Track & Field
Five-Time Defending CIF Champion Girls Track & Field 2015 | 2016 | 2017 | 2018 | 2019
CIF Champions Boys Track & Field 1996, Runner-Up 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2018
BOYS HISTORY | Santa Margarita High School opened in the fall of 1987, welcoming 218 freshmen to its beautiful 42-acre campus. Coach Dave Zeitler arrived in 1989 after leaving Mater Dei and had been the Head Coach up until 2012, when he passed the baton to his son, Sean Zeitler. Coach Dave Zeitler's first team in February 1990 consisted of 26 athletes, today, the Eagles boast 228 (Boys and Girls) athletes on their roster. With increased numbers came greater success. The Eagles Track & Field team has won seven league championships, one Angelus, five Serra League and one Sea View League. In 2001, the Eagles earned the prestigious Orange County Championship. The Eagles have also finished in the runner up spot at Orange County on three other occasions; 1996, 2000 & 2002. When it really counts, at C.I.F. Finals, the Eagles have one third place finish in 2000, four 2nd place finishes, 2001 - 2003 and 2018 and a C.I.F. Championship in 1996.
Individuals from the team have also excelled. The track program has produced 20 individual/Relay C.I.F. Champions: Matt Blasdel in the 300IH in 1996, Pat Luke won two Pole Vault Championships in 1999 & 2000, Sean Zeitler won his C.I.F. Championship in the 300IH in 2001 and Jeff Jacobs won a C.I.F Championship in the 400m in 2002 and repeated in 2003. Andrew Prodoehl was C.I.F Pole Vault Champion in 2005, Ryan Martin in the 800 in 2006 and 2007, Jimmy Martin garnered the 300IH championship in May of 2009. Parker Curry carried on the pole vaulting tradition as he was crowned CIF Champion in 2013. Austin Tinsley won the Division 3 CIF Championship in the 300IH in 2014 before becoming SMCHS’ first individual Masters champion when he won the 300IH in a time of 37.25. Blake Hennesay earned CIF individual titles in the 100-meter and the 300IH, with times of 10.71 and 38.20 in his junior campaign. Hennesay would go on to advance to the CIF State Championship Finals in both events, including running school record times of 10.54 and 36.95. Blake's 36.95 makes him the fifth fastest in Orange County history and the fastest junior ever in Orange County history. Hennesay would double down his senior year, defending both CIF titles in the 100m (10.57) and the 300 hurdles (37.72), guiding his team to a runner-up finish in Division 3, the best finish for the boys since 2003.
Relays have also played a major part in the success. C.I.F. Championships have been won by the 1996 4 x 100m relay team, the 1998 4 x 400m relay team, the 2000 4 x 400m relay team and the 2001 4 x 400m relay team. Numerous individuals and relay teams have qualified for the Masters Meet, the southern section's State qualifying meet. Individual athletes that have qualified for the California State Meet are: Pat Luke in the Pole Vault, Jeff Jacobs in the 400m, Brandon Clark in the 400m, Jim Lunnen in the High Jump, Matt Blasdel, Andrew Prodoehl in the Pole Vault, Ryan Martin in the 800m, Parker Curry in the Pole Vault, Austin Tinsley in the 300IH, Blake Hennesay in the 100 and 300 Intermediate Hurdles in 2017 as well as 2018, and Sean Byrne in the 1600 also in 2018. The 4 x 100m relay team of 2002 also qualified for the State Meet. The 4 x 400m relay teams qualified for the State Meet for four consecutive years, from 2000-2003. In all, the Eagle boys boast 20 Individual CIF Champions in less than 30 years of Santa Margarita school history.
GIRLS HISTORY | The girls track & field program has produced six CIF team championships, with the first coming in 1999 and the next five consecutive from 2015 to 2019. In addition to the team championships, the Lady Eagles have 31 individual/relay CIF championships as well, with a rich history in several specific events. Since 2005, the Eagles have had nine CIF pole vault champions, including a stretch of six consecutive years from 2012-2016 between just two vaulters. Kaitlyn Merritt was a four-time CIF Champion (2012-2015), followed by back to back titles from Kate Thomas (2016-2017). Merritt would go on to earn the first ever individual state championship in school history, earning the California state title in the pole vault in 2013 and 2015.
