With hard work and dedication, Golden Valley’s Ryan Pust became an elite pole vaulter in the state, finishing fifth at the CIF State Track and Field Championships.
Buhach Colony’s Brandy Coward already is one of the top sprinters in the Sac-Joaquin Section. Her next step is excelling at the state level.
Both Pust and Coward are repeating as the Sun-Star Track and Field Athletes of the Year; Coward has earned the honor three consecutive years.
Pust entered the season with lofty expectations, including breaking the Golden Valley school record by clearing 17 feet.
Pust’s highest mark came at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters when he won by clearing 16 feet, 7 inches. He stalled at 16 feet the following week at the state meet.
“At first I was little disappointed, I thought I’d do better,” Pust said. “I hadn’t performed like I had been doing the last couple weeks. At the end of the day, I’m happy it ended that way. I still have two more meets left. I still had a decent season.”
Pust will compete June 28 at the Golden West Invitational in Sacramentoand July 6 at Junior Nationals in Eugene, Ore.
Despite falling short on some of his goals, the season was hardly a disappointment.
The Golden Valley senior was at his best late as he won Central California Conference, Sac-Joaquin Section Division I and Masters championships. He reached new heights each week.
“I’m happy I (broke my personal record),” Pust said. “The first half of the season I didn’t move very far. I was kind of stuck at the same spot.”
That’s where Pust’s maturity showed. In the past, his frustration would carry over to practice and he’d soon find himself in a tailspin. This year, Pust said he had maybe one bad practice.
“I learned from last year that if I let it get to me, I do bad things,” he said. “I’ve learned to forget about it and move on to the next meet.”
While Pust excelled most at pole vault, he was also one of the top sprinters and long jumpers in the CCC.
Like Pust, Coward has already set high goals for next season.
“My goal is to get to a state final,” the Buhach Colony junior said. “If not, I want to do the best that I can. I do want to get better. I want to make a big name for myself.”
Coward wrapped this season by advancing to the state meet in her third different event, running the 100 and 200 meters. Last year she ran the 400, a season after qualifying in the 200 as a freshman.
This year, she won the masters title in the 200 with a time of 24.85 seconds and finished second in the 100 (12.15). A week earlier at the Division I championships, she tied a meet record, winning the 200 in 24.45.
To become a threat at the state level, Coward knows it’s going to take a lot of work.
“It’s going to take a lot more focus,” she said. “It’s going to take time and dedication.”
Coward made big strides in lowering her times this year. If that is any indicator, she’s going to be one to beat in the section next year.
“You have to improve yourself,” she said. “Coaches can tell you how to fix something, but in the end you have to be the one dedicated. You have to put the work in. Coaches and parents can only tell you so much. It’s up to you to put the time in.”
Sun-Star staff writer Shawn Jansen can be reached at (209) 385-2462 or email@example.com.