History of boys Redwood Empire 1600 Relay

Records are meant to be broken right?
Apparently not this one.
The Redwood Empire Mile Relay record has turned 50 years old.
Not sure why no one has gone faster but maybe it’s because that was the year The Beatles broke up.
It wasn’t even a very old record.

From 1915-1967 the state meet and other major meets had the 880 yard relay (4X220) as the only relay event.
In 1968 California switched to the Mile Relay (4X440) and the 440 yard Relay (4X110).

For the Redwood Empire that 880 yard relay record was set and stands today at 1:27.7 by Montgomery from 1967.(Gary Silveira, Wes Dickison, Joe Stender, Mel Gray, avg 21.9)
The Empire’s six fastest 880 relays were all before 1968 with no local schools cracking into those ranks since.

Vallejo High was the North Bay League Pennant winners in both 1968 and 1969.
They also had the best Mile relay teams for the area in those years.
In 1968 at the North Coast Section Meet of Champions they set our first Empire record at 3:19.9. A mark that still makes the All-Time top 10 performances, equal to a 1600 meter time of 3:18.89. California switched from yard races to metrics in 1981. Vallejo won the 1968 NBL title at 3:24.8 for that leagues first meet record.
In 1968 Healdsburg would win the NBL II league finals in 3:41.9, This was a meet record for the league that would later be called the Sonoma County League. Piner would lower that meet record the next year in 1969 with a 3:33.5.

Joe DeDora ran for Montgomery in 1969 and made it to the state meet as a sophomore in the 220 with a season best of 22.0.
At the NCS 3A meet the mile relay team times that year were Vallejo 3:22.2, Napa 3:23.5 and Montgomery 3:24.3. Vallejo would run a fast 3:21.8 at MOC.
Santa Rosa High School junior Carl Sagon was the NBL 440 champion in 50.5 that year.
DeDora 1969 state story

DeDora transfered to Santa Rosa High in 1970, thus creating the dream team.
The Santa Rosa squad would break the NBL record with a 3:23.0 time
At the NCS 3A meet the team of Carl Sagon, Ken Borbe, Wayne Praeder and Joe DeDora would break the Empire record for the first time with a 3:19.1 clocking.
That still stands as the NCS Redwood Empire Regional Meet record at a converted 3:18.19 for 1600 meters. And is currently our #6 performance ever.
See story here

Next came the NCS MOC meet and a controversial finish.
Today’s Fully Automatic Timing systems with their cameras are usually very accurate and easy to decide the close races but what they had in 1970 was a far cry from that. You can see that next but basically the end result was Berkeley 1st in 3:20.9 and Santa Rosa 2nd in the same time.

Next came a special match race.

Finally the record race that still stands today.
It was at the 1970 State meet trials.
DeDora had already qualified for the finals in the open 440.
In the mile relay trials the Santa Rosa runners would average under 49.18 for 400 meters.
Their time of 3:17.6 for the mile is equal to a 1600 in 3:16.70.
Here are their splits for 440 yards. (Carl Sagon 49.6y, Wayne Praeder 50.5y, Ken Borbe 49.7y, Joe DeDora 47.8y)

The bad news was that advancement to the finals was top three from each heat and they ended up in the fastest heat getting fourth. Their trials time would have been 5th in the finals.

1970 State meet Mile Relay Trials & Finals
Heat 1 
3:16.1 Los Altos         CC    
3:16.8 Technical         Oak     
3:17.4 Los Angeles       LA  
3:17.6 Santa Rosa        NCS
3:20.7 Kennedy, Richmond NCS

Heat 2
3:18.7 LB Poly           S     
3:18.7 Morningside       S     
3:20.9 Gunn              CC
3:20.9 El Cerrito        NCS

Heat 3
3:19.5 Blair, Pasadena   S
3:20.3 Dominguez         S     
3:20.4 Mt. Whitney, Visalia CC

1 3:15.6 Los Altos   CC    
2 3:16.6 LB Poly     S     
3 3:16.9 Morningside S     
4 3:17.5 Dominguez   S     
5 3:17.9 Technical   Oak    
6 3:18.7 Los Angeles LA  
? Gunn, Blair, Mt. Whitney ?

