Track: Pons, Budincich Take Second in State

South Pasadena's Sam Pons runs a season-best 8:50.57 in the boys 3,200-meter race Saturday.

A state title in track and field was something that South Pasadena’s Sam Pons already had.

What Pons didn’t have heading into Saturday night’s 3,200 meter final in the CIF State Track and Championships was a personal best time from the 2011 season.

But Pons ended his high school career by saving his best for last.

The Princeton-bound star finished second in 8 minutes, 50.57 seconds Saturday night at Buchanan High in Clovis. Elias Gedyon of Loyola High in Los Angeles won in 8:50.03.

“It was probably the best race I’ve seen him run,” South Pasadena distance running coach Pat McGrail said in a phone interview. “He did what he had to do and he ran a lifetime best.”

Pons had not gone under 9 minutes this season until Saturday. He won the state title last season in his previous personal best of 8:55.40.

“Four years ago when I realized he was a special talent I was ready to get a four-year plan for him and I didn’t want to squeeze every last drop out of him,” McGrail said. “He’s excited about college and that’s where I want him to be. I’m real happy to send him off this way.”

Arcadia’s Ammar Moussa finished seventh in the race in 8:56.97. The University of Colorado-bound star ran his personal best of 8:49.59 at the Arcadia Invitational earlier in the year. The field was so strong that 13 runners broke the 9-minute barrier.

Pons wasn’t the only local to finish as a state runner-up. Gedyon’s teammate, Loyola High junior Nick Budincich finished second it the discus. The Sierra Madre resident had a best of 178-5.

“He did a great job,” Budincich’s coach Matt Pentecost said. “He competed really well and I’m expecting big things from him next year.”

San Marino junior Omhunique Browne finished fifth in the girls’ 300-meter hurdles in 43.08 seconds. Melia Cox of Long Beach Poly won in 41.80.

Muir’s Daityvon McFadden was Browne’s equal in the boys’ 300 hurdles. The Mustang senior was fifth in 38.50. Agoura’s Jonathon Cabral dominated the field, by winning in 36.20, more than 1.5 seconds faster than his nearest competitor.

Wally Colburn June 06, 2011 at 05:26 PM
Congratulations to Sam Pons for ending his HS career with a personal best time at the state championships, I applaud his coach Pat McGrail for all of his caring, mentoring and nurturing of this young man so that he would advance all of his talents in a natural and safe way so that he will be entirely ready for his next step in life, college. I deal with a lot of runners in my practice from various SGV schools and there are a lot of coaches out there who push kids beyond their limits causing injuries and burn out before they get to the next stage. Kudos to Sam and Coach McGrail for giving us the chance to watch and observe a natural running talent mature and advance over four years.


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