La Salle's Daniel De La Torre, South Pas' Claire Kieffer-Wright, Muir's Tierra Adams among those who claim CIF titles

WALNUT — On a Saturday afternoon in which advancing to the CIF Southern Section Masters Meet was the day’s top goal, quite a few locals took home championships at the CIF Southern Section Track and Field Divisional Championships at Mt. San Antonio College.

La Salle High’s Daniel De La Torre was the area’s lone dual champion, as the reigning All-Area Track and Field Athlete of the Year flexed his muscles in the Division IV 1,600- and 3,200-meter races.

“I was feeling really healthy today and I just wanted to give everything I had to get to Masters,” De La Torre said. “I had some competition that pushed me.”

De La Torre and the rest of Division IV raced alongside the top runners in Division I, which paired De La Torre against arguably the best runner in Orange County in El Toro senior Juan Gonzalez.

Despite a sluggish pace to the first mile and De La Torre slipping into third midway through the race, the senior pulled to within six seconds of Gonzalez before a full sprint closed De La Torre’s Division IV winning time to 9 minutes, 16.08 seconds, which trailed Gonzalez’ 9:14.42 and was third overall.

“If I had to lose to anyone, I’m glad it was Juan,” De La Torre said.

In the 1,600, with only intradivisional runners, De La Torre breezed to a victory in 4:14.96, which was 10th best overall and also sends to him to next Friday’s Masters Meet at Cerritos College.

Saturday afternoon proved a bittersweet day for South Pasadena High junior Claire Kieffer-Wright.

The defending state high jump champ had no competition in winning the Division III title with a leap of 5 feet, 11 inches.

The mark tied her with A.B. Miller’s Rachel McCoy and left her an inch from tying the all-time CIF Southern Section Division III mark of 6 feet, set by Costa Mesa’s Sharon Day in 2003.

Kieffer-Wright, who opened at 5-3, didn’t fault at a single height until she attempted three tries and hit the bar on each at 6 feet.

“I thought about trying a national and state-leading jump, but I’m happy to win a divisional championship,” said Kieffer-Wright, who finished runner-up last season. “That’s what I was missing.”

While Kieffer-Wright added a new title her to resume, her and the Tigers were unable to defend their Division III title as South Pasadena finished tied for fifth with 33 points. Alemany took the title with 87 points.

Kieffer-Wright wasn’t her squad’s lone winner, though, as senior sprinter Laura Anuakpado took a big lead and then held on for the Division III 400-meter title in 56.13.

Even though Anuakpado finished second only to Serra’s Chimere Ezumah (55.40), she still wasn’t too satisfied.

“I don’t know what happened. I was just really tired,” said Anuakpado, who finished third in the 200 (24.60), but didn’t advance. “My PR is 55 seconds, so this wasn’t that good.”

Continuing the theme of wins was Muir High junior Tierra Adams, who romped to a triumph in the Division IV shot put in 41 feet 9 1/2 inches. The throw was 10th best overall and good enough to put Adams on course for Cerritos College.

The area’s final champion may not run at the Masters Meet, as South Pasadena’s Paul Messana claimed the Division III 800-meter title in 1:55.44, which was 10th best overall and good for first alternate status.

Other qualifiers include the South Pasadena girls’ 4x400 team of Kieffer-Wright, Anuakpado, Kamia Rodil Willis and Anika Renken, which finished fourth (3:51.04) in Division III and eighth overall, and South Pasadena junior Josh Wilson, who finished third in the Division III 3,200 (9:20.86) and was 10th overall.

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