Locals compete against the best at the State Meet
By Patrick Dillon
clovis – The best track and field athletes from around the state converged on Buchanan High School’s Veteran’s Memorial Stadium last weekend, June 2 and 3. And with these last state champions being crowned draws to an end another regular high school athletics season.
In the field were four athletes from the local area. In the high jump Exeter’s Josh Outten was the only athlete to make the finals. Strathmore’s Madison Bower and Golden West’s Ian Kelly and Zach Glick also competed in their respective events.
In the prelims of the high jump Exeter’s Josh Outten went up against the best jumpers in the state. For the third meet in a row Outten reached his personal record of six feet, five inches. That put him in fifth place and was good enough to qualify for the finals on Saturday.
However, Outten graduated from Exeter Union High School on Friday evening and chose to attend sober grad. That decision very well may have cost him a shot at the title.
“I was really tired,” said Outten. “I went to sober grad and didn’t get in until four in the morning.”
Sleep deprived Outten was only able to reach a height of six feet, three inches during the finals. While he wasn’t able to improve on his personal record Outten had to improve by six inches in order to contend for a State Championship. Sean Lee of Trabuco Hills won the event clearing a height of six feet, 11 inches.
But still Outten plans on taking the experiences that he had at state and all season long and learning from them. Hopefully to be better prepared next season when he competes for the College of Sequoia’s state championship men’s team.
“It was fun that I got to compete against some of the top jumpers in the state,” said Outten.
The only one of the four who was making a return trip to the State Championships was Golden West’s Ian Kelly. In 2016 Kelly competed in the long jump. This year Kelly again qualified in the long jump but competed against the hurdles in the state in the 110 Meter Hurdles.
“It was a very good experience going up against the best in the state again,” said Kelly.
First up during Friday’s prelim schedule was the event that Kelly felt strongest in, the long jump. Having already reached a distance of 23 feet it looked liked Kelly stood a good chance of qualifying for the finals. Yet, Kelly was not able to settle into his form. And after his coaches tried moving him either forward or back to try to get his footing right his mind was off the jump. Kelly was only able to reach a distance of 22 feet, two and a half inches, which put him in 15th place.
“It was a good experience. I just did not come out and execute like I wanted to,” said Kelly.
After the frustration of the long jump Kelly had to go and compete in the 110 Meter Hurdles. Already at a disadvantage Kelly had to compete against the best in the State during his prelim race. And while he clocked a time of 15.19 seconds, it was only good for 23rd. The winner of his race was Upland’s Joseph Anderson, who went on to win the event clocking a time of 13.33 seconds during the finals.
“The race was fast, but I just wasn’t really as focused as I needed to be,” said Kelly.
Also, competing from Golden West was Zach Glick. While qualifying in the triple jump, this was Glick’s first time competing in the State Championship Meet. If Glick had been able to reach his personal best distance of 46 feet, nine and a half inches he would have qualified for the finals. But Glick fell short only reaching 45 feet and 10 and a half inches.
Strathmore’s Madison Bower made her first appearance in the State Championship Meet as well. Bower’s confidence was high after winning the 300 Meter Hurdles during the Masters Track and Field Championship the week before with a personal best 44.27 seconds.
What Bower wasn’t counting on was the atmosphere that the state meet provided.
“I expected it to be a lot like masters where I was running against schools that I knew,” said Bower. “But it was kind of like culture shock. I was going up against schools I didn’t even know existed.”
During the race Bower put her best effort forward and clocked a time slightly slower than her masters win at 44.71 seconds. That time was good for 12th place in the prelims. It really hit Bower that she had reached another level of competition when they exited the turn for the final 100 meters down the front stretch. Shante Robinson of Mira Costa, who won the prelims, clocked a time of 41.94 seconds.
“I began to feel a little bit discouraged seeing her so far in front of me,” said Bower.
Being able to crack the top 15 her first time at state is an accomplishment but Bower is not done there.
“I ran a good race that I’m content with, but I’m not overly excited,” said Bower.
The off-season plan is for Bower to work on her form. She wants to be able to keep her arms in closer to her body and to run over the hurdle instead of jumping over it. Improvement in those areas could drop Bower’s time by another couple seconds before reaching state next season.