Time more important than win for Kapiolani Coleman and other stars at Escondido Invitational

Cathedral Catholic's Kapiolani Coleman runs toward the finish to win the girls 100 hurdles during the Escondido Invitational.
(Hayne Palmour IV/For The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Cathedral Catholic’s Kapiolani Coleman admits that she’s getting a little frustrated with the 2023 season.

At the final major non-championship meet, the Escondido Invitational at Escondido High on Friday night, she impressively won both of the hurdle events by a large margin.

But winning isn’t the goal — not for her or many of the competitors in the meet — who were chasing personal records (PRs).

Her winning times of 14.66 and 43.37 were solid as she was joined by the likes of Madison sprinter Amira Shaheed, Point Loma half-miler Manuel Correia and San Marcos hurdler Balamar Izsold.

“I’m not thinking of place, I’m thinking of time,” said Coleman, the state 300-meter hurdle champion a year ago whose best this year is 42.58, which isn’t even the leader. That spot is taken by Torrey Pines’ Karina Janik, who did not compete in the hurdles, at 42.19.

The 14.66, well off her best of 14.04 a year ago.

“I think I need to work on my speed between the hurdles,” said Coleman. “I’ve been focusing on attacking the hurdles.”

One individual who isn’t concerned in the least is Dons coach Dan Geiger.

“She’s struggling a little bit but nothing earth-shattering,” said Geiger. “She is training hard, she’s healthy, she’s a great competitor, so there’s nothing to blame it on. She runs 14.5 or 14.6 every week — she’ll put it together.”

Another runner who destroyed the field but wanted a faster time was Shaheed, who won the girls’ 100 in 12.06, well off her best of 11.66 in the section finals a year ago before injuring her hamstring.

“I’ve been focusing on my mechanics,” said the Warhawks junior. “Today I wanted to work on my start. My dad’s been in my ear but the important thing is to finish the season.

“I’m looking to run under 11.5. Anything under 11.6 is good.”

Her coach and dad, Haneef Shaheed, agreed, adding, “We want her at 11.55 in the 100 and under 24 in the 200 by the end of the season. I honestly believe she’ll be in the top three in the state in the 100.”

Correia decided to let Torrey Pines’ Ryan Thomas lead and then chased him down to improve his section-leading 800-meter time to 1:51.44.

“That’s a good win and a school record,” said the UC Santa Barbara-bound senior. His time bettered the Pointers’ record which was 1:52.36 by Tom Ellsworth back in 1983.

“I’ll run the 800 and 1,600 at CIF and then decide for state.”

As for Izsold, he captured the 110-meter hurdles in 15.21 to win by eight-tenths of a second, but was also well off his season-best 14.85, the section’s second-best time.

“I started the season really well at 16.16 and then ran 14.85,” said Izsold. “I plan to fix a few things in league and section.”

It didn’t take very long for the meet to have its first record as the Steele Canyon girls clocked a yearly section-best in the first event, the 4x100 relay, setting a school record along the way.

The foursome of Jahmyia Richardson, Ily Barclay, Brionna Dickens, and Nicoletta Burkhardt sped to a 48.23, eclipsing the met standard of 48.36 by Torrey Pines in 2016. That also dipped under the all-time school record of 48.51 set in 2019.

“We’ve really worked on our baton handoffs,” said Dickens. “It really made a difference. We were looking for anything better than 48.6. But 48.23 is really good.”

Carlsbad (48.39) and Madison (48.63) were also faster than the 2023 best of 48.64.

Burkhardt came back and collected a personal best winning the 400 in 56.28, the second best time in the section this year behind La Jolla’s Payton Smith’s 54.12.

Brand is a freelance writer.