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.
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.