Stark soars to record height at 92nd Russell Cup

Connor Stark had the crowd clapping for him on Saturday at the 92nd Russell Cup, and the Oak Park junior delivered by setting a meet record in the pole vault.

Stark cleared 15-6 on his first attempt to beat the mark of 15-4, set in 2005 by Johnny Quinn of St. Margaret’s.

Stark’s performance earned him the outstanding male athlete award and helped Oak Park win the varsity boys team competition and the grand sweepstakes of the meet that features schools in CIF Division 4.

Oak Park also won the varsity girls and grand sweepstakes with 199 points, beating Oaks Christian by 10 points

Ebony Crear, a freshman at Maranatha, was named the outstanding female athlete of the meet. She won three frosh-soph events and was part of a winning 4×400 relay team that set a meet record in the frosh-soph division with a time of 4:06.36. It shattered the previous mark of 4:14.55, set by L.A. Baptist in 2000.

Crear’s 100 time of 12.67 was only 15-hundreths off the frosh-soph meet record of Olympic champion Allyson Felix.

Her other wins came in the 100 hurdles (15.53) and 300 hurdles (46.55).

Stark, the No. 1 junior vaulter in the state and ranked third overall with a best of 16-1, didn’t enter the competition until the bar was at 14-6. He cleared that height with ease, which caught the attention of the stadium announcer, who alerted the crowd.

“I’m really excitied about that part of it,” Stark said about setting the varsity meet record. “I’m trying to become the best in the state. I’ve been close for awhile but it just hasn’t quite gone for me yet.”

Stark switched poles before attempting 15-6 and he was pleased how everything worked out.

“It’s the second time I got on that pole and the first time I actually got in the pit,” he said.

His goal this season is to clear 16-5.

“My coach his junior year in high school cleared 16-5, and my goal is pretty much to beat that,” he said.

Stark set the frosh-soph meet record last year at 14-9.

Connor Reck of Santa Ynez pushed his body to the limit by doing a demanding 400-800 double and a leg on the winning 4×400 relay. Reck is one of the top 800 runners in state with a best time of 1:55.80. He won a close 400 race against St. Bonaventure’s Eric Holguin on Saturday with a time of 49.60 before running his specialty.

“That actually was my first open 400 this year,” the Harvard-bound Reck said. “I’ve been doing 4x4s (relay) and the mile and 800, and now I’ve switched to the 4-8 combo and that was my lieftime PR by eight-tenths of a second.”

In the 800, Reck was overtaken on the backstretch of the second lap by Crespi’s Shane MacMiller and finished second in 1:56.81. MacMiller won in 1:56.03.

“I’m pretty happy with my time,” he said. “I can defintely feel that 400 had a toll on me, but I thought I finished really strong. Once I drop that 400 by CIF I’ll be able to drop five seconds off that time. I’m doing the 4-8 combo to train.”

He plans continue his training at next Saturday’s County Championships.

Reck and his Santa Ynez teammates ran a season best and established a meet record in winning the 4×400 relay. The Pirates ran 3:23.84, beating the old mark of 3:24.72 set by Oak Park in 1989.

Oaks Christian didn’t bring its top sprinters, electing to send them to the Mt. SAC Invitational. That opened the door for Kiel Alcaraz of Desert Christian. He won the boys 100 in 11.07, beating Ronnie Camacho of Oaks Christian (11.18) and Cody Uhrig of Santa Ynez (11.33).

Cameron Stevens of Oak Park took the 200 in 22.66.

Oak Park’s Sydney Lewis swept the girls sprints, taking the 100 in 12.39 and 200 in 25.31.

Annie Mooney of San Luis Obispo’s Mission Prep set a meet record in the 1600 with a time of 5:02.35. The old mark was 5:04.12.

In the 300 hurdles, Carpinteria’s Shelby Dunlap appeared to be headed to victory, but Flintridge Prep’s Kate Kennedy came on late and overtook her at the last hurdle.

“I didn’t see her and I didn’t hear her either,” Dunlap said. “It was kind of a surprise, but I don’t think I could have done anything else.”

The 92nd Russell Cup highlighted some future stars. Crespi’s Jabrian Blackwell set the frosh-soph meet record in the 200 at 22.54, edging Oaks Christian’s Terry Johnson (22.60). The old record was 22.81.

Blackwell ran 11.13 to win the 100 meters, missing the meet record by two-hundreths of a second.

Kyle Brown of Maranatha set the frosh-soph meet recod in the 400 at 50.55, eclipsing the old mark of 51.30 set in 2003.

Oaks Christian’s boys frosh-soph 4×100 team clocked a record time of 43.89, beating last year’s record of 44.32, also set by the Lions.

In other team results, Oaks Christian won the boys sweepstakes and the frosh-soph boys. La Reina won the girls sweepstakes and Maranatha took the frosh-soph girls title.