2017 was a very special year for the Eagle track and field program. Not only did the team secure their third straight CIF Championship at that time, but also set a Division 3 record for points in doing so, with 112 to outdistance themselves from a talented Calabasas team. That saw year, the girls 4x100 team of Mallory Barnes, Lauren Drysch, Nikki Merritt and Tessa Green set the Orange County record with their time of 46.28. The stretch from 2015-2019 left a dent in the All-Time Orange County record books, to the tune of 26 marks in the Top-30. Of those marks, 13 crack the top 10 All-Time.
The Eagles have produced several, multiple CIF champions in the last 30+ years, including Katie Nuanes in the 1600 (1996, 1997), Amanda Shanklin was a three time individual CIF Champion, winning the triple jump in 1998, before going on to sweep the hurdles in 1999. Hurdle standout Lauren Collins won the 100-hurdles in back to back year (2003, 2004), while Claire Hawkins was a double-CIF Champion, pioneering the rich pole vault history by earning the first two vault titles in 2005 and 2008. The Eagles earned their first ever relay CIF title in 2015 when the 4x400 team of Sheridan Scifres, Lauren Drysch, Nikki Merritt and Kaitlyn Merritt put the bookend on the team title by winning the 4x400 in a time of 3:52.15. The second relay to ever win a team title, and the first 4x100 championship came in 2018 courtesy of Mia Roth, Jessica Elizalde-Rendon, Nikki Merritt and Tessa Green. Nikki Merritt capped off her 2018 and high school campaign by helping to lead the Eagles to their fourth consecutive team title, courtesy of her four individual/relay titles that day. After helping the 4x100 team, Merritt's final CIF championship competition consisted of her also winning the 100-meter, 100-meter hurdle, and the 300-meter hurdle, giving her five individual/relay championships for her career, more than any other Eagle ever. That was until the 2019 season. After winning the 200-meter her junior year in 2018, Tessa Green picked up where Nikki Merritt left off, by leading her team to another CIF Championship (fifth straight) in 2019, before going on to win the 100-meter, defend her 200-meter title, and closing out her day by helping the 4x400 team to a CIF Championship of their own, 3:52.27. Green helped guide the 4x100 relay team to a 7th place finish at the California State Meet, before placing 6th herself in the 100-meters, in a new school record time of 11.78, the 2nd fastest in Orange County History. Also making a cameo on the podium in 2019, in her first year of track and field, was sophomore Lauren Memoly, who would place 6th in the 400-meters at the California State Meet as well and also run a school record and the #6 time in County history the week before, 54.97. Memoly won her first individual CIF title in the 400 just two weeks before with her time of 55.33.
Since 2013, the Eagles have rewritten the record books, breaking 14 of the 21 school records and have sent five athletes into the Eagle Hall of Fame since 2015.
This year, the Eagle tradition continues.
The mission of the Eagle Track & Field program is to take a group of collective individuals and teach them how to become a team. Eagle track and field athletes will all be held to the same standards and expected to up uphold the Catholic-Christian standards and values of the school and the program. Our goal as a program is to teach these young men and women the value of hard work, patience, sacrifice, and teamwork, all of which will be used well beyond high school.
CORE VALUES: Effort | Integrity | Accountability
Santa Margarita Track & Field Hall of Fame Requirements
In order for an athlete to gain entry into the Santa Margarita Track & Field Hall of Fame they must have maintained a positive academic & disciplinary record during their tenure at Santa Margarita (no periods of academic ineligibility or disciplinary probation). Additionally, once an athlete began their track & field, they must have completed their track participation with no interruptions (i.e. quitting, taking a year off, not competing in a post season meet for which he/she qualified, etc.). Admission to the Hall of Fame will only take place after the completion of the athletes’ senior year of competition & graduation.
