The article below originally appeared on MercuryNews.com and is being reprinted with permission.
Show up early on Friday to secure premium parking at College of San Mateo. With school still in session, it’s about to get crowded.
Vans carrying the finalists for the NorCal track and field championships are sure to fill the parking lot next to the tennis courts. The CSM baseball team will host a four-team Super Regional. Ditto for the softball team.
CSM is the epicenter of community college sports on Friday.
“It seems just about every sport except badminton or golf,” CSM track and field coach Joe Mangan said. “I’m not sure that’s what was on the board’s mind when they granted the funds to develop those facilities, but it certainly was in my mind. I just didn’t know we were going to have so much crossover.”
The action begins with the field events at 10 a.m. (men’s hammer throw and pole vault, women’s shot put and long jump).The running events kick off at 1 p.m. with the women’s steeplechase and conclude at 5:20 p.m. with the men’s 1,600-meter relay.
The Bulldogs will be well-represented in the throws, with Nikki Uikifili competing in the shot, discus, hammer and javelin. Nikki graduated from Mills-Millbrae in 2010, her brother Josh is 2 years older. Josh Uikifili is also competing in the NorCal finals, his events the shot and the hammer. Teammate Evan McDaniel is even older at 25 years old, but he is considered a freshman at CSM.
“I think both these guys represent the quintessential community college athlete,” Mangan said.
McDaniel stopped competing in track after graduating from high school in Nevada. He earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Nevada-Reno, which doesn’t support track and field, and moved with a friend to the Bay Area, where McDaniel found out he was eligible to compete at the J.C. level.
A state qualifier in the shot and discus his senior year in high school, McDaniel is a NorCal finalist in the shot, discus and javelin.
“I’m much, much stronger now,” said McDaniel, who stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 250 pounds. “I was just a skinny kid in high school, I just happened to be good at throws.”
Also representing CSM in the javelin are Zeke Edwards (Sequoia-Redwood City), Nathan Wright and Anthony Capitulo.
On the track, Damian Ross qualified for the finals of the 100-meter dash. Freshman teammate Roman Skovronski was the NorCal leader in the 400 hurdles for most of the season and set the top time at last week’s trials.
For Skovronski, who was a CIF state finalist his senior year at Newark Memorial, success was expected but not a given.
“You’re never quite sure how a kid is going to make the transition from 300 to 400,” Mangan said.
“The extra three hurdles is a lot,” said Skovronski, a San Mateo resident who qualified for the junior nationals that will take place June 15-17 at Indiana University.
The CSM baseball team takes the field at 11 a.m. against Diablo Valley College, whose ace is Nicholas Pasquale — an NCAA Div. I bounce back from St. Mary’s. The Bulldogs (29-10) counter with ERA state leader Clint Terry and co-ace Daniel Chavez, who was on the 2010 USF roster after graduating from Serra-San Mateo.
But to advance to the state tournament, CSM will need help from Clay Bauer, who signed a letter of intent to Oregon State, and the rest of the pitching staff.
“There is some strategy that goes into preparing your pitching staff,” CSM coach Doug Williams said. “When you get to fourth, fifth games in this thing — even third games for that matter — it’s who is available. And we’ll look at it that way.”
The second game, which is scheduled for 3 p.m., pits Ohlone and Cosumnes River.
The CSM softball team had a 20-game win streak snapped by Ohlone at the end of the regular season. The previous loss was a mercy-rule contest against Sierra. Ohlone and Sierra take on each other immediately after CSM (38-4) hosts Diablo Valley. First pitch is at 2 p.m.
“It doesn’t really matter where you play or what color uniform you wear,” CSM coach Nicole Borg said. “It’s just a matter of going out and playing your best.”
CSM may need to play as few as three or as many as five games to reach the state tournament. If ace Michele Pilster (28-3) is unable to pitch every inning, the Bulldogs will rely on either Amelia Shales (Notre Dame-Belmont) or Ashley Miller (Wooside).
“(Pilster) has gotten the job done throughout the season in big games,” Borg said. “But if she can’t go that long, that’s where opportunity for other players comes in — and let’s see if they’re ready.”