CLOVIS — Isaias Hunter wasn’t so wide-eyed on his second trip to the CIF State Track & Field Championships Friday at Buchanan High’s Veterans Memorial Stadium.
“I felt way more comfortable,” he said. “Being one of the top jumpers coming back here you just have a lot more confidence. You feel bigger out there.”
He hopes to go big today on his final jumps as a Lathrop High athlete. Hunter advanced to Day 2 once again after finishing in the top 12 of Friday’s preliminaries, but this time he wants to return home with a top-six medal.
Not coming back is Sierra standout hurdler Bikram Thiara. A sixth-place medalist a year ago, he narrowly missed a berth in the 300-meter hurdles on his return appearance.
For Hunter, his focus Friday was to reacquaint himself and make it through. He did so easily, hitting the opening mark of 6 feet, 3 inches on his second try. He then cleared 6-5 on his final attempt but would have advanced with a miss. Hunter is seeded eighth, with four finalists failing to hit 6-5.
“The approach area was kind of slippery because you go from grass to the mat,” he said. “Once I had adjusted to it I felt good. I (missed 6-5) twice but knew what I was doing wrong each time and got progressively better.”
Trabuco junior Sean Lee passed on the opening height and easily nailed 6-5 on his first attempt before calling it a day. He already has silver and bronze medals from previous state meets.
Sac-Joaquin Section champion Jake Grimsman of Vista del Lago is the second-seeded finalist, and Alemany’s Earnest Sears is No. 4 after he avoided elimination on his last shot on the opening height. Lee and Sears are the only two high jumpers in the state to eclipse the 7-foot barrier this year.
“I definitely want to medal, get into that top six,” Hunter said. “I’m going try to (set a personal record) at 6-9 and hopefully that’s good enough for top three.”
Thiara hoped his race would be good enough to crack the top nine in the 300 hurdles. He was the runner-up in the third of four heats, finishing in 38.03 seconds — six-tenths faster than his finals qualifying time a year ago.
“I was just focused on my race but I did see everybody else running some pretty fast times,” Thiara said. “Going in I knew I had to get top two in my heat and thought that would have done it, but I guess my heat was slow.”
The four heat winners and the next five fastest competitors move on. Thiara ended up 10th. He was beat out by Great Oak’s Jeremiah Ruger, who clocked a 37.80.
Last week, Thiara broke his own school record in winning the SJS Masters finals in 37.27, upsetting Valley Oak League rival Deion Lightfoot of Kimball in the process. Lightfoot had the second fastest time (36.83) Friday and was one of four to cross the finish with sub 37-second times.
“All the work I put in since I started running track, it’s a down-the-drain kind of deal, that’s what it felt like,” Thiara said. Sierra’s record holder in both hurdle events has signed to Cal Poly.
“Being a competitive athlete, it’s hard to think about (the future) right now,” he added. “There were a lot of expectations on me from my family, my coaches, my friends and I felt like I let everybody down. I let myself down.”