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Carmona wins CIF D-1 high jump championship with school record, shares second in section finals

Bernier third at divisional meet, shares fourth in finals

The CIF San Diego Section went from two track and field divisions to three in 2021, and what had been called the division preliminaries for the purpose of placing athletes in the all-division section finals are now called the division championships.

Fallbrook High School senior Sammy Carmona won the Division 1 boys high jump championship at the divisional championship meet May 11 at Del Norte High School while sharing second in what is now called the section championships, and Fallbrook senior Aiden Bernier placed third in the boys pole vault at the divisional championship and shared fourth in that event in the section championship meet May 18 at Mount Carmel High School.

Not only did Carmona win the Division 1 boys high jump championship, but his height of 6’8” set a school record. During the 2022 Valley League meet, then-senior Max Meisterlin cleared 6’7”, and that school record stood until Carmona’s jump at the divisional meet.

“It was something that he talked about at the beginning of the year,” said Fallbrook head coach Marco Arias.

Carmona first competed in the high jump as a junior and cleared 6’4” twice last year including at the Valley League meet. In Fallbrook’s second meet of 2024, March 7, Carmona set a personal record of 6’5” during the home dual meet against Rancho Buena Vista.

Carmona improved his personal record to 6’6” at the March 9 Don Jones Bronco Invitational meet at Rancho Bernardo High School and matched that April 11 during the home dual meet against Escondido. His height of 6’4” at this year’s Valley League meet was the seventh time during 2024 that he had cleared that height or higher.

The 2024 divisional meet included 26 boys high jumpers, and 24 of those cleared the initial height of 5’4”. Seven boys reached 6’0” at the division championships. Carmona, Torrey Pines senior Jackson Gross, and Bonita Vista senior Tyler Scott were the only high jumpers to clear 6’2”.

Scott was unsuccessful at 6’4”, giving him third place. Carmona and Gross both cleared that distance, and they also both went over the bar at 6’6”.

Gross was unable to clear 6’8”. Carmona’s success at that distance thus gave him not only the Division 1 championship but also the school record.

“He put one great jump together and was able to accomplish it,” Arias said.

The Fallbrook High School boys pole vault school record is 15’7” and was set in 1993 by then-senior Jason Rice. Bernier fell short of that school record May 11 but set a personal record of 15’6”. “He performed really well, and all of his jumps technically were very good,” Arias said.

Bernier cleared 14’6” at last year’s CIF finals and improved his personal record to 14’7” at the Don Jones Bronco Invitational. He set a new personal record of 15’0” March 14 during the home dual meet against Vista and cleared 15’0” three other times during the regular season.

At the league meet, Bernier cleared 13’6” and placed second with Fallbrook senior Damien Votaw having the winning height of 14’0”, which was a personal record.

The 26 boys in the Division 1 pole vault started at 11’6”. Eight reached 14’0” including Bernier and Votaw.

A high jumper or pole vaulter has three chances to clear each height, and misses at that height or at lower heights are used as the tiebreaker. Two pole vaulters including Votaw cleared 14’0” but not 14’6”, and Votaw was given eighth place.

Three of the six pole vaulters who cleared 14’6” also cleared 15’0”, and all three of them were also successful at 15’6”. Bernier was one of those. “He had plenty of height over the bar,” Arias said.

“He went out with the highest height of his career,” said Fallbrook pole vault coach Jim Curran.

“I think that not getting that league championship really focused him into where he needs to be,” Arias said.

The bar was next placed at 16’0”. “He had three good attempts at 16,” Curran said.

None of those were successful. Neither of the other Division 1 pole vaulters who attempted 16’0” cleared that bar at that height. The tiebreaker gave Torrey Pines senior Joey Weisman first, Westview senior Vincent Farenc second, and Bernier third.

“Overall he’s had a successful season,” Arias said. “For him being at that level at that meet was something special.”

Fallbrook junior Wyatt Casillas competed in the two throwing events at the Division 1 championships. His discus throw of 116 feet, 8 inches placed 15th and his shot put distance of 41 feet 0 1/2 inches was 21st.

The only Fallbrook boy in a running event at the Division 1 meet, senior Jose Rivera, completed the 1,600-meter race in 4:38.55 for 20th place.

“They all competed and gave it their best effort,” Arias said. “There was really good competition overall.”

As a team, the Fallbrook boys placed 14th at the Division 1 championships. In past years, team championship points were given only for positions at the finals but were by division; this year Fallbrook was 29th overall as a team at the section championships.

When the divisional meets were considered preliminaries, the athletes in each division preliminaries with the top nine times or distances in each event advanced to the CIF finals. This year the top two athletes or relay teams from each division in each event qualified for the section championships and the remaining 12 championships berths were filled by the best marks from any division.

Nine Division 2 pole vaulters and two Division 3 pole vaulters cleared at least 14’0”, and Votaw was the first alternate for the section championships.

“He came down early and warmed up and actually over-warmed up,” Curran said.

Sage Creek senior Jacob Emerson cleared 16’0” in the Division 2 championship meet for second place, but Emerson was injured during warm-ups and scratched out. Votaw was given the flight in the section championships.

The bar was initially set at 13’6”. Votaw cleared that height but could not reach 14’0”. “He took too many jumps when they were warming up,” Curran said.

Votaw did not compete in the pole vault until he was a sophomore. “He impressed me with his desire and his consistency,” Curran said. “His hard work ethic was just fun to watch.”

The top three athletes or relay team performances in each event at the section championships regardless of division qualified for the state meet, as did any athlete or relay team with an automatic qualifying mark. The qualifying mark for boys pole vault was 15’0”, and nine boys at the San Diego Section championships reached that height. “That’s more than the Southern Section,” Curran said.

(The Southern Section has more than 550 schools in Orange County, Los Angeles County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County, Ventura County, and Santa Barbara County.)

Weisman won the section championship with a height of 16’0”. St. Augustine junior Joey Sbuttoni and Mission Bay senior Chance Rynearson both cleared 15’6” with Sbuttoni placing second due to the tiebreaker. Bernier and Farenc had identical misses and shared fourth place with the other four athletes who cleared 15’0” but no higher being given sixth through ninth.

Counting the divisional championships and the section championships as separate meets, the May 18 meet was the sixth of the year in which Bernier had cleared at least 15’0”. “To be consistent at 15 is really a big deal,” Curran said.

“Overall the whole pole vaulting group as a whole was phenomenal,” Arias said.

Valhalla senior Brandon Doctor won the Division 2 high jump championship by clearing 6’4” with Scripps Ranch senior Deon Halsey placing second at 6’2”. The top Division 3 meet high jumper, Mission Bay senior Brandon Cheeks, had a height of 6’6”.

Gross, Carmona, Cheeks, Doctor, and Halsey were the only high jumpers to clear 6’2” at the section championship meet. Halsey reached no higher than that height and settled for fifth.

The other four were successful on their next jump including Carmona. “He jumped 6’4”, which was respectable,” Arias said.

Gross eventually reached 6’8” to win the section championship. Carmona, Cheeks, and Doctor were unsuccessful at 6’6” and ended the meet with heights of 6’4’.

“It just happens,” Arias said. “These young men, they pretty much all couldn’t have their best days.”

Carmona and Cheeks had identical lower misses and shared second. Doctor received fourth place.

Author Bio

Joe Naiman, Writer

Joe Naiman has been writing for the Village News since 2001


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