Cerritos College after fine showings Saturday at the CIF Southern
Section Track and Field Championships. But they had an excruciating
wait before finally realizing they were a pair of CIF's best.
Whisman, a senior at Crescenta Valley High, ran the 3,200-meter
boys' competition in 9 minutes 23.76 seconds to finish sixth in
Division I at Cerritos College. Steben, a junior, leaped into the
Masters competition, as well, with a 14-foot, third-place effort in
the Division III pole vault.
In both events, the top 12 qualified for the Masters Meet.
Whisman is the 10th-fastest qualifier heading into the Masters
Meet. Steben, the Mission League champion, is tied for ninth.
Whisman stayed around the warm-up area for the Division II and III
3,200 race to catch his breath and see if his time was good enough to
qualify for Masters.
His mark was just good enough.
"This is exciting," said Whisman, who's the first Crescenta Valley
athlete to advance to the Masters Meet since Emily Forsythe competed
in the high jump in 2000. "This was my goal at the beginning of the
"Now, I want to keep it going. I want to go to state."
Whisman must clock 9:11.21 or finish in the top five at the
Masters Meet to advance to the state competition, which will be held
June 3-4 at Hughes Stadium in Sacramento.
Whisman didn't run a perfect race, as he fell behind the lead pack
with about two laps remaining, but Falcon Coach Mark Evans was "just
glad Rusty gets to run another week."
"It probably wasn't his best race," Evans said of Whisman, who is
the first Falcon male athlete to qualify for Masters since Phil
Gonzalez went to that elite level in 1995, when he also competed in
the 3,200. "I think he's good enough to run faster. The key is to
stay near the lead pack. That's gotta be his focus.
"We live to race another week, and that's all I can ask for."
St. Francis Coach Eric Gleason said Steben -- who is believed to
be the first Golden Knight to advance to Masters since Andrew
Curruthers qualified in 1992 -- has exceeded expectations.
"Andrew is one of the self-motivated kids on our team," Gleason
said. "He's been excited about this all year. He worked year round to
get to that level. His hard work and dedication is unbelievable."
Steben said qualifying for the Masters Meet was a long-term goal
"It was a bit of a reach," said Steben, whose personal best this
year is 14-6. "My biggest goal was getting 15 feet, and that's what
I'm going to shoot for at Masters."
The minimum requirement to qualify for the state meet is 14-11.
* EDGAR MELIK-STEPANYAN covers sports. He can be reached at (818)
637-3226 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.