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The San Clemente boys track and field team put its mark on CIF State Championship history on Saturday, May 27, at Buchanan High School in Clovis.
In the first running of the 4×800-meter relay in CIF State Championship history, four Triton juniors—Brett Ephraim, Jackson Brownell, Pierce Clark and Taj Clark—jumped ahead to win the event’s inaugural state title by just over half a second.
Photos Courtesy of Jimmy Su Photography
Ephraim put the Tritons in second after the first leg trailing Long Beach Wilson by 0.7 seconds. Brownell pushed San Clemente into a tie with host Buchanan after the second leg. Pierce Clark then sent the Tritons ahead of second-place Menlo by 0.89 seconds, and Taj Clark sealed the state championship by staying ahead of Menlo by a margin of 0.51 seconds.
The San Clemente foursome clocked a time of 7:38.59, which was the fastest time in California this season in the event at any meet or invitational. San Clemente ran a time of 7:45.93 at CIF-SS Masters on May 20 to qualify for the state meet. The Tritons only ran the event two other times this season on March 4 at the Earl Engman Relays, a first-place finish and on April 8 at the Arcadia Invitational.
The 4×800-meter relay was the first addition to the CIF State program since girls pole vault in 1995.
In addition to the first-place gold as part of the Triton relay team, Taj Clark also reached the podium as an individual in the 800-meter run. Clark was in sixth at the 400-meter mark and kept pace to finish in fourth place with a time of 1:53.41.
In the preliminaries on Friday, May 26, the junior finished eighth at 1:53.89. Clark ran a time of 1:52.84 in a second-place finish at the CIF-SS Masters meet to qualify for state, and his personal best came this season in a win at the South Coast League Finals with a time of 1:52.60.
In other events, Juan Chantaca finished out his San Clemente career in the 3,200 meters. The UC Irvine-bound senior finished in 17th with a time of 9:10.89. Chantaca set a personal record at the CIF-SS Masters meet to qualify for state with a mark of 9:01.86.
Also, senior Griffin Schwab competed in the finals for the high jump, but he failed to record a cleared attempt. In the preliminary round, Schwab cleared a height of 6 feet, 5 inches, which matched his mark at CIF-SS Masters. Schwab hit his personal record of 6 feet, 6 inches three times this season in the CIF-SS Division 1 Finals, in a dual meet at Dana Hills and at his home Triton Invitational.