The following article is written by Brock Drazen, Athletic Director at Merritt College and Head Coach of the Merritt College Track & Field team, and is used by permission from an announcement sent to all Peralta employees on May 22, 2022.
Our season has come to an end with 2 more state champions this past Saturday at Modesto Junior College. Isela Ochoa won in the 400 hurdles making that 2 for 2 in 2022 and 2023 and Kwaku Owusu won in the 400m for his first state championship. Overall, Merritt took home 5 All American designations with several nice accomplishments on the day. Paul Randall finished 4th in the state in the high jump and just missed by the smallest of margins on his last attempt at 6'8". When the high jump bar fell over, so did I! Oh so close. Isela and Amelia Liao finished 4th and 6th in the 100 hurdles and both set personal bests in the race. Unfortunately, the South just had too much firepower this year and given the rough weather up here all semester, it was going to be a tall order across the board for NorCal. The same was true in the 100 and 200m where Chaison Wesley finished 8th in both races while Kwaku grabbed 4th in the 200m.
Probably the toughest result to swallow was the 4x400m relay. Kwaku was the first leg and starting way out in lane 9. When the gun went off, he thought there was a second gun sound indicating a false start and he stopped running. It was very likely an echo of the nearby fencing or scoreboard. Often when this happens, the starters would see the reaction of a runner and shoot the gun for a restart because of the confusion/unfairness. Nonetheless, they didn't notice Kwaku and I knew my protests at the end of the race were in vain. The situation cost us about 3 seconds as Kwaku got going once he saw everyone else sprinting by. Those 3 seconds would have put us in the hunt for the title but instead, we finished in 8th place. Of course, I spent the day lamenting that result and absorbing the lesson for future races but when all is said and done, it was another successful season. Graduation is upon us and I'll likely send out one more email summarizing the season, the college choices of our grads, and some final words of gratitude.
For now, thank you all for following along on this season's journey! The endings we want are always the toughest to achieve but the journey along the way is where the lessons are learned, the growth and maturity take place, the challenges are met, and the lifelong bonds of friendship are cemented. Our students will take these memories with them wherever they go and they will look back at what we have all provided for them with deep appreciation. I hear that from our alumni regularly. So, I thank you for all you do. Have a great rest of the semester and summer.