DeDora placed 5th in the open 440 finals and you can watch that here. Movie of 1970 State Meet; DeDora at 14:30 spot Very slow loading
Since then teams have tried to do what the 1970 Santa Rosa team did but all have come up short.

Sonoma Valley continued to lower the NBL II meet record down to 3:32.1 in 1970 and then 3:30.6 in 1971. In 1972 the league changed names to the Sonoma County League.

1971 would be similar to 1970 with DeDora running 48.1 at the NBL I meet for the still-standing NBL Meet record, = 48.16 400.
At MOC Santa Rosa would run a fast 3:23.0 with DeDora running a 47.0 split.
Again the relay team of Manual Mendoza, Mike FitzGerald, Russ Moore and Joe DeDora would have their best time at the state trials (3:21.7) but not move on. DeDora would run his fastest open 440 at 47.3 but that only earn him 7th in this field. State story
Also in 1971 the Sonoma Valley team of Butch Alexander, S. Klaus, C. Stalley and Sean Martin would run the still standing school record of 3:24.2. That time has only been bettered to this day by seven other Empire schools.

1972 produced four teams that could run at 3:26.34 or faster which has only been bettered once in Empire history.
Cardinal Newman (SCL Champion 3:25.5 MR) 2nd at MOC (3:21.9) and Vallejo (NBL Champion) 3rd at MOC (3:22.2) both made it to state.
Curtis Byrd would anchor the Newman MOC team with a 48.8 split.
Newman had a plan for state meet race (Read here) but it was Vallejo that ran the fastest time at 3:18.8 at the State trials.
That time is still the #5 performance ever.

1972 second best depth year ever with four at 3:26.34 or faster
3:17.89* Vallejo 3:18.8y, NBL Champion, 2nd NCS 3A, 3rd MOC
3:20.97* Cardinal Newman 3:21.8y, SCL Champions, NCS 3A Champions, 2nd MOC
3:25.74* Napa 3:26.7y ?3:24.5
3:26.34* Montgomery 3:27.3y
3:27.63* Santa Rosa 3:28.6y
3:28.73* Sonoma Valley 3:29.7y

1973 produced a trio of great mile relay teams.
Vallejo (3:21.8) and Montgomery (3:23.0) would turn in fast times early on.
At the SCL finals Cardinal Newman set the still standing meet record at 3:25.3 = 3:24.35 for 1600 meters by Dan Randolph, Kevin Konicek, Gill Proctor and Curtis Byrd. In all this time only two teams have challenged that record when the 2005 (3:25.6) and 2010 (3:25.88) Healdsburg teams came close.
At the NCS 3A finals Montgomery and Vallejo would go one-two and then at MOC both Cardinal Newman (2nd 3:21.6) and Montgomery (3rd 3:22.6) would move on to state. At the state trials Montgomery would clock 3:21.6 but fall short of making finals. To this day Montgomery and Newman stand as the fourth fastest Empire schools ever off those times.
Montgomery that year also ran, what is still the Empire record, in the 1600m Sprint Medley (400,200,200,800) at 3:31.5y = 3:30.52 metric.

1973 Montgomery, Cardinal Newman
L-R: Mark Thomas, Gary Gomes, Mark Howlett, Geoff Ramsey/Kevin Konicek, Dan Randolph, Gill Proctor, Curtis Byrd: clostest is Joel Faller

Geoff Ramsey
Curtis Byrd

1973 third best depth year ever with three at 3:21.97 or faster
3:20.67* Montgomery 3:21.6y, NBL Champions, NCS 3A Champs, 3rd MOC
3:20.67* Cardinal Newman 3:21.6y, SCL Champions, 2nd MOC
3:21.97* Vallejo 3:21.8y, 2nd NCS 3A
3:27.04* Petaluma 3:28.0y

Now when your talking about competition no year beats 1974.
Cardinal Newman turned in an early season 3:22.1. Santa Rosa would win the NBL title at 3:24.5. Petaluma would set their still standing school record at 3:25.1. Vintage would run 3:26.6 that year. And best of all Vallejo would make it to state off of a 3rd at MOC in 3:21.7.