In addition to the above-mentioned criteria, the athlete must acquire 17 points in order to be considered for entrance to the Hall of Fame. Of those 17 points, at least 8 points must be earned through individual accomplishments. The athlete must also have earned a minimum of 10 CIF points. Points towards Hall of Fame induction can be earned in the following ways:
- California State Meet Champion in an individual event: 10 points
- California State Meet champion on a relay team: 4 points
- California State Meet finalist in an individual event: 7 points
- California State Meet finalist on a relay team: 3 points
- Ranking in Top 100 nationally in an individual event: 5 points
- Ranking in Top 100 nationally on a relay team: 2 points
- Masters Meet qualifier in an individual event: 4 points
- Masters Meet qualifier on a relay team: 1 point
- CIF Champion in an individual event: 6 points
- CIF Champion on a relay team: 3 points
- Orange County Champion in an individual event: 3 points
- Orange County Champion on a relay team: 1 point
- Compiling 15 career CIF Finals points (individual & relay): 3 points
- Compiling 20 career CIF Finals points (individual & relay): 4 points
- School Record holder in an individual event: 1 point
- Santa Margarita Team Captain: .5 point
Please note: Each point total is based upon one accomplishment. For instance: winning 2 separate CIF individual Championships would accrue 12 points (6 points x 2 titles = 12 points).
Also, when calculating career CIF Finals points, relay points awarded to the team are divided by 4 in order to tally the individual’s point total. For example, if a relay team places 2nd at CIF Finals, the team earns 8 points and each member earns 2 towards their career total points ( 8 points divided 4 team members = 2 points)
- 1996 | Matt Blasdel
- 1997 | Katie Nuanes
- 1998 | Matt Brooks
- 1999 | Amanda Shanklin
- 2000 | Pat Luke
- 2001 | Sean Zeitler
- 2001 | Lori Mann
- 2003 | Brandon Clark
- 2003 | Jeff Jacobs
- 2005 | Lauren Collins
- 2006 | Julian de Rubira
- 2006 | Jessie Lucier
- 2007 | Ryan Martin
- 2009 | Jimmy Martin
- 2014 | Parker Curry
- 2015 | Kaitlyn Merritt
- 2017 | Kate Thomas
- 2017 | Erin Gerardo
- 2017 | Lauren Drysch
- 2018 | Nikki Merritt
- 2018 | Blake Hennesay
- 2018 | Sean Byrne
- 2019 | Tessa Green
Because we are limited in the amount of entries we are allowed, the Eagle Track & Field Program utilizes a set of standards for consideration to participate in invitationals, away dual meets, and League Prelims. For our home dual meets, all athletes will participate in the events they sign up for, or are assigned to. See below for the standards as well as our team contract.
- Standards: Click Here for the Invitational, Away Dual Meet and League Prelim Standards
- Team Contract: Click Here for the Track & Field Team Contract
The 25th Annual Eagle Invitational | Saturday MARCH 20, 2021 | 3:00pm
Edison | Esperanza | Huntington Beach | Newport Harbor | JSerra | Mater Dei | Notre Dame | Santa Margarita | St. John Bosco | St. Joseph's
3/16" Pyramid Spikes Only. No athlete will be permitted to participate in their event until their spikes have been checked first. Failure to comply will result in disqualification. Spikes will be for sale at the Clerk of the Course for $1 per shoe.
All throwing implements will be weighed prior to competition.
Surface: Installed in 2014 - Brand new BEYNON Synthetic BSS 1000 ML Full-Pour Blue Track Surface.
- 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 100/110H & 300H: 3 entries per team per level for each of these events *note: Boys Frosh/Soph 110 hurdles will 36" (intermediate height)*
- 1600m: 5 entries per team per level.
- No 3200m - the 4x800 will be run instead.
- 4 x 100m Relay 1 entry per team per level.
- 4 x 400m Relay 1 entry per team per level
- A 1 minute time limit will be in effect for all field events.
- Long Jump, Triple Jump, High Jump, Shot Put & Discus: 5 entries per level. 3 Attempts for lower levels, 4 for varsity
- LJ & TJ: Boys in the east pit, girls in the west pit. We will use an open pit but Varsity has priority on the runway.
