Paul Lyons declared that he would be all business during his once-in-a-lifetime trip to the California Interscholastic Federation State Track and Field Championships at Buchanan High’s Veterans Memorial Stadium in Clovis Friday.
After Lyons’ first event it was evident he was not joking.
The Manteca High standout did the Buffaloes proud, advancing to the 110-hurdle final with a heat winning race of 14.33 seconds in the preliminaries. Lyons was the event’s fourth qualifier, coming in three spots behind top qualifier Johnathon Cabral of Agoura High’s time of 13.58.
Cabral was the only qualifier to slip under the 14 second mark.
“He’ll come in feeling confident for the finals,” Manteca head coach Seth Hogan said. “He’s got a good lane assignment and running next to a kid that he feels he’s pretty competitive with.
“P.J. is looking to get it done. He finished in the top-6 (Friday), so today should be a good race.”
Lyons was far from done with his high school swan song, coming back two hours later for the 300-hurdles. His bid to advance in both events fell short, with Lyons coming in fourth in his heat with a time of 38.39. Cabral took down the 300-hurdles as well with a time of 36.85.
His time left him with the 14th best qualifying time and one of the top-15 hurdlers in California high school athletics.
“He was pretty happy because that was actually his personal record in the 300,” Hogan said. “He came away happy with that race, he wasn’t feeling any pressure because he’d already qualified in the 110-hurdles. It really was a great thing for Manteca track and field. It’s been a decade-and-a-half at least since a Manteca kid has been in the finals.
“For P.J. to represent Manteca and the Buffaloes, I could not be more proud of how he represented not only our city, but our high school.”
Sierra High’s 4x100 relay quartet was able to post its first sub 42-second time of the season during the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Meet, but could not eclipse the mark Friday, closing an epic run Harold Wright, Stephen Thayer, Ulysses Knapps and Kolton Cody will share for a lifetime.
“Being 11th in the state of California, you can’t be upset about that,” Sierra head coach Anthony Chapman said. “Over 1,800 high schools in California, and to finish 11th is a huge accomplishment.
“There are a lot of people really proud of these boys.”
The relay squad raced a respectable 42.01 finish, taking fourth place in the second of three heats. Overall, the Timberwolves’ time left them less than a half second away from a spot in the finals. Sierra’s time was the 11th best on the day, and clearly nothing the group should hold their heads about.
“If you knew these kids individually, each and every one of them has had some challenges either this year or the last couple of years,” Chapman said. “They’ve overcome those obstacles and they have bonded as a team. We have nothing but praises, I could not be more happy for them. The bottom line is they created some memories for themselves that they’ll be able to tell their kids and grandkids about.
“If they would have run in Montana or South Dakota they would have been state champions.”
The track championships will begin at 6 p.m., with Lyons’ 110-hurdles event scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.