By Patrick Dillon
exeter – With the D-II Championship seeming to be on its last leg athletes took to Exeter Union High School’s Monarch Stadium on May 10. While there were no Foothill area schools that captured a team championship, there where however, four individual athletes who took home titles. Exeter led the group with two athletes who brought home five titles. Josh Outten won three in the long jump, triple jump and high jump. Then Andrea Anez took home two in the 1600- and 3200-meter races. Lindsay’s McKaylie Caesar took home the 800-meter. Finally, Strathmore’s Madison Bower won the 300-meter hurdles.
On the night there was no more decorated individual athlete than Exeter’s senior Josh Outten. All year long, Outten’s goal was to be able to put together solid performances in the three jumping events that he entered. Lo and behold, the D-II Championships was where it was going to happen.
“Josh had a really good night,” said Exeter head coach Darin Laskey. “This was the first time all year that Josh put all three jumping events together.”
In Outten’s first event of the evening, the high jump, his confidence was high. Outten had won the event nine times out of the 11 meets that he had entered. Yet Outten could not have imagined what was going to happen.
When Outten cleared six feet and two inches he was determined to win the D-II Championship at a height where everyone else had failed. Now Outten was in a competition against history as the bar was set to six feet and five inches. On his last jump Outten emerged victorious over the 42-year-old record of six feet and four and a half-inches set by David Pots in 1975.
“Honestly, I thought I didn’t jump high enough on that one. But I guess I made it over,” said Outten.
While there were no more records that fell to Outten on this night, there were two more titles won. The long jump was the next when Outten reached a distance to 21 feet and 1.25 inches. Then finally the triple jump where Outten reached 44-09.50 inches.
Champion at last
Over the course of Exeter senior Andrea Anez’s four years competing for the Monarchs she has accomplished a lot, including signing a D-I letter of intent to attend University of California, Santa Barba. But the one thing that has eluded Anez was a D-II Championship. On this night, her final chance, Anez won not one, but two titles.
“It was like, oh my gosh I can’t believe I just did this,” said Anez. “It was something that I wanted to do and I’m glad it finally happened.”
First, Anez took to the track in the 1600-meter. The 1600 is the weaker of her two events in a competitive field of runners that included Central Valley Christians Jenna Wilson, who defeated Anez in the Central Sequoia League (CSL) championships one week earlier; and McFarland’s Devianna Salcedo, considered one of the top runners in the valley.
Anez’s start was one of the worst of her career in such a big moment. Slow off the line Anez was pushed toward the back of the pack. Remaining calm, Anez went around the group and caught back up to Salcedo, who was leading the race.
There, in Salcedo’s footsteps, Anez kept pace as it became a two-person race. Then at the start of the final lap Anez made her move passing along the outside of Salcedo. Having to push herself Anez gave it all she had down the last 100 meters to clock a personal best of 5:15.15, less than a second ahead of Salcedo’s time of 5:15.96.
“I couldn’t see [Salcedo] but I knew she was right behind me,” said Anez. “I was trying not to think of where she was. I was just looking at the line.”
While the 1600-meter turned into a solid race, Anez put on a clinic during the 3200. Clocking a winning time of 11:20.52, which put Anez’s mile splits at 5:40, she was 22 seconds faster than Kingsburg’s Kalen Abe.
Moving onto the Master Track Meet on May 20, Anez will be scratching the 1600-meter race to go for broke in the 3200-meter.
Rivals rise to the top
The last two individual D-II champions were a pair of sophomores from rival schools, McKaylie Caesar from Lindsay and Madison Bower from Strathmore.
Caesar’s win came in the 800 Meter. Competing in the second of two heats Caesar stayed toward the front for most of the race. Until the back stretch of the second lap when Caesar fell to fifth. Having to work back though the pack Caesar took the lead for good on the last turn clocking a time of 2:21.94. Less than a second over the runner up with a time of 2:22.32.
“It was really exciting,” said Caesar. “I had a lot more energy in me so I could pass people up and sprint the rest.”
Then there was Bower who took to the track in the 300-meter hurdles. Running in one of the middle lanes Bower took the lead along the 150 meter mark and finished with a time of 46.25 seconds. Almost three seconds over the second place finisher Yosemite’s Elyse Espe, who clocked a time of 49.10.
What seemed like a smooth race started off a little shaky. On one of the first hurdles Bower misstepped causing her to hesitate but ran a flawless rest of the race on her way to the win.
“It’s amazing,” said Bower. “Last year I got second but this year I put in a lot more effort.”