- Pole Vault: 3 entries per team, per gender, per level
- High Jump Opening heights or a higher agreed upon height: G Var 4'06" | B Var 5'06" | G JV 4'02" | B JV & F/S 5'02"
- Pole Vault 3 entries per level; Opening heights or a higher agreed upon height: G Var 7'00" | B Var 10'00" | G JV 6'06" | B JV 9'00" | B F/S 8'00"
Director of Track and Field | Sprints & Relays | Sean Zeitler '01
Coach Sean Zeitler has been with team in various capacities for the past 19 years and in 2020, will be entering his 9th year as Head Boys Coach, sixth year as the girls’ sprint coach, his first as Director of Track & Field and second as Head Boys and Girls track and field coach. This past season, he helped guide the girls track and field team to their fifth consecutive CIF Championship. He competed on the SMCHS track and field team from 1998 - 2001, where he was a team captain in 2000 and 2001, helping to lead the Eagles to their only Orange County Championship in '01. Coach earned a CIF Championship in the 300IH in 2001, was part of 2 CIF Championship 4 x 400m relay teams, and competed at the California State Meet on 2 occasions, finishing 7th in 2000 and 5th in 2001. Coach had personal bests of 14.92 in the 110HH, 38.30 in the 300IH, and 48.3 relay split on a 3:15.70 CIF Championship 4x400m relay team. Collegiality, Coach competed for three years at Cal Poly Pomona University where he was a named a team captain. In college, he ran 53.71 in the 400IH at CCAA Conference Finals and was a part of a 3:14.70 4x400m relay team. Coach currently working in the Athletic Department as the Sports Information Director and Assistant Athletic Director. In the Fall, he is on the freshman football coaching staff where he coaches wide receivers and defensive backs. He earned has his B.A. Degree in Communications, his Masters Degree in Coaching and Athletic Administration, and was named the OCVarsity Boys Track and Field Coach of the Year in 2018. Coach resides in Lake Forest with his wife Meghan and their two daughters, Morgan (7) and Emma (5). Coach can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hurdles & mid-distance Coach | Dave Zeitler
Coach Zeitler is in his 36th year coaching Track & Field. His first 6 years were spent at Mater Dei High School and the past 28 years here at Santa Margarita. Coach Zeitler comes from a family of track coaches as his dad coached XC and T & F for 34 years and his brother, who is still coaching, is in his 50th year. Coach Zeitler graduated from Holy Family DHS in New York, SUNY Cortland and earned his Masters’ degree from Azusa Pacific University. Coach Zeitler is a contract substitute teacher at SM after having taught in the science department for 26 years at SM. Coach Zeitler is married to Colleen (37 years) and has 3 adult children and 6 grand-daughters. The 4 older grand girls are Erin’s daughters (and Broc) and are 12 year old Michaela Margaret, 10 year old Hannah Christine, 8 year old McKenzie Grace, and soon to be 7 year old Hope Elizabeth. Coach (Sean) Zeitler has two daughters of his own (with Meghan) and they are Morgan McCrea (5) and Emma Shea (3).Erin Zeitler Meserve, competed on the track team for all 4 of her high school years, graduated from SMCHS in '99 & Cal State Fullerton in '04. She and her husband own and operate The Bagel Shack in San Clemente. Coach's son Sean also competed four years on the SMCHS track team earning a CIF Championship in the 300IH in 2001 and was part of 2 CIF Championship 4 x 400m relays. Sean is currently our Head Coach and the Sports Information Director for Santa Margarita. Peter David, P.D., is medically retired from the U.S. Marine Corps and is currently enrolled at U.C.S.D. Peter served 2 tours of duty in Iraq, then served his country in the Pentagon as the P.S.D. (Private Security Detail) for the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps., the highest enlisted Marine in the Marine Corps. Pete ran for 3 years at SM before transferring to Trabuco Hills HS for his senior year. His specialty was the 300IH. The family moved to R.S.M in 1987 and currently live in RSM.
