By Patrick Dillon @PDillon_SGN
EXETER – The Monarchs had a record setting day in several events which included two school records being smashed. During their Central Sequoia League four-team meet last Wednesday, Chad Hilvers broke two school records in the high jump at a height of 6 feet, 6 inches and in the 200-meter with a time of 22.83 seconds. He is now among a handful of Exeter athletes to have their name mentioned more than once in the record books.
“It is amazing to just have the opportunity to be able to set a goal and achieve it,” Hilvers said.
Hilvers was expected to have a strong showing in the 200-meter, the first record to fall, since he had not finished outside the top five in the event all season. However, a shaky start out of the blocks made setting a new top time a little beyond his reach.
All season Hilvers had been focusing on getting out of the blocks cleanly, and chose the perfect race to put that practice to the test. A strong, clean start had him around the turn in first, and he crossed the line six tenths faster than his previous fastest time.
Setting the record in the sprint was satisfying for Hilvers but it paled in comparison to hise desire to break the high jump record, where he had to surpass an old friend and teammate to rewrite the record books.
The summer between Hilvers’ freshman and sophomore years he transferred from Central Valley Christian to Exeter Union. The following spring, he watched as senior high jumper Josh Outten brake the 42-year-old record with a successful 6-foot, 5-inch jump.
It was Outten who pushed Hilvers to take high jumping more seriously during that season. Apprehensive at first, Hilvers decided to make it one of his top events for his junior season.
“It inspired me. He really [inspired me],” Hilvers said. “He showed me how cool it was to get up and over a bar.”
Hilvers decided to dedicate himeself to excelling in the high jump and even gave up playing basketball for his senior season to focus on his goal.
“It’s my last year, and I want to have fun,” Hilvers said. “You have to do what you have to do sometimes to be great and strive.”
There are only a few more guaranteed meets before the CSL Championships on May 1 at Immanuel, where Hilvers has his eyes set on raising the bar. His ultimate goal is to reach 6 feet, 10 inches.
Another of Exeter’s high jumpers, Sara Gentner, was a few centimeters away from breaking through the five feet mark, but on her final successful jump she reached a personal record height of four feet, 10 inches.
“I’m proud of myself,” Gentner said.
Gentner had already won the high jump competition after she cleared four feet, eight inches, and her opponent, Hanford West’s Kaytlyn Boling, failed on her third attempt. Once that happened the junior was chasing history, and one day hopes to surpass the school record of 5 feet, 3 inches.
Earlier in the season, Gentner had cleared the height which won her the competition, but had plateaued over the last month. The biggest thing which changed in this competition was her mindset.
“Instead of thinking about what I need to improve on, I would think about what I am already good at,” Gentner said.
On the track another underclassman began to set himself apart. Teneil Nichols won the 400-meter by clocking a personal best 54.08 seconds. It was close to a two second winning margin over Selma’s Chris Rosas.
“I just used my strategies well, and let everyone else tire themselves out,” Nichols said.
Nichols had a clean start out of the blocks in the middle lane. Then the sophomore, about 100 meters in, began to pace himself as he took over second along the back stretch. In the final turn however, he began to pick up speed, taking the lead, and pulled away in the last 100 meters.
This was Nichols first time competing in the event, but he is determined not to be a one hit wonder.
“You know I am a hard worker, and I’m going to keep on going,” Nichols said.
The wins by Hilvers and Nichols helped the Exeter boy’s toward victory with a team total of 212. Selma took third with 101. In third was Hanford West with 86, and Central Valley Christian rounded out the four teams with 66 points.
Exeter’s girls had a strong finish but missed out on the win by twenty points to Hanford West’s score of 160.