1974 best depth year ever with five at 3:25.64 or faster
3:20.77* Vallejo 3:21.7y, 2nd NCS 3A, 3rd MOC
3:21.17* Cardinal Newman 3:22.1y
3:23.56* Santa Rosa 3:24.5y, NBL Champions
3:24.15* Petaluma 3:25.1y 11th best school record
3:25.64* Vintage 3:26.6y

Vallejo would run a trio of fast times in 1975 with a Mile relay meet record at NBL finals in 3:22.9, a 3:22.1 at NCS III and a 3:22.5 at MOC.

1976 would be Vallejo’s last year in the NBL and the NCS as they moved into the Sac-Joaquin Section in 1977.

In the first eight years of NBL finals after changing to the mile relay, six of the winning times were equal to or better than a 1600 relay in 3:23.85. The following 45 years had only four winners with times that fast and only the Santa Rosa 1987 time of 3:21.5 would beat the meet record by by Vallejo from 1975 in 3:22.9y, = 1600R in 3:21.97, and that by only about 0.2 seconds.

The 1979 Montgomery squad, was one of those, taking the NBL Mile relay finals in 3:23.0. Missing the meet record, at the time, by 0.1 seconds.
At MOC they would tie the 1973 Montgomery school record at 3:21.6, equal to 1600 at 3:20.67.
That team was composed of Mike Rose, Steve Gullikson, John Rhodes and Dave Rodriquez.
It would be another 8 years before another team would run under 3:23.44.

In 1981 California switched to metrics, making the four lapper 1600 meters rather than the mile.
Piner’s 3:23.94+ season best in 1981 gives them the 10th best school record. + – hand time plus 0.24 seconds.

Santa Rosa would own the NBL Finals Mile Relay races from 1981 through 1991, taking all eleven.

In 1986 Santa Rosa ran 3:23.5 to win both the NBL finals and the NCS 2A meet.
The Rancho Cotate team of Doug Dodds, Carlos Soto, D. Humphrey and Brian Arnold would take 3rd at the 2A meet with a 3:24.7 time.
To this day it is the Ranch’s school record and 12th best school record for the Empire.
Santa Rosa would advance to state from MOC after trials in 3:21.82 and finals in 3:21.69 for fourth, courtesy of Kent Pearson, Sean O’Leary, Pat Maines and Shawn Hanna.

The 1987 Santa Rosa team was even better.
They kicked off their first great time at the Santa Rosa Relays in 3:22.44+.
The 1975 NBL finals meet record would finally fall as Shawn Hanna, Rob Moore, Sean O’Leary and Jeff Sorkness from Santa Rosa would clock 3:21.74+.
They turned in two more quick times at the NCS 3A trials (3:22.84+) and finals (3:21.54+).
At the MOC trials the team of Jeff Sorkness 50.1, Rob Moore 50.4, Sean O’Leary 49.5 and Shawn Hanna 50.7 produced 3:20.94+.
Then at the finals they would takes third in 3:18.84+. Which today is the 6th best team and 8th best performance ever for the Redwood Empire.
O’Leary came down with the chicken pox after that and had to be sub in for the State trials team.
They still ran 3:21.44+ off of Max Stubblefield 52.0, Rob Moore 51.7, Jeff Sorkness 49.2 and Shawn Hanna 48.2.
In all they ran seven times at 3:22.84 or faster that year. No other team had run more than three until then and none have run more than five since.

The 1989 Santa Rosa team turned in a 3:22.62 MOC time.

The 1990 Santa Rosa team would also fly at MOC with trials (3:22.34+) consisting of Sean Fitzpatrick 51.7, Chris Rathbun 51.3, Dan Held 49.4 and Joe Curran 49.7 and a faster finals time of (3:22.14+).
It would be another 15 years before another Empire team would run under 3:22.97 in a season.

