Serra High senior Ben Parodi headed into the West Catholic Athletic League track and field championships looking to break a school record that has stood since 1975.
At the end of the meet the school record still stood, but the shot-putting Padre took home a nice consolation prize on Saturday -- a WCAL title.
Parodi’s winning heave of 56 feet, 4 inches came on his fourth attempt, topping second-place finisher and perennial contender Cody Bickham of St. Francis by more than 3 feet.
In Saturday’s league finals at Serra, Parodi was one of several Padres to qualify for the Central Coast Section semifinals, which will be held at Gilroy High on May 21.
“I was really hoping to break the school record,” said Parodi, a Pacifica resident, who fell short of the program-best mark of 59-11.5. “There were priorities to take care of today. Winning the event and qualifying for CCS were definitely high on the list.”
A rowdy crowd gathered around the shot put event that was nestled in the far corner of the Serra track complex.
With a league-high four participants in the finals, the Serra throwers had the boisterous support of the home crowd before and during every attempt.
Padres sophomore Jonathan Beering (Foster City) came in third with an impressive personal record toss of 49-10.75 to punch his ticket to Gilroy.
“That was a huge PR,” Parodi said. “It was great to see everyone do so well. I’m expecting more big things from the sophomore in CCS.”
Luke Longinotti (Burlingame) and Cameron Ciano (Half Moon Bay) finished in fourth and fifth place, respectively, falling just short of making the section semifinals.
Parodi also placed fifth in the discus with a mark of 141-6, which came on his first attempt.
Like Parodi, Serra senior Dalyn Pacheco qualified first in an event – in his case, the triple jump -- and he didn’t disappoint.
After back-to-back attempts of less than desired results, the lanky Padre saved his best work for last. Moments after a Mitty competitor landed a meet-best mark, Pacheco (San Bruno) leaped 44-5.50 to overtake his Monarchs opponent and secure the WCAL championship.
Pacheco also performed well in the boys high jump, landing a season best 6-2 to take third place in the opening event of the foggy May morning and earn a CCS spot.
“I didn’t get to practice much lately because I’ve been focusing on the triple,” Pacheco said after his showing in the high jump. “It definitely boosts my confidence up a bit to perform this well. My weakness was always my technique. I just got by on sheer jumping ability. After each jump today I felt more and more comfortable. That will definitely help me in CCS.”
The two best finishes of the day came in the boys 300 hurdles and the boys 4x400 relay, which closed out the track events.
While Serra didn’t factor into the finish in the relay finale, a Padre eked out a thrilling victory in the 300 hurdles to the surprise of many, including himself.
Sophomore Zachary Mitchell qualified in the top three, but knew the competition would be stiff in the finals.
The underclassman took the lead around the turn towards the final stretch with a handful of competitors right on his heels. Everyone in the field safely cleared the second-to-last hurdle, but with the finish line within reach, Mitchell and two other race leaders all clipped the final hurdle, leading to a dramatic finish.
“My heart just stopped for a minute once I hit that hurdle,” Mitchell, a Belmont resident, said. “I was panicking a little on the inside but I knew I just had to keep moving and get to the finish line. I knew I had some of the best hurdlers in the league right on my tail.”
Mitchell gathered himself and stayed upright to lean forward and edge Mitty’s Cameron Vaca by three-hundredths of a second to claim first place with a time of 41.42.
Mitchell also placed third in the boys 110 hurdles in 16.86 to earn a CCS spot in both events.
In the girls championships, Notre Dame sophomore Melissa Oeser finished fourth in the discus in 94-11, a PR.
However, the Tigers sophomore from Belmont needed to finish in the top two to qualify for CCS.
“I wasn’t able to qualify, but I was really happy to crack 90 (feet) today,” Oeser said. “I hadn’t done that in a while. My coach just told me to stay low on my throws, and that really helped me improve during the event today.”
Serra’s Andrew Menzel (Belmont) finished fourth in the 1600 in 4:29.85. Two of his teammates earned sixth-place finishes: Daniel Colom (Daly City) in the 800 in 2:01.36 and Carsten Stann (Burlingame) in the 3200 (10:07.19).