Isaias Hunter didn’t set a personal record as he had hoped, but he returned home with a nice consolation prize on Saturday: a CIF State Track & Field Championships medal.
Lathrop High’s first-ever state qualifier again made history by becoming its first medalist at the meet. He placed fourth with a jump of 6 feet, 5 inches at Buchanan High’s Veterans Memorial Stadium in Clovis.
The top 12 competitors from Friday’s preliminary round advanced to the finals, and the best six in each event earn a medal.
“Knowing that I’m the very first from Lathrop High to do that, it feels pretty good,” Hunter said.
Trabuco junior Sean Lee won the event after clearing 6-11 on his first try. Sac-Joaquin Section champion Jake Grimsman of Vista del Lago failed on all three of his attempts at 6-11 and ended up second. Alemany senior Earnest Sears took third at 6-7.
Hunter seemed to be building up to a new PR. He hit 6-8 on three occasions earlier in the season and 6-7 in his runner-up finish in the SJS Masters meet.
He started off hot, needing just a single attempt to move past the 6-3 and 6-5 marks.
“I was just a little bit nervous, but after that first one all the nerves go away,” Hunter said. “From then on it was good. Usually I get into a flow after hitting two in a row and the plan was to get 6-7.”
Hunter nearly got it on his final attempt.
“I don’t know what it was,” he said. “I just didn’t seem to be getting enough ‘umph’ on my first two jumps. It felt great on my last attempt. I thought I was there but I barely clipped it with my calf.”
Fortunately for him, the majority of the competition also had its struggles. Daylon Hicks (Clayton Valley) and Jacob Veres (Clovis North) both missed once at 6-5, allowing Hunter to place fourth. Hicks and Veres wound up tied for fifth for the final two medals. One missed the opening height, and three others couldn’t advance past 6-5.
“It was a great experience to go to state twice,” Hunter said. “It felt like a dream come true standing on the podium, looking at that crowd and receiving my medal. It’s amazing to know I have the ability do do that. It was a great way to end the season.”
Hunter and Sierra High hurdler Bikram Thiara are the only two Manteca-area athletes to qualify for state the past two years. Thiara placed sixth in the 300-meter hurdles last season but missed a finals berth by one spot on Friday.
Rancho Verde claimed the boys team championship, while Long Beach Poly won its state-high 15th girls title.