That long awaited team was the 2005 Healdsburg group of Ryan Costa, Tim Quiroga, Will Crockenburg and Tim Murphy.
They would set the still standing Viking Classic meet record at 3:25.35.
At the MOC trials they would run 3:22.60 to earn the 7th best school record and followed that at the finals with a 3:22.61 time.

Healdsburg MOC team by Cameron Potter

Fort Bragg would own the Coastal Mountain Conference finals in this event winning in 2006 through 2013 and setting the still standing meet record from the 2011 team of Leith Butler 52.1, Mauro Serrano 55.9, Michael Mehtlan 53.2 and Caleb Cunha 49.8 running 3:31.25.
Fort Bragg School record 3:27.6 1988 Tim Estes, Shell Saunders, Justin Pyorre and Chris Elledge.

2010 fourth best depth year ever with three at 3:26.03 or faster
3:25.58 Cardinal Newman, NBL Champions
3:25.88 Healdsburg, SCL Champions, NCS Redwood Champs
3:26.03 Rancho Cotate
3:27.60 Maria Carrillo, 2nd NCS Redwood
3:27.85 Petaluma

2010 Cardinal Newman and Healdsburg

The 2013 Maria Carrillo team came as close as anyone else to the 1970 Santa Rosa team.
Their first big race was at the Woody Wilson relays in 3:22.70.
At the MOC trials, members Herbie Polk 47.7, Dontae Garcia 50.2, Jake Viter 52.5 and Dante Hay 48.8, would run 3:19.41.
At the finals they would turn in the Redwood Empire’s second fastest ever four lapper with a 3:17.59.
Members of that team were Herbie Polk 47.9, Dontae Garcia 50.2, Alex Netherda 50.4 and Dante Hay 48.9.
At the State trials Carrillo would finish their season with the #4 performance ever at 3:17.68.

Maria Carrillo MOC finals team by Michael Lucid

The 2017 Maria Carrillo team came almost as close as the 2013 team.
They started really coming together at MOC with what is still the #10 performance ever at 3:18.94.
Splits for the 3:18.94 were Severin Ramirez 49.9, Tyler VanArden 49.7, Will McCloud 50.7, Isaiah Smith 48.4.
At State trials they cruised to a 3:19.03.
They then accomplished something that no other Redwood Empire relay team at any distance has done placing 6th in the state final.
Their 3:17.65 is the #3 performance ever. Thanks to Severin Ramirez 49.6, Tyler VanArden 49.1, Will McCloud 50.9 and Isaiah Smith 47.8.

L-R: Tyler VanArden, Will McCloud, Severin Ramirez, Isaiah Smith By Nicole Ramirez

The 2018 Maria Carrillo team ran 3:21.47 at Arcadia.
They followed that up with the #7 performance ever, 3:18.73, at the Sac MOC meet.
Splits for that were Severin Ramirez 49.5, Demetrie Coffey 50.3, Will McCloud 50.3 and Tyler VanArden 48.8.

A 3:22.92 gave them an NBL finals win.
At MOC they would run the trials in 3:22.62 and 3:19.34 in the finals.
Splits for the final were Severin Ramirez 48.9, Adesh Bassi 53.0, Demetrie Coffey 49.7 and Tyler VanArden 47.8,
At the State trials they ended a fine season with a 3:20.36 time.

Severin Ramirez and Tyler VanArden both ran in 9 meets were their teams ran under 3:23.

The Vine Valley Athletic Leauge has only had one championship, in 2019, but the Casa Grande team of Matthew Giroux, Logan Moon, Matthew Mason and Jalydon Love have established a good start to the meet record with a 3:25.46.
Casa’s 3:23.26 season best gives them the 9th best school record.

Sadly we lost the 2020 season to the COVID pandemic and will never know what great relays we might have seen.

All 23 of the sub 3:21’s have come after the league finals. 14 at NCS MOC.
Fastest known pre-league finals time is 3:21.47 2018 Maria Carrillo Arcadia.
Fastest known local pre-league finals time is 3:22.44+ 1987 Santa Rosa 4/11 SR Relays.

All-Time Top 50 Teams

Top 50 Performances

League Champions
NBL “Oak”
NBL “Redwood”/SCL