mix for State too. The Cougars are also traditionally strong in the Distance events and this year is no exception. The Cougars have lots of depth here too, however they are really counting on Freshman Garrett Morgan and Sophomore Kobi Kelly to run deep into the championship events. Morgan will specialize in the 800 and 1500-meter runs, while Kelly, the Cougars’ Cross Country MVP, will extend into the 5K and 10K. Sprinter Robert Fast is back on the track and the aptly named speedster will handle all the sprints, although his best event should be the 400m and he should advance to compete post-conference. Over the past decade or so, the Cougars’ Throwing program has developed into a strength of the team. Cuesta Record Holder Evan Stork has already broken his own 2017 Cuesta Hammer Record three times and is the top thrower in the State. He is poised to be the first Cuesta Thrower to win a CCCAA State title. According to Coach Brian Locher, Freshman Thrower Jacob Franklin is the “Real Deal”. He has the potential to win or at least challenge for a CCCAA State title in the javelin, discus, or shot put. Sophomore Luke Nickelson is the Cougars’ jump specialist and he definitely special. He has already surpassed broken the Cougars’ Long Jump and Triple Jump records and should while also taking a run at the Cuesta high jump standard.
Women’s Track & Field- Cuesta’s women team has some heavy hitters, but lacks depth and breadth this season. The squad is led by 2017 CCCAA State Qualifier Roxanne Nolan, who has already cleared 12’ this season, a full half-foot over her 2017 CCCAA State-best mark. She is a clear favorite to return to the CCCAA State Meet and, this year, bring back a title. Cuesta has qualified 27 women’s vaulters and won five CCCAA Titles since it became a women’s event in 1999. Nolan should be joined by fellow Macy Rivas-Clark, who is a dual State Meet threat with her vaulting and ability in the Hammer. Former Cuesta Volleyball and Basketball player Hannah Katches has proven to be a natural talent in the throwing events and the former Spiker and Cager is already considered a State Meet hopeful. She is specializing in the Javelin and Shot Put and should reach the post-conference meets in both, however she could also surprise in the Discus. The Cougars lack of overall depth has allowed some athletes to expand into other events and the team has a small group of multi-event athletes that could move into the Heptathlon. Sophomore Hurdler Gwen Lundy is back and healthy this season. She is an accomplished hurdler and has been working on her throws. She skipped basketball this season to concentrate on track and it appears to be paying off. Freshmen Madison Mitchell and Abby Richey are also projected to be Heptathletes, however they both have struggled with nagging early season injuries. When they are healthy the trio shall make the small squad deep and talented in multiple events. On the track, Sophomore Kirsten Purcell and Freshman Hannah Wiese should shine in the mid-distance events, while Freshman Tiana Arata handles the sprints. As usual, the Cougars do have depth in the distance events and the pack will be led by Cross Country MVP Samantha Duston, who will specialize in the 1500-meter run.
Cuesta College Athletic Programs are funded through a combined effort of the College District, Associated Students of Cuesta College, and The Athletic Booster Club.