ELK GROVE — Brandy Coward ran the 200-meter dash with revenge on her mind.
The Buhach Colony High School junior was disappointed after a second-place finish in the 100 at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Track and Field Championships earlier in the day.
Coward ran away from the field in the 200, winning with a time of 24.85 seconds to win a Masters championship and earn a trip to the CIF State Meet next week in two events for the first time in her high school career.
“I’m happy, I feel content,” Coward said. “I got payback for the 100. I came out in the 200 and came after them after not winning the 100.”
Coward pulled out in front with about 90 meters left and crossed the finish line .33 seconds ahead of Bear Creek’s Jelia Brice-Montgomery, who won the 100.
“As we came out of the turn I felt I was out in front,” Coward said. “I kicked into gear that last 100. I always feel like I have something left that last 100 where a lot of girls are tired coming out of the turn.”
Coward was the only local athlete to earn a top-3 finish and qualify for state from Friday’s finals. She’ll join Golden Valley’s Ryan Pust (pole vault) and Afolabi Olabode (shot put), who both punched their tickets to state on Thursday, at Buchanan High in Clovis next week.
Coward qualified for the state in the 200 as a freshman and competed in the 400 as a sophomore.
This year she’s a double-qualifier.
“Coming to Masters, I thought I had a pretty good chance of going to state in both events, but I still always doubt myself,” she said. “I’m happy now. I feel accomplished.”
Coward wasn’t feeling that way earlier in the meet when she placed second in the 100. She was a little slow out of the blocks and was unable to catch Brice-Montgomery, who won with a time of 12.11. Coward crossed the finish line second at 12.15.
“I’m pretty disappointed,” she said. “I was hoping – since I won first at sections – to come out and take first today. Unfortunately that didn’t happen.”
Coward fell behind early and just didn’t have enough time to reel Brice-Montgomery in before the finish line despite closing fast at the end.
“I felt them pass me right away,” Coward said. “Yesterday I had a pretty good start. I was hoping to get the same kind of start. I was playing catch-up from the start. Fortunately I’ll have another opportunity next week at state.”
Merced sophomore Daniel Ambriz finished sixth in the 1,600 with a time of 4:23.52.
Ambriz set the pace in the first lap, but couldn’t sustain the speed for long.
“I wanted to be in front, I run well from the front,” Ambriz said. “I wanted to get the top 3 and go to state, but I got a little tired the last three laps.”
Merced teammate Jamar Turner gutted his way through the 300 hurdles after injuring his left knee during Thursday’s trials. Turner clipped the final hurdle on Thursday, leaving him with a stiff knee on Friday.
After hitting the third and fifth hurdles in the finals, Turner reinjured the knee and limped his way to a time of 45.22 seconds.
“After I hit the fifth hurdle I knew it wasn’t working,” Turner said. “But I’m not going to blame anything on an injury.”
For the sophomore Ambriz and the junior Turner, it was an opportunity to experience the finals in hopes of making a return trip next year.
“Next year hopefully I can come back and win it,” Ambriz said. “I can just take this as an experience. I think I can do way better next year.”
Merced senior Abel Aleman placed ninth in the 3,200 with a time of 9:33.95.
Livingston sophomore Tina Lao had a nice showing in the shot put with a seventh-place finish with a throw of 37 feet, 81/4 inches.
The Atwater discus duo of Armando Gauger (139-1) and Christopher Casares (137-10) finished 11th and 12th, respectively. Buhach Colony’s Pierce Hanning placed 17th with a throw of 130-5.
Golden Valley senior Mariyah Banks placed 15th in the 1,600, crossing the finish line in 5:22.91.
The Buhach Colony girls 4x100 relay team of Vanessa Andrade, Barbara Coward, Rai Ajua Slaton and Brandy Coward finished seventh with a time of 49.18.
The Atwater boys 4x100 relay team of Ezequiel Gutierrez, Edward Kemp, Angelo Olmos and Daniel Uribe also placed seventh with a time of 43.39.
Sun-Star staff writer Shawn Jansen can be reached at (209) 385-2462 or firstname.lastname@example.org.