In third place with just four hurdles to go, it was then that the Huntington Beach High sophomore kicked it into gear and finished with a personal-best time of 36.54, good for a final finish of second place.
Add that finish to his winning his heat in the boys' 110-hurdles (15.97) and Vargas emerged from Moorpark as a two-time qualifier for Saturday's division championships at Cerritos College in Norwalk.
Vargas, who was just one second off the school record (set in 1984, according to Oilers Coach Clim Moore), will be joined at Saturday's finals by senior teammate Michael Loschiavo.
Loschiavo, the Sea View League champion in the pole vault (14 feet 3), cleared 14 feet on his first try at Saturday's prelims, a vault that was enough to secure his advancement to the finals.
"Both of these young men have a great chance to go deep into the postseason," Huntington Coach Clim Moore said. "Michael Loschiavo was a (CIF) Master finalist last season, so I expect him to make it to the Masters. His goal is to go all the way to the State meet. He has the talent to do it. Ramon Vargas is just a sophomore who is performing at a very high level right now. I enjoy just watching him do what he does — win.
"We are very proud of what they have accomplished thus far. It's great for Huntington Beach and for the track program."
Loschiavo, who says he plans to walk-on the track and field team at the University of Arizona next year, says he's focused on Saturday and has one goal in mind.
Well, two, really.
"My aspiration is to break the school record, which is 15 feet 6," he said, adding that he's cleared a personal-best 15-1 this year.
"I'm really focused and feel great. I know it's going to take 100% for me to do it. Actually, my big goal is to make it to State. I've never been."
Loschiavo will be joined at Saturday's CIF Division II finals by his sister, Amy, a sophomore, who qualified in the girls' pole vault with a 10-9 effort.
The performances by Vargas and Michael and Amy Loschiavo were among several outstanding efforts at prelims turned in by athletes from Edison, Fountain Valley and Marina, all of whom also qualified for Saturday's finals at Cerritos College. Field events begin at 10 a.m. and running events at 1 p.m.
Below are the other local athletes who advanced from prelims, listed by their event and prelims time and overall finish:
Division I (at Mission Viejo High)Fountain Valley: Senior Kevin Miller (boys' pole vault, 14-6, eight-way tie for first-place); senior Kyle Middlebrooks (boys' 100-meter dash, 10.62, sixth-place).
Marina: Seniors Jeremy Kennedy and Tyger Morgan (boys' pole vault, 14-6, eight-way tie first-place); junior Karl Wenberg (boys' 800-meters run, 1:54.97).