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La Jolla High girls track ends on a high note

La Jolla High School’s girls track and field team has been through plenty of ups and downs throughout the 2007 season, but when it came down to the final event of the postseason, the Vikings ended on a major high.

La Jolla saved its best for last, capturing the CIF-San Diego Section Division II championship on May 26. The Vikings’ 63 points helped them edge second-place University City (58). According to Vikings coach Roger Karnopp, it was the first section championship in school history for the team.

The Vikings did it with three CIF-SDS Division II champions and plenty of others who placed in the top three.

Karnopp beamed when talking about his team, which had just two seniors on its roster: UC Berkeley-bound Dana Hoolko and UC Santa Barbara-bound Lauren Christensen.

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“I couldn’t be more proud of these girls,” Karnopp said. “When anything was on the line, they kept the focus and cool and just got the job done. They know my philosophy about trying to do their best. They know that on any given day they might not perform better than another day, but they were trying to do their best, and that is all I can ask for.”

The top performances of the day came from Hoolko in the pole vault, Ashley Fu in the long jump and Nihal Kayali in the 1,600. All were Division II individual champions.

Hoolko cleared a height of 11 feet, good enough for second overall and tops in Division II by a full four inches.

“Her performance was satisfying for me, but even more so for her,” Karnopp said of Hoolko. “She’s had a really rough year. She injured her planting ankle playing soccer over the winter, and she hasn’t been the same all year. She’s thrilled to have done what she’s done considering the circumstances of the injury.”

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Fu achieved a personal record mark of 17 feet, 2 inches.

Kayali ran a personal record time of 5 minutes, 6.94 seconds in the 1,600 meters, winning the Division II championship and placing fourth overall. Courtney Avampato placed fourth in the Division II 1,600, clocking a time of 5:15.55.

"(Kayali) is just an outstanding young lady,” Karnopp said. “She doesn’t get uptight. She stays relaxed when she gets out there.”

There were plenty of athletes who helped make La Jolla’s effort a winning one. In addition to Hoolko, two other athletes placed in the pole vault. Melia Plotkin and Christensen tied for third place, each clearing a height of 10 feet.

In the middle distances, Tess Plant-Thomas was the Vikings’ top runner, placing second in the Division II heat of the 800 with a time of 2:17.78.

Allyn Meyer contributed a key point with her performance in the triple jump. She placed sixth with a leap of 34-6, just three inches shy of her personal record.

La Jolla’s section title was not complete until the last event of the meet, though, as the Vikings’ 4x400 meter relay team won its heat with a time of 4:02.69. The all-sophomore quartet of Kayali, Avampato, Christie Richmond and Plant-Thomas broke their own school record in the event by nearly four seconds.

Hoolko’s performance was notable, but hardly surprising to her La Jolla teammates, Karnopp or anyone around her. She won the Division II championship for the fourth straight year, and qualified for the CIF-State meet for the third time in her remarkable high school career.

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The girls pole vault competition was set to begin at 6 p.m. on June 1 and 2.

La Jolla Country Day also had six athletes compete in the CIF-SDS Finals, but none qualified for the state meet. They were Taylor Sarkaria in the boys pole vault, Alex Maire in the boys long jump and boys triple jump, Andy Altman in the boys discus, Courtney Rockwood in the girls long jump, Tricia Decker in the girls pole vault and Lauren Pischel in the girls 3,200.

Pischel won the Division II heat of the 3,200 with a time of 11:24.30.