Holtville High School senior Alan Jimenez (1) runs in the Imperial Valley League 800-meter finals. Jimenez will be competing in three events at the CIF-San Diego Section Division III Championship Meet at Valley Center High on Saturday, June 12. | CAMILO GARCIA JR. PHOTO
VALLEY CENTER — For the first time he can remember, longtime Holtville High School track and field coach Gerardo Lara has four athletes who have qualified for the CIF-San Diego Section Division III Finals set to run at Valley Center High here on Saturday, June 12.
With four athletes in the finals, Lara said he is expecting for the Vikings to have their first-ever CIF champion crowned on Saturday when senior Alan Jimenez takes to the track.
“He won the 800 (meter run) at the qualifying meet,” Lara said. “I expect him to be even faster for this meet with the competition driving him.”
Jimenez will be busy on Saturday, running in the 800-meter race, the 1,600-meter race and finishing with the 3,200-meter competition.
“The 800 (meter race) is more difficult to me,” said the 18-year-old Jimenez. “There is some strategy in the 800 but the main focus is just on going fast. There is more strategy in the 1,600 and a lot more strategy in the 3,200.”
Lara said that Jimenez could be crowned champion in either the 800 or 1,600 and wouldn’t be surprised to see him finish in the top-3 and medal in the 3,200 as well. The senior’s qualifying time currently has him first in the 800 and third in the 1,600.
“It’s going to be difficult but I want to go out there and get two CIF championships,” Jimenez said. “That’s what I’ve been training for and that’s what I’ve been aiming for this year.”
Also competing for the Vikings at the Division III championship meet will be freshman Lillian Strahm. The distance runner will be competing in the 3,200-meter (two-mile) race and is the first freshman from Holtville to make it to the championship meet.
“She’s running really well and for just being a freshman she doesn’t seemed bothered by the fact it’s a championship meet,” Lara said. “We, as her coaches, are still trying to get to know her and learn what training she responds to best and she’s just going and there and running.”
Holtville High senior Cierra Dammarell qualified for the championship meet in the shot put and is going in as the sixth-seeded athlete in the event after last week’s qualifying meet. Dammarell won the Imperial Valley League title in the shot put, but her effort at the qualifying meet wasn’t her best, so Lara has high expectations for her come Saturday.
“I think she has the potential to be top-5 and possibly even top-3 and medal if she can go out there and get a personal-best,” he said.
The final athlete competing at the finals for the Vikings is sophomore Julian Reyna who will take part in the triple jump. Lara is hoping the newbie to the triple jump can get into the top-10 as he continues to learn the complicated event.
“He’s really just learning the event but he’s talented enough that he could have a terrible day and still get a good distance,” Lara said.
Between 15 and 20 schools will be competing at the Division III championship meet at Valley Center while the Division II schools will be competing at the same time at Mt. Carmel High School in San Diego and the Division I schools will compete at Del Norte High School in San Diego.