Murrieta Mesa Wins State Track Championship
The Murrieta Mesa Boys Track and Field team won their first state track title with a 35-30 victory over Southwestern League Rival Great Oak at Buchanan High’s Veterans Memorial Stadium in Clovis.
Great Oak, the other top contender for the title, won the boys 400-meter relay, and Murrieta Mesa slipped to fifth place. The Southwestern League rivals went back and forth throughout the night, but the Rams still had one big advantage.
As expected, the team championship came down to the final event of the meet, the 1600 relay. Great Oak was clinging to a five-point lead but did not have an entry in the race. Murrieta Mesa needed to finish third or better to win the title.
The Rams put an exclamation point on a historic year, as Matthew Okonkwo, Jermarcus Tate, Davonte Williams and Christian Shakir-Ricks blitzed the field and won in 3 minutes, 10.86 seconds, the fastest time in the nation this year and only .53 seconds off the Inland record set by Perris during the 1983 season.
“The 4×100 did not go anything like we wanted, but one thing about this group is their resiliency,” Ballou said. “They came back and didn’t have a bad event the rest of the night. To have that early setback and still finish on top is exciting.”
Shakir-Ricks said the team had a small gathering before that 1600-meter relay final. “We have three seniors on that relay, and we talked about giving everything we have for our final high school race,” said Shakir-Ricks, who split 45.6 seconds on the anchor leg. “We were going to go out there and run until our legs fell off.”
That relay victory capped a spectacular weekend for Shakir-Ricks. He also won the boys 200-meter championship with a personal-best time of 20.98 seconds. Shakir-Ricks’ fourth podium finish was a third-place effort in the 100 meters. Okonkwo picked up five key points by finishing fourth in the 400 meters.
“I have never seen a kid more competitive than him,” Ballou said. “If we had a snowstorm, it would be the best conditions for him because everyone would be worrying except for him. All he is worried about is going out and competing.”