On to State Finals for three from area

Pust and Olabode come through on last chances

ragostini@modbee.comJune 1, 2013 

— CLOVIS — The 95th CIF Track and Field Championships honors California's best athletes — their talent, their pluck and, perhaps most important, their sense of the moment.

That third factor was illustrated graphically Friday night by Golden Valley juniors Ryan Pust and Afolabi Olabode and Atwater senior Dallas Hoofard. All three have extended their respective seasons to the final day of the state's most important meet.

Olabode's first two attempts in the shot put failed to push him into the important final 12 who compete tonight. But the last one, a toss of 57 feet, 11 inches, did the trick.

"The distance was OK, but the technique still needs work," Olabode said.

Both Olabode and Pust were ranked in the top 10 of their events going into State. Expectations for them doubled, and both delivered.

Ryan Pust, one year after he watched his brother Steven finish fourth at State in the pole vault, was caught in the same jam as Olabode. He had to clear 15-53/4 on his final try or his season ended on the spot.

He nailed it with room to spare. His best is 15-10, so he'll be a factor tonight.

Hoofard, the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters champion in the 300-meter hurdles, turned in a credible 38.24 seconds for a second in his heat. That time put him eighth overall, good for a trip to the finals.

"It was OK," said Hoofard, a tough self-critic. "I'm glad I didn't do horrible."

Golden Valley senior Harman Purewal, a runner-up at Elk Grove last week, no-heighted and bowed out of the high jump. Still, he was one of 27 of the state's best in his event.

In fact, the season started with more than 98,000 California track and field athletes. They were pared to 903 entries here, 100 from the section. So just getting to the season's final meet meant something.

Buhach Colony sophomore Brandy Coward qualified for State last year in the 200. This year, she sped to a a 57.80 for eighth place in her heat of the 400. Her goal in 2014 is another trip to State — in the 100.

"Last year, my legs were numb. Today, I was ready to run," Coward said. "I hope to come back next year in the 100."

Faith Makau, of Modesto's Enochs High, won one and lost one.

In her best event, the 1,600 meters, she failed to reach the finals by three-tenths of a second.

She redeemed herself in the 800, surpassing even her own expectations.

"I learned a lot about myself today," said Makau, who swept to victories in both races at last week's Sac-Joaquin Section Masters. "When you think you know it all, you'll find out there is a factor you weren't aware of."

Oddly, it was her loss in the 1,600 that made her run all the harder in the 800.

"That was the toughest race I've ever been in," she said. "That's why I didn't scratch out of the 800 because I figured things like that could happen."

Modesto Bee staff writer Ron Agostini can be reached at ragostini@modbee.com or (209) 578-2302. Follow Ron via Twitter @modbeesports.

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