Long and Triple Jump Coach | Kristyne Mitchell
Coach Kristyne (Hanberg) Mitchell graduated from Mission Viejo High School in 2005 where she was a four year varsity letter in Track and Field and a three year letter in soccer. Kristyne was a CIF finalist all four years in the 100m and 200m. Kristyne attended Cal State Fullerton, on a four year Track and Field scholarship, where she graduated with a degree in Kinesiology in 2010. Kristyne was Big West all conference in 100 meters in 2006,2007, and 2009 as well as Big West all conference in the 200 meters in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009. She was also a NCAA regional qualifier in the 4x400 meters in 2007. Kristyne was the Boy's and Girl's Head Sprint/Relay Coach at Irvine High School from 2011-2014. She has also been the Girls' Junior Varsity Head Soccer Coach from 2011-2013 and is now the Girls' Varsity Assistant Coach 201-present. Kristyne currently teaches at SMHS in the ASP department.
Assistant Distance Coach | Martin Dugard
Martin Dugard is among the most successful distance running coaches in Southern California. During his fifteen year career he has produced seven State titles, 8 CIF champions, and more than 30 Trinity League team and individual champions in cross country and track & field. In addition to the many championship performances, Coach Dugard has seen several runners break 4:11 (1600m) and 9:00 (3200m), sending runners to top NCAA schools such as Navy, UCLA, Cal, and USC.Coach Dugard is a member of the CIF Advisory Board for cross country, as well as serving on the Board of Directors for the USA Track & Field Foundation, where he chairs the Olympic Developmental Program. Coach is also an eight-time New York Times #1 bestselling author. Coach Dugard and his wife, Callie, are long time residents of Rancho Santa Margarita.
Assistant Distance Coach | Mike Powers '03
An Alumni of SMCHS, class of '03, Coach Powers was CIF SS champion in cross country and went on to run at UCSB where he finished as a All-American Steeplechaser. He hopes, through athletics, to instill the virtues of disciple, hard work, and sportsmanship, so that they can then apply these principles to their lives outside of sport. Coach Powers' philosophy approaches each athlete as an individual, hoping to help his students set and reach their athletic goals, resulting in a life long love of running and fitness.
Pole Vault Coach | Luke Newman
Prior to Santa Margarita, Newman was the pole vault coach at Trabuco Hills from 2017-2019 and also coaches with well-renowned pole vault coach, Kevin Magula, at his club “Higher Flyers.” Coach Newman attended Trabuco Hills where he was a team captain his junior and senior year. While at Trabuco, he was South Coast League Champion in 2013, 2014 and 2015 and was ranked #1 in California his senior year. He was a 2014 California CIF State Finalist in the pole vault, placed 2nd in the 2015 California Indoor State Championship, and was the Orange County Champion in 2015. He was on the All-County team in 2015 and is the current school record holder at Trabuco Hills (15’9”), where he was recently inducted into the Hall of Fame. In addition to the pole vault, Coach Newman also competed in both hurdles, the 4x400, and long jump. After high school, he went on to compete at Concordia University of Irvine. Away from the track, Coach Newman owns his own Epoxy Flooring Company (Alpha Epoxy Coatings). He resides in San Clemente, is an avid surfer, and volunteers at his local church as a leader in their youth ministries.
Throws Coach | Preston Walrath
Preston Walrath's father also named Preston Walrath attended University of Oregon as a throws athlete after graduating high school but entered into the armed forces as the Vietnam Conflict was ongoing and felt it was his duty to do all he could do for his country. Coach Walrath's father threw for the United States Air Force in Europe. In 1969, Coach Walrath was born, and shortly thereafter began training in Shot and Discus. In 1984 For Wilson High School in Portland, Oregon, coach Walrath opened his freshman season by beating all discus throwers, including all varsity opponents at their invitational, with a throw of 110' (approximately). Coach Walrath went on to place in the City League Championships and move on to the state meet discus. After earning a varsity letter in three sports a, football, wrestling, and track, Coach Walrath moved on to another successful year as a sophomore, winning the city and placing in the state meet. Coach Walrath's family moved to southern California where he attended Capistrano Valley High School, hoping to build on the success of a super sophomore 1985 during his junior year football campaign, both of his shoulders suffered multiple dislocations and separations that required surgery on both. Undaunted Coach Walrath rehabbed and competed his junior and senior years, throwing well at times and competing at the highest local levels. Coach Walrath earned a division one scholarship and started for the UNLV Running Rebels in football as a center and played in Europe and Arena Football. At the conclusion of his football career, he began coaching at Saddleback College both football (Offensive and Defensive Line, Strength and Conditioning, Shot Put, Discus, Javelin, and Hammer), 2000-2007. Currently coach for the Santa Margarita Eagles, and teach for Orange County Department of Education, in San Juan Capistrano. Coach Walrath is married, to Marie and has a four year old daughter Siena and reside in Rancho Santa Margarita. Coach also has two nieces who graduated from Santa Margarita Catholic High School.
