MERCED — Holden Fishburn wasn’t feeling too confident going into the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III meet.
He left Golden Valley High’s Veterans Stadium on Thursday with his second first-place medal of the week. The Sierra junior is one of just two Manteca Unified athletes to come away with individual section titles.
Fellow Timberwolf Miranda Miller broke her own school record in the pole vault and qualified for the SJS Masters Championships in three events. The top six placers and others who meet or surpass at-large marks advance to Masters, which takes place May 17-18 at Davis High.
Fishburn is a double winner in the throwing events. On Thursday, he was already comfortably in the lead for the shot put crown with a mark of 49 feet, 11 inches. He bettered that measurement by exactly 1 foot on his final try, but it was a half inch shy of tying a personal record.
“It would feel a whole lot better if it was a PR but it was pretty awesome,” Fishburn said of his impressive finish. He was the only competitor to eclipse 50 feet, and runner-up Brandon Davis of Golden Valley topped out at 49-1.
Fishburn’s win in the discus throw on Tuesday was more of a surprise. It’s an event he hadn’t won in a big meet, and he was seeded fourth. Fishburn ended up shattering his PR with a toss of 147-9 — an improvement of 4 feet, 10 inches from his previous best.
“I was having terrible practices, but I come here and somehow my marks were just way better,” Holburn said. “There were guys out here who weren’t throwing as well as I’ve seen them throw in the past, but I was able to PR by 5 feet in the discus and nearly PR’d in the shot.
“Hopefully I can throw way farther (at Masters) than I did this week.”
Miller continues her out-of-nowhere ascension in the field events. A former gymnast and first-year track athlete in 2018, she was the only local qualifier for the CIF State Championships while establishing a new program record in the long and triple jumps.
The CSU Bakersfield signee is now an accomplished vaulter. No Sierra female had previously cleared 10 feet until this season, and on Thursday she did in three times. She finished at 11-3 — Vista del Lago’s Sky Kezmoh placed second at 10-9 — and opted not to raise the bar from there.
“I had to do the long jump at the same time, so I did three jumps there and ran right back to pole vault,” Miller said. “I was in third place, but I was really trying for 11-3 and I made it. I stopped right there because I had to do the long jump finals.”
She medaled in the long jump, leaping 16-6 for fourth place. Miller is also the Division III triple jump runner-up, turning in a 37 1 ½ mark on Tuesday.
“It’s really exciting I’m going to leave something behind at the school,” Miller said. “I didn’t know I was going to do track until last year and pole vault was something new. I just kept an open mind and was optimistic about the whole thing. It’s a fun event to do.”
East Union’s Julia Vezaldenos is returning to the Masters meet but not in the event she expected. She advanced in the 300-meter hurdles and high jump last year but is going back in the 100 hurdles — an event she started doing in the middle of the season.
After clocking the seventh fastest qualifying time in the trials, she improved to fourth place in the final and clocked a sub-16-second time for the first time at 15.86. Vezaldenos walked past the scoreboard near the finish line to check her time and looked at her coach, Rick Cuevas, with wide eyes.
“I’ve only run this race six times and I happened to PR every time by just a little bit,” said Vezaldenos, a state qualifier for cross country last fall. “I was able to do it again today and I’m just really excited about that.”
She beat out East Union teammate Alexus Surnip, who took sixth in 15.98. Bound for Sac State, Surnip is the reigning Valley Oak League champion in the 100 hurdles and long jump. She took fifth in the long jump (16-6 ½).
East Union freshman Maury Ortiz also had an exciting moment. He narrowly earned a spot at Masters with his sixth-place finish in the 1,600. Ortiz set a new personal record in 4 minutes, 32.04 seconds, outkicking Christian Brothers’ Enrique Verschoor (4:32.12) for the final berth.
East Union’s Jadyn Snaer is a two-event Masters qualifier after placing third in the 100 (12.33) and surpassing the at-large time 200 (seventh, 25.82).
Sierra’s Jeida Lavender (400, fifth, 1:00.19) and Nicholas Stanley (110 hurdles, sixth, 15.26) also advance. Stanley is part of the qualifying mile relay team — Jerardo Salcedo, Saul Contreras, David Correa — that placed fourth in 3:27.49.
East Union’s Jaidyn Valencia clinched her Masters berth on Tuesday, placing sixth in the triple jump (34-9).
The SJS Division III team titles went to Vacaville’s girls and El Capitan’s boys.