Journey to finals a trip of a lifetime by By Phillip Brents

Track & Field Coleman.jpeg

The California high school state track and field champion­ship meet is annually regarded as the top high school track and field meet in the United States.

Many consider it an honor simply to be included in the top-flight field.

Three Granite Hills High School athletes got the chance to experience the high energy rush of elite competition at the 100th running of the state track finals recently at Buchanan High School in Clovis.

Though none advanced be­yond the first day of competition in the prestigious two-day meet, all three first-time state qualifi­ers admitted they were honored to compete alongside the state’s best high school track and field athletes.

“It’s like a dream come true,” said senior David Leber, who qualified to compete in the boys discus throw. “I had been want­ing to do this for so long. I’ve al­ways wanted to do this against the best.”

“It’s something not everyone gets to experience,” added se­nior David Gonzalez, who com­peted in the boys shot put. “It’s a huge accomplishment.”

For senior hurdler Dylan Coleman, it proved to be an adventure of a lifetime — and not just competing amid tem­peratures that hovered near the 100-degree mark at the subur­ban Fresno venue.

The trip to Clovis was the farthest he had ever been away from home.

“The drive was one of the lon­gest I’ve ever been on,” he said. “I had never been farther from Los Angeles before. It’s one of my biggest achievements and I was glad to have the opportu­nity to be here.”

The top three place-finishers in each event at the San Diego Section championship met May 26 at Mt. Carmel High School, plus those athletes who met a predetermined standard, earned the right to advance to the state meet.

The two-day state meet fea­tures preliminary qualifying, followed by championship finals the following day.

Coleman clocked a personal record 14.63 seconds to place third at the section finals in the 110-meter high hurdles and timed 39.02 to also place third in the 300-meter intermediate hurdles. He had set a personal record of 38.88 in the intermedi­ate hurdles in the section pre­lims on May 19.

Coleman could not duplicate those marks at last Friday’s state prelims, timing 14.83 in the high hurdles and 40.49 in the in­termediate hurdles.

He finished 18th out of 25 hurdles and 22nd in the field 25 entrants in the high hurdles, missing the cut for the state fi­nals in both events.

Still, the experience of com­peting at the state meet had its rewards. TColeman earned med­als in all three events in which he competed at the section fi­nals. He placed second among Division I athletes in the 110 high hurdles, third in the 300 intermediate hurdles and third in the high jump after clearing 6-2.

“I didn’t back down to get here, just as the other competi­tors didn’t back down who made it here on their own,” he said with an air of pride.

The top 12 prelim finishers advanced to the state finals in the both the shot put and dis­cus throw. Leber recorded the 17th best mark in the field of 28 qualifiers in the discus throw at 157-3 while Gonzalez finished 24th among 30 qualifiers in the shot out at the state prelims with a mark of 49-8.25.

Leber, the reigning Gross­mont Hills League champion in the discus throw, had record­ed the top mark at the section finals the preceding week at 165-0. His best on the season remains the 171-2.5 he set in a dual meet at West Hills on April 25.

Gonzalez, the Grossmont Hills League champion in the shot put, had placed second at the section finals with a person­al record mark of 54-2.

Both Leber and Gonzalez earned honors as San Diego Sec­tion Division I gold medalists in their respective events for the 2018 season.

As a matter of reference, Mis­sion Viejo Christian LaValle won this year’s state title in the boys discus throw at 182-7 while Bakersfield Liberty junior Dan­iel Viveros won this year’s state title in the shot put at 62-5.5

Gonzalez’s athletic career appears to just be taking off. A fullback, running back and tight end on the Eagles football team that advanced as far as the section’s Division II semifinals, Gonzalez will be playing college football this fall at the Univer­sity of Utah.

During his senior season at Granite Hills, the 6-foot-3, 232-pound Gonzalez accumulat­ed 1,020 yards in all-purpose of­fense and scored 11 touchdowns; he also recorded 94 tackles, 6.5 sacks and one fumble recovery on defense.

“It’s something I’m really looking forward to,” he said.

Eastern exposure

The three Granite Hills state qualifiers were among eight in­dividuals and two relay teams from the Grossmont Conference who participated at this year’s state meet.

West Hills freshman Brandy Atuatasi qualified to compete in the girls shot put and discus throw, while Valhalla senior Al­ex Lieu (boys 300-meter inter­mediate hurdles), Helix sopho­more Eric Parker (boys 400-me­ter dash), Mount Miguel senior Kiara Harrison (girls long jump) and Steele Canyon senior Mya Cross (girls long jump) were oth­er East County individual state qualifiers.

Steele Canyon qualified in the boys 4×100-meter relay while Helix qualified in the boys 4×400-meter relay.

Lieu was the only East Coun­ty athlete to advance to the sec­ond day of competition, placing ninth in a time of 38.96. He had set a school record in the event the previous day in the state pre­lims with a time of 38.85.

For complete results of this year’s state track and field meet, visit the website at www.cif­state.org.

Journey to finals a trip of a lifetime by By Phillip Brents

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