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Four Hancock College athletes are heading to the Southern California Regional Finals Track & Field Finals Saturday at Cerritos College. From left, Rachel Naugle, Steven Youngblood, Brent Dionisio and Taylor Nevitt have their sights set on advancing to the State Championships next week.

Four Hancock College track and field athletes are set to compete at the Southern California Regional Finals Saturday at Cerritos College.

On top of trying to win regional titles, Brent Dionisio, Rachel Naugle, Taylor Nevitt and Steven Youngblood will try to qualify for the upcoming CCCAA State Track and Field Championships. Only the athletes with the region’s top-six times or marks in each event qualify for the state meet.

“I really want to take first at the SoCal Regional and make state,” said Dionisio, who advanced to the men’s high jump final. “I have never competed in a state meet, including high school. I want to do this for myself and for all the hard work I’ve put in the last year to put myself in this position.”

Dionisio set a personal record of 6 feet, 10.25 inches on his way to a Western State Conference high jump title last month. He ranks third in the region and fourth in the state this year. Though he is already in line to qualify for state, the Pioneer Valley High School graduate is focused on setting a new PR this year.

“I will hopefully have two meets left to reach 7 feet. That is my goal,” said Dionisio. 

San Diego Mesa’s Tyler Arroyo is the only jumper in the state to clear 7 feet this season. If he can clear that benchmark, Dionisio would tie the Hancock record set by Matt Barney in 1978.

Nevitt will look to qualify for state in the women’s discus throw and shot put for the second straight year.

Nevitt finished fourth in the shot put and 10th in the discus last week at the SoCal Trials to advance to this weekend’s finals.

Last year at the state meet, the Nipomo High School graduate finished eighth in the shot put and 10th in the discus throw.

“I feel some pressure to qualify for state in both events since I did last year,” admitted Nevitt. “But it is 100 percent doable. I just have to bring my ‘A‘ game, which I plan to do.”

Last week, Nevitt signed a national letter of intent to throw for Chico State, a Division II program with a winning tradition. Signing with the four-year university provides extra motivation.

“I want to prove to myself what I am capable of doing, as well as represent Hancock and Chico State,” said Nevitt.

Youngblood qualified for the men’s 3,000 meter steeplechase final.

The sophomore finished fourth in his heat and eighth overall during the trials with a time of 9:58.53. His personal-best time of 9:48.40 ranks ninth among regional runners.

Knowing this could be his final race, the Pioneer Valley graduate plans to lay it all out on the track.

“I will need to take at least 10 seconds off of my time, maybe 20,” said Youngblood. “I know I have to run as fast and as hard as I can to give my shot a chance. I plan to go for it.”

Naugle finished second in her heat and fourth overall last weekend in the 3,000 meter steeplechase with a time of 11:48.94. Her top qualifying time of the season, 11:46.06, ranks sixth in the region headed into the meet.

After just missing out on running in the 5,000-meter run at the state meet as a freshman, Naugle plans to control her own destiny this time around.

“After last year, I am more determined than ever to make it to state,” said Naugle. “I am in a better position this year. I just need to stay focused and hopefully P.R. to make sure I qualify.”

Hancock athletes will compete from 1-6 p.m. on Saturday at Cerritos College. The men’s high jump will begin at 1 p.m., the steeplechase finals start at 2 p.m., the women’s discus final begins at 3 p.m., and the shot put final gets underway at 4:30 p.m.

The 2017 Track and Field State Championships will be held May 19-20 at American River College in Sacramento.