Holden Fishburn had low expectations of himself heading into the 2019 track and field season.
Different story for 2020.
This was supposed to be the glorious end to an already-prosperous senior year that included a surprising — well, not-so surprising to him — Sac-Joaquin Section championship in football.
“I was super excited for the season,” Fishburn said. “My marks picked up right where I left off last season and I started doing really well in practices. I probably got excited too quick, but I thought it would have been a good season.”
The strapping standout from Sierra High had good reason to believe that a return trip to the California Interscholastic Federation State Track & Field Championships was in the making before the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out the rest of the spring sports season.
In Sierra's own season-opening meet, the Timberwolf Invitational, Fishburn tallied first-place measurements of 50 feet, 4 ½ inches in the shot put and 147-8 in the discus throw. These marks are not far off his personal records of 50-11 ½ and 151-9 set late last year when he claimed individual titles in the SJS Division III Finals and third in both events in the SJS Masters Championships.
At the state meet in Clovis, Fishburn placed 16th in the discus and 22nd in the shot. Making it back to Buhachan High's Veterans Memorial Stadium on May 29-30 and improving on those finishes would have been the ideal way for him to close out his athletic career.
“It's definitely sad to know that I'm done with that aspect in my life, but I got to compete at state as a junior against some great athletes,” Fishburn said. “It makes me feel good about my abilities as an athlete and what I got to achieve in my high school career.”
Included is the SJS Division IV football title that few saw coming. The Timberwolves knocked off a reigning state champion and top-seeded Rio Linda in the semifinals, then avenged a loss to Valley Oak League rival Oakdale a week later.
Fishburn, who led the defense at middle linebacker, showed confidence in his team during a preseason interview with the Manteca Bulletin.
“I said there was no reason why we can't do it and when people saw that they thought I was crazy,” Fishburn said. “People at school even laughed, and when it actually happened I got to say, 'Told you.' People didn't know what kind of team we had, and it worked out the way it was supposed to in the end.”
Fishburn is also a winner outside of athletics, though it should be noted he holds another title as Sierra's “Fittest on Campus” — the annual Cross-Fitesque competition was of course called off because of coronavirus, leaving him as the reigning champ after claiming it last year.
Fishburn is headed to University of Montana, where he is using a scholarship from Army ROTC that will cover three years of tuition. He'll study health and human performance to become a strength and conditioning coach.
“Hopefully at the college level, but I wouldn't mind working for a high school football team,” Fishburn said. “May be I can be part of another kid's senior year that I didn't get.”