One of their brightest stars was sidelined by an injury, but the Mount Shasta High School boys track and field team overcame a slow start to win the Northern Section Division 3 track and field championship by a wisp Friday at College of the Siskiyous in Weed.
Mount Shasta’s girls scored 103 points to finish second to Etna (152).
Ten Bears earned berths in this Friday’s Northern Section Finals in Cottonwood, which only takes the winner of each Division event or an alternate if the winner does not compete.
Head coach Steve Nesheim pointed to numerous key performances that could have made the difference between a first or second place finish for the Bears, including a late surge from fifth to fourth place in the 3200m by Eric Ault.
“With minutes to go in the meet I noticed Eric Ault was in 5th place by 5 meters with a lap to go in the 3200m (a Rio Vista runner in from of him),” Nesheim wrote in an e-mail report. “I turned away to do something else and saw that Eric had blasted the last lap to claim 4th by 11 seconds over the Rio runner.  A four point switch!”
The Bears finished on top with 106 points to Rio Vista’s 104 and qualified five boys to this week’s Northern Section Finals, including their 4 by 400 relay team of Austin Herrick, Lars Warn, Matt Houston and Alan Evans, who finished first in a  new school record of 3:36.8.
It was a turn-around from last year’s Division 3 championships, when Rio Vista finished first with two more points than the Bears.
With only the varsity event winners earning automatic qualification to this week’s Northern Section Finals, Herrick is moving on in three events. The sophomore, healthy for the first time in weeks, according to coach Nesheim, came from behind to win the 200 in a personal best time of 23.1 and finished first in the long jump at 19-5.5.
Warn won the 800m in a personal record time of 2:07.8, defeating competitors who had beaten him during the regular season.
In the 3200m, Mitchell Nesheim broke away from Trinity’s Chris Watanabe with two laps to go and placed first in a personal best time of 11:02.2.
The Bears won the title without any points from Ryan Cazneaux, who was in position to possibly win the 100m, 110 hurdles and 300 hurdles and anchor the 4 by 100 relay team.
It wasn’t until the day of the meet that they found out Cazneaux was unavailable because he had re-aggravated a knee injury.
“It was like being the Lakers and going on without Kobe Bryant,”?coach Nesheim said.
Suddenly, what appeared to be a 25 point cushion shrunk to just a couple points, and Nesheim said the team’s morale dropped a few notches, too.
Early in the meet, things weren’t going as planned, the coach said. “We were getting seconds, thirds etc., but no firsts.”
Points are awarded 10-8-6-4-2-1 for first through sixth place. 
After the first six events, with points awarded 10-8-6-4-2-1 for first through sixth place, the Bears were a bit behind.
“We let several boys drop an event here or there thinking a Divisional championship was probably out of reach,”?Nesheim said. “By dropping events, individuals could concentrate on their better events and perhaps qualify to the Section Finals next Friday at West Valley High School.”
Only the first place finishers automatically qualified for the Finals.
With no scoreboard to show points at track and field meets, it wasn’t easy to tell once the Bears started pulling closer.
“The group in the press box works very hard and fast to process results, scores and awards,” Nesheim said. “Opportunities to announce scores in progress are rare.  By the end of the meet the press box informed us we had won by the slimmest of margins – 2 points.”
In retrospect, Nesheim said “any small results change could have flipped the meet in favor of Rio Vista.”
And it wasn’t just first place finishes that mattered.
Brendan Hickey had a personal best of 19-3.5 to place third in the long jump.
“The jumps are freaky,” Nesheim said. “Inches can make a hugh difference week to week.”
Hickey’s jump of 18-11.75 from the previous week’s Shasta Cascade League Championships would have placed him fourth at the Division III meet and meant two fewer points for the Bears.
The Bears’ high jumpers, Eric Rutherford, Tim Jaegel and Jordan Hanna placed 4th, 5th and 6th at Friday’s Division meet to add 7 points.
In the end, Nesheim said, “It was a great relief for it all to be over.”
Bear girls second
For Mount Shasta’s girls team, Kirsten Bree won the 1600m in a personal best time of 5:39.9, and the Bears’ 4 by 400 team of Kendra Woodglass, Megan Ashworth, Lisa Shinohara and Callie Toews claimed a Division championship.
Toews, who set a second record of 63.0 in the 400m while finishing second to Etna’s Emily Loogman, will advance to the Section Finals in that event because Loogman is dropping it.
Mount Shasta had many strong finishes while placing  second to Etna at the meet.
Shinohara had a personal best of 2:36.7 to place third in the 800m; Cary Rogers and Jennifer Rubio finished 3-4 in the 3200; Woodglass had a personal best of 96-3 to place second in the discus, and teammate Courtney Evans was fourth. Woodglass was also second in the 300 hurdles.
Nikki Roda was second in the 100m, third in the 200m and fifth in the long jump.
Ashworth had personal bests in both the 100 and 200 to place third and fourth, respectively.
China Taylor was third in the triple jump; Natasha Watson was fourth in the 100m; and Christina Kane was sixth in the high jump.

For a complete list of Division 3 results:

http://www.athletic.net/TrackAndField/MeetResults.aspx?Meet=64985