Hillmen rule the Relays

Placer boys dominate while Del Oro girls show off their depth
By: Eric J. Gourley Journal Sports Writer
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Brett Crider learned last spring what a wonderful measuring stick the historic Le Febvre Relays can be. A longtime basketball player with a naturally strong leap, Crider started focusing on the jumps for Placer High’s track and field team. He surprised himself at the Relays last year, going on to break a 36-year-old school record in the triple jump later in the season. “People figure out that they’re a lot better than they think they are. That’s what I found out here last year,” said Crider, who eventually missed qualifying for the CIF State Championships by one place. “It’s a special meet because it’s really old. I just love it. It’s a great, well-run, quality meet.” Crider continued his success in the field events Saturday at Placer, helping the Hillmen win the 72nd Le Febvre Relays, their fourth straight victory at the meet. Placer more than doubled second-place Del Oro’s points total. The Golden Eagles returned the favor on the girls side, finishing with nearly twice as many points as the Hillgals. Combined, Placer edged Del Oro 141-136 on a sunny day dominated by the former league rivals. “I love this meet,” said senior Lucas Stancliffe, who ran strong legs for Placer’s winning 4x400, 4x800 and distance medley relays. “It’s our home track meet. I absolutely love my school and love my relays. It’s bigger than all of us competing here. It’s seventy-something years old. It’s not just ‘let’s go to some school and do some relay.’ It’s tradition. It means something.” Crider, a senior, helped the Hillmen to victories in high jump and triple jump and second place in long jump. Other impressive performances in the boys field events came from juniors Keith Quinn, Koal Swisley, Kaj Niegmann and Luke Roberts and seniors Pete Porata and Louie Cree. Junior Darren Centi and senior Asher Gotzmer were both part of multiple winning relays for Placer, which also won the 4x65 shuttle hurdles. The Del Oro boys’ most impressive performance was a third-place finish in a blazing 4x100 field. The Eagles finished in 43.64 seconds, just behind Bella Vista (43.42) and winner Laguna Creek (43.30). Del Oro was the runner-up in the 4x400, shot put and discus, and third in the 4x200 and triple jump. The major highlight of the day for the Colfax boys was senior Nick Read’s third place in the open two-mile. In the girls 3,200, senior Shannon Harcus won in an impressive 11 minutes, 19.56 seconds. “That’s fast,” coach Rick Foley said. “That puts her top-three all-time at Placer High.” The Hillgals placed second in pole vault and discus and third in the 4x400, but Del Oro stole the show with six victories in 14 events. “Everybody brings their A-game because everyone wants to be a part of the LeFebvre tradition,” said Placer senior Kayla Reeves, who had a stellar day in the sprint events along with senior teammate Cauleen Doughty. “It’s good to be able to say you won here.” The Eagles won the 4x65 shuttle hurdles, 4x100, 4x800, 4x200, triple jump and pole vault. Caitlyn Devitt-Payne anchored the 4x800 and ran a strong mile in a third-place distance medley as the Del Oro girls won their third consecutive invitational to start the spring. “Our goal today was to not overrun any events,” coach Jake Hardey said. “Their legs were fresh and they ran well, but we’re lucky to have that depth.” Hardey was balancing his athletes’ schedules on Saturday, Del Oro’s junior prom. “We approach the meet with a real sense of fun,” Hardey said. “We don’t get a chance to do too many relay meets where everybody is working together. We’re really lucky to have some really talented kids.” Hardey will take a whopping 33 athletes to the prestigious Stanford Invitational next weekend. Placer will also have a strong showing at the meet. The Colfax girls won the discus and placed third in pole vault on Saturday. In junior varsity boys competition, Placer held off Del Oro 66-49.