The San Leandro High track and field team didn't have use of its track at the start of this season due to its refurbishing, so team members had to practice at Bancroft Middle School, which is approximately a half-mile away.

"It made it very difficult," San Leandro coach Rich Ellison said. "We didn't have time to get to the weight room for strength training, and running at Bancroft, it wasn't a true 400-meter track. It was maybe about 300."

But that inconvenience didn't stop the San Leandro girls squad from having an outstanding season. It was dominant at the North Coast Section Meet of Champions, winning four track events and the team title by 16 points. Then at the California Interscholastic Federation state championships, the Pirates placed second with a score of 31 points, the highest finish by an East Bay girls team in that meet since 2007.

For his team's achievements this season, Ellison has been named the Bay Area News Group East Bay Girls Track and Field Coach of the Year.

Ellison said that the key to his team's success this season was his six assistant coaches, including Anthony Trammell, Karl Pierce, Eugene Anderson and Brad Bowers.