Once the Central Coast Section Top 8 Track and Field Classic concluded, Piedmont Hills coach Chioke Robinson loaded his record-setting girls relay team into a vehicle and made the late-night drive to Southern California for the Mt. SAC Relays.
Asked when the team arrived at its hotel, Robinson said, "Around 2 or 3 a.m.'' That was just enough time for the bleary-eyed coach to grab a few hours sleep before heading to the track in Walnut.
The Piedmont Hills relay team of Tammy Nguyen, Timarya Baynard, Reonna Collier and Bianca Bryant made the trip worthwhile, lowering the CCS record in the sprint medley (200, 200, 400, 800) for the third time this season Saturday, setting a meet record in 3:59.65. It was the fastest time in the nation for about an hour before a team in Texas ran a little faster.
Last year, Piedmont Hills won the state title in the 4x400 relay and shattered the CCS record in the process, clocking 3:41.14, the third-best time nationally.
Two seniors graduated off that relay team, but Collier, a freshman, transferred to Piedmont Hills from Vanden High in Fairfield. She won both hurdles events at the Top 8 meet and placed a close third in the 100. She has a best of 54.90 in the 400, second-best in the CCS. Nguyen, a senior, has brought her 400 time way down this season, and the Pirates are once again in the mix for a run at the state 4x400 title.
"I think we're capable of going a little faster than last year,'' Robinson said.
Earlier on Saturday at Mt. SAC, Bryant, who placed fourth in the 800 at last year's state meet, ran 2:13.98 to place fourth in the invitational 800. Baynard, coming back from a hamstring strain, ran 57.55 to take fourth in the seeded 400 race.
"My goal is 47.5 in the 400 and 21.5 in the 200,'' Orloff said.
Orloff, who took up track and field his sophomore year after getting cut from the Serra baseball team, placed fourth in the 400 at last year's CCS finals, missing a trip to state by .04. He has used that memory as a constant reminder and motivation.
"This year I want to get to state and make the finals,'' he said. "I'm dedicating the season to my dad, who passed away when I was 3."