Coco Putnam won the 400m dash and the 300m hurdles on her home track to lead the Laguna Beach High School girls varsity to a fourth place finish out of 28 teams at the Trophy Invitational Saturday, March 21. Charles Warner finished eighth in the 110m hurdles to score the only point for short-handed Laguna boys, who finished last out of 33 teams.
A near capacity crowd saw nine meet records fall under ideal conditions, as 1,925 athletes from California and Nevada turned out for the 46th edition of the meet, which was started in 1937 by legendary coach Red Guyer as a way for small schools like Laguna to compete with others their own size.
Current girls’ coach Steve Lalim and boys’ coach Scott Wittkop revived the meet in 2010 after a 17-year hiatus. It has grown in size and popularity each year since. “It’s a big meet with a small meet feel,” said Lalim. “Usually when a school comes once, they come back.”
Putnam ran a personal best 58.61 in the 400m. She also anchored the 4×100 and 4×400 relay teams, which finished third and second respectively. But it’s the unique challenge of leaping eight 30-inch hurdles over a 300-meter course that Putnam enjoys most. “The whole race is like one big game,” she said. “That’s why I like it.”
If she can trim about 1.5 seconds off her best time of 44.8, Putnam believes her goal of making it to state in the hurdles is within reach. “This year I would just like to go past CIF finals,” she said. Her ultimate goal, however, is to continue the “game” in college.
Jackie Cenan finished third in the shot put and fifth in the discus, showing no ill affects of a knee injury that limited her time on the basketball court this past winter. “It feels great,” she said.
Cenan switched from running to throwing events last season on Lalim’s suggestion. Her mark of 35-02.75 in the shot on Saturday was about a foot shy of her personal best, but nearly six feet further than the 29.07 she threw to finish third in the frosh/soph division at the 2014 Trophy Invite.
Apparently all the weight training has paid off for the two-sport star. The junior looks like a lock to break Shirlyn Weenig’s 1984 record of 37-7.75, one of the school’s oldest track & field records along with the 135-8 Weenig threw in the discus to finish fifth at State finals that same year.
“I’m throwing like 37 in practice,” said Cenan. “I love having something to work towards, especially that school record. It gets me going.”
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