Throws Coach | Hollie Schillig
Coach Schillig competed for El Toro High School from 1985-1989 in both the shot put and discus. Hollie was a league champion and CIF qualifier both junior and senior year and was chosen as the Varsity Team Most Valuable Player. After high school, she competed at Saddleback Junior College from 1989-1990 and was actively recruited, receiving scholarship offers. She was unable to pursue her throwing career at the next level due to a family illness, but never lost her love of the sport. Coach Schillig has worked in the fitness industry for the last fourteen years as both a trainer and group fitness leader. She has held certifications in a variety of exercise and fitness formats such as cardio kickboxing, body combat, weightlifting, interval training, dance, indoor rowing, and cycle/spin formats. She is still currently teaching strength training and cycle classes at 24 Hour Fitness. Coach Schillig graduated from CSULB with a B.A. in Liberal Studies and a Master’s Degree in World and U.S. History. She has been a teacher at CSU Long Beach for the last thirteen years in the Departments of History, Geography and Liberal Studies. She currently teaches critical thinking, World, U.S. and California History, and works in the College of Education in teacher training with the Liberal Studies Department. Hollie resides in Lake Forest with her husband and three children, all students at SMCHS, Brandon, Jason and Jacqueline.
High Jump | Albert Miranda
Coach Miranda has a long career in the sport of track and field, he is also a Vietnam Veteran who served with the First Infantry Division in Vietnam. Coach Miranda started his coaching career at Canyon High School in Anaheim Hills and coached there from 1980 through 1991. During that time he was an Assistant XC and Track and Field coach and became the Girls Head Track coach in 1987. While he was at Canyon the Comanches won 5 Century League Champions and sent several athletes on to compete at the college level. Most recently, Coach Miranda was the Boys Head Track Coach at Tesoro High School from 2011-2015. During that time the Boys Track team won the school’s first Sea View League Championship in 2012 and the track team was consistently competing for additional championships until his retirement in 2015. In addition several of the student athletes on the track team became Sea View and South Coast League Champions and CIF Champions and several went on to compete at the State track and field meet. Coach Miranda credits his success to his strong faith and the opportunities it has given him to give back to the community he lives in by coaching the sport that he loves.
Assistant Sprint Coach | James Martin '09
Class of ‘09, Coach Martin competed at SMCHS in the 300IH and 110HH and was a CIF champion in the 300HH. He went on and competed at UCSB running the 400IH and was on the 4x400 meter relay team where he qualified for NCAA regionals in both the 400IH and the 4x400 relay. In love for the sport and fitness, Coach Martin is studying to become a personal trainer as well a strength and conditioning coach. Coach Martin brings what learned from his running career and looks to pass it on to his athletes to achieve their goals on and off the track.
Click Here for the 2020 Season calendar. This also includes important MUN, Sports Mass and Performing Art dates. Please note, if you are in MUN, students in MUN that have a Spring sport are encouraged to do “extra” conferences in the first semester to minimize potential conflicts later in the year
Girls Sprint Tryouts | January 7, 8, 14 & 15: 15 minutes after the final bell and will take about 45 minutes. Although we are a NO-CUT sport, in order to be a sprinter (100m-400m + Hurdles), you will need to tryout. Non-sprinters can compete in the 800m-3200m and any field event of their choice. You must have physical on file and be cleared with the trainers before participating.