Los Osos’ Ashley Anumba is the Sun Girls Track Athlete of the Year

Los Osos High School graduate Ashley Anumba, 18, has been selected as the 2017 Inland Valley Daily Bulletin and San Bernardino Sun Girls Track Athlete of the Year. Anumba will attend the University of Pennsylvannia in the fall. (Photo by Will Lester-Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)
Los Osos High School graduate Ashley Anumba, 18, has been selected as the 2017 Inland Valley Daily Bulletin and San Bernardino Sun Girls Track Athlete of the Year. Anumba will attend the University of Pennsylvannia in the fall. (Photo by Will Lester-Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)
Los Osos’ Ashley Anumba competes in the shotput during the CIF-State track & field finals at Buchanan High in Clovis, CA. Saturday, June 3, 2017.  
TERRY PIERSON,THE PRESS-ENTERPRISE/SCNG
Los Osos’ Ashley Anumba competes in the shotput during the CIF-State track & field finals at Buchanan High in Clovis, CA. Saturday, June 3, 2017. TERRY PIERSON,THE PRESS-ENTERPRISE/SCNG

Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year

Ashley Anumba, Senior, Los Osos

Los Osos High’s Ashley Anumba made such incredible strides as a thrower during her senior season that she had her doubters.

The doubters weren’t among her peers in the throwing community, but rather some track and field web sites. It wasn’t that they thought she cheated, but believed it was a fluke or that there must have been some mistake in measuring the mark.

They reasoned, how else do you explain a discus mark of 170 feet, 10 inches at the Rosemead Invitational on March 11? It was 20 feet farther than her best throw the week before and more than 26 feet farther than her best discus mark as a junior, when she was ninth in the discus and eighth in the shot put at the CIF State Championships.

As it turned out, Anumba proved that it was hard work and dedication that boosted her performances, culminating in a state title in the discus and earning her All-Inland Valley Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year.

Anumba had several other outstanding marks throughout the season, proving the 170-10 wasn’t a fluke. She lost only one discus competition all year, when she took second at the Mt. SAC Relays. But it wasn’t until she threw 170-8 at the state prelims that she had another 170-foot throw.

But at the state finals is where she really shone. Before fouling on her last throw, her first five throws were all at least 164-7. Her winning mark of 177-8 on her fifth throw was a personal best and set a San Bernardino County record in the process. She needed every bit of that throw. Runner-up Pamela Amaechi of San Francisco Lincoln had a 177-0 throw on her second attempt. Los Osos throws coach Don Merkley points out that her winning throw would’ve been good enough to qualify for the NCAA Finals.

Anumba also qualified for state finals in the shot put, which took place after discus. Although she didn’t earn a medal in the shot, she is also the proud county record holder in that event with a mark of 46-5 3/4, achieved at the CIF-Southern Section Finals.

Yet it’s the discus that has always been her better event and the state championship proves it.

“I was proud I was able to win state,” she said. “But the fact that I was able to work hard and actually PR not once, but three times, that’s what I was most proud of.”

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Merkley has seen a big change in Anumba.

“She’s made a big improvement in her mental approach,” he said.

Although Anumba doesn’t remember, Merkley said she used to feel sorry for beating opponents. She’d also feel bad if someone else had a bad throw, and it could affect her. She does admit that Anumba would often doubt herself before a meet, as she is much smaller than other top competitors.

“They’d outweigh me by 50 pounds,” she said. “And they’d be 5-10, 6 foot.”

She’s realized since then that she didn’t have to be big to dominate.

“She’s very whippy,” Merkley said. “She’s got a very fast twitch.”

She hopes that will translate into more results next weekend at the Junior Outdoor Championships in Sacramento. Although she’ll also be competing against college freshmen, a top-two finish in the discus would send her to the Pan American Junior Championships in Peru in July.

Now she goes on to the University of Pennsylvania, where she wants to major in political science, but is also interested in environmental studies and public health.

As for the track team, she’ll likely focus on the discus and also the hammer, and Merkley is confident she can make another big jump.

“Coach says this is tangible, for me to go 200 (feet) freshman year,” she said.

That’s for the future. She’s already made a great mark at Los Osos.

“I want people to see me as a person who didn’t know much about the sport, but with hard work and dedication, I was successful,” she said. “I also want people to know me as a person who was supportive.”

Supportive, yes. Feeling sorry for opponents? Not any more.

First Team

EMERALD BOWENS

Junior, Redlands East Valley, 100

TAYLOR CROCKEM

Senior, Chino, Shot Put

JALYN HARRIS

Senior, Rancho Cucamonga, 200, 400, 4x100 relay

JADA HICKS

Junior, Upland, 100, 100 hurdles, 4x100 relay

JACQUELYN HILL

Senior, Etiwanda, 800

Second Team

Natalie Koppel, Sr., Granite Hills

Zani Meaders, Jr., Chino Hills

Flora Oliveira, Sr., Alta Loma

Amya Small, So., Upland

Ana Tovi, Jr., San Gorgonio

Honorable Mention

Ezinne Abba, Jr., Etiwanda

Mya Greene, Jr., Carter

Claire Graves, Sr., Citrus Valley

Calyx Hampton, Sr., Western Christian

Kyrha Johnson, Jr., Citrus Valley

Mikaela Ramirez, So, Ayala

Anyssa Romo, So., Ayala

Azariyah Scott, Jr., Redlands East Valley

Abby Venglass, Fr., Rancho Cucamonga

San Bernardino County Top Marks 2017

w-wind aided, nwi-no wind indicated

100 meters: Emerald Bowens (Redlands East Valley) 11.85; Bowens (REV) 11.75 w.

200: Jalyn Harris (Rancho Cucamonga) 23.47.

400: Harris (RC) 54.79.

800: Jacquelyn Hill (Etiwanda) 2:08.29.

1600: Mikaela Ramirez (Ayala) 4:57.69.

3200: Claire Graves (Citrus Valley) 10:36.82.

100 hurdles: Jada Hicks (Upland) 13.89; Hicks (U) 13.40 w.

300 hurdles: Flora Oliveira (Alta Loma) 42.80.

4x100 relay: Upland 46.60.

4x400 relay: Rancho Cucamonga 3:52.94.

High jump: Jartierra Grissom (Silverado) 5-6.

Long jump: Maraian Raymundo-Link (Chino Hills) 17-10; Natalie Koppel (Granite Hills) 18-10 nwi.

Triple jump: Cameryn Caffey (Colony) 36-2 1/4; Madison Moneymaker (Ayala) 37-2 nwi.

Pole vault: Darla Gonzalez (Apple Valley) and Sissy Anderson (CH) 12-3.

Shot put: Ashley Anumba (Los Osos) 46-5 3/4.

Discus: Anumba (LO) 177-8.

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