Finals kick takes Morzenti back to states, Bears set relay record

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald
Three Bears who never lost, left to right, seniors Chris Morzenti, Jarrod Althaus-Cressman and Drew Miller were members of Mount Shasta High School boys track and field teams that won league and section championships four years in a row. They also ran on the 4 by 400 relay team that set new school records last year and this year; and Morzenti won the Section Finals 1600m for the second year in a row Friday in Cottonwood to qualify for the State Championships.

Mount Shasta High School senior Chris Morzenti, known for his finishing kick, needed another one to win Friday’s Northern Section Finals 1600m and qualify for a third trip to the California State Track and Field Championships.

This time it wasn’t rival Ben Harper of Trinity who forced Morzenti into overdrive over the final 200 meters. It was Shasta High School junior Andrew Skoy.

While Morzenti was the only Mt. Shasta area athlete to win at the Track and Field Finals in Cottonwood, others brought home medals for finishing in the top 5 and/or broke personal records in their final event of the 2016 high school season.

In a competition that includes schools of all sizes in the Northern Section, only the winner of each event is guaranteed a spot in the state championships.

Morzenti and 4 by 400m relay teammates Drew Miller, Jarrod Althaus-Cressman and Jaden Anderson broke the school record set last year and finished second to Paradise. They ran 3:28.33 to edge Chico (3:28.92) and finish behind Paradise (3:24.51).

Morzenti, Miller and Althaus-Cressman were recognized during last week’s team awards ceremony for being part of Mount Shasta boys teams that won league and section championships each of the past four years.

Other Bears to finish in the top 5 at the Section Finals were:

• Junior Ryan Hering – 4th in the 800m with a personal record of 1:59.61;

• Junior Jaden Anderson – 4th in the 1600m in a personal record of 4:33.30;

• Junior Nick Schwartz – 4th in the 200m with a personal record of 23.13; and

• Drew Miller – 5th in the 400m in 53.21.

Mount Shasta freshman Marissa Bonivert set a personal record of 12:04.8 in the 3200m to place 8th; and Miller (52.7) and Anderson (52.4) had personal best splits in the 4 by 400 relay.

Other top competitors from the area included:

• Caroline Ristuccia of Golden Eagle Charter School, who placed 6th in the girls high jump at 5-feet. It was her third consecutive year at the Section Finals in an event that has been getting a progressively stronger field. In 2014, Ristuccia placed 3rd at the Finals as a freshman by clearing 4-8. Last year, she placed 2nd at 5-1.

This year, three girls cleared 5-2, and Kaylee Shoemaker of Corning won it for the second year in a row at 5-4, an inch higher than her winning mark of 5-3 in 2015.

Freshman Teagan Ford of Etna tied for 3rd at 5-2.

• Weed junior Taran Miller set a personal record of 2:07.93 to place 9th in the 800m.

• Junior Kristine Lujan and sophomore Sarina Bray of Mount Shasta both cleared 7-6 in the girls pole vault, as did Weed freshman Jill Turner.

Lujan placed 8th based on fewer misses; Bray and Turner tied for 9th.

Bray equaled her personal record, while Lujan and Turner have previous best marks of 8-feet.

• Mount Shasta junior Tyyler McKnight threw the discus 104-9;

• Mount Shasta junior Emily Andrus ran the 200m in 27.7;

• Amanda Bonivert ran the 1600m in 5:40.9; and

• The Mount Shasta boys 4 by 100m relay team took a DQ.

Morzenti’s final Finals kick

Morzenti earned Section Finals medals for the fourth year in a row, a streak that started when he placed 3rd in the 800m as a freshman in 2013.

He went to state as a sophomore after placing 2nd in the NSCIF 1600m, then won the 1600m the past two years while also winning medals with the Bears 4 by 400m relay teams that placed second last year and this year.

As described by Mount Shasta High School coach Steve Nesheim, Las Plumas’s Brian Hastings “took out the pace after 600 meters forcing Morzenti and Skoy to increase their pace to stay in contention” in Friday’s 1600m race. “The result,” according to Nesheim, “was a faster, more exciting race for all… and a personal record for Hastings at 3rd place... just like he planned.”

Morzenti won it in 4:24.67, more than a second ahead of Skoy’s 4:25.97. Hastings, a sophomore, finished in 4:29.54, while Jaden Anderson earned a top-five medal by placing 4th with his best time ever.

Skoy went on to defeat Trinity’s Ben Harper in the 3200m, 9:41.02 to 9:42.51, while Morzenti chose not to compete in either the 800m or 3200m in order to focus on the 4 by 400 relay.

Morzenti ran his personal bests the past two years at the state championships. He finished in 4:24.05 and placed 25th as a sophomore, then placed 13th last year in 4:17.67. His best time so far this season was 4:22.17 at the Division III Championships May 20.

The 2016 State Championships are scheduled for Friday, June 3, in Fresno.