If Golden Valley High School senior Afolabi Olabode was nervous for the big stage that is the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Track and Field Championships, he didn’t show it.
According to Cougars coach Tim Pust, Olabode slept during the entire two-hour car ride to Elk Grove High.
Nerves didn’t get the best of him during the shot put competition either.
Needing a big throw on his final attempt, Olabode uncorked a throw of 60 feet, 61/4 inches to win the championship and earn a trip to the CIF State Championships next week at Buchanan High in Clovis on Thursday evening.
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“I was going to leave it all out there,” Olabode said. “Just let whatever happens, happens.”
Olabode was one of two Golden Valley athletes to earn a Masters championship. Senior Ryan Pust set a personal record for the second consecutive week, clearing 16-7 to win the pole vault.
Olabode was out in front of the rest of the competition with a throw of 57-61/4 up until the sixth and final throw for the participants. That was until Folsom sophomore Jonah Williams launched a throw of 59-83/4.
Olabode only had one attempt left to retake the lead.
“I didn’t let it bother me,” Olabode said. “It did put me on edge. It did fire me up, but I already had top three so I knew I was going to state.”
Olabode’s final throw drew a big reaction from the small gathering watching the shot put. The throw even brought a smile to Olabode’s face.
“I did throw 60 feet earlier this year, but I kind of slumped after,” said Olabode, whose mark ranks seventh in California according to the website prepcaltrack.com. “I’ve been trying to climb back all season.”
Six field events were completed on Thursday with the top three finishers earning a trip to the state meet. The running events also held trials with the top eight qualifiers advancing to today’s finals.
Pust brushed the bar as he went over the top on his attempt and could only watch as the bar wobbled, but did not fall on his way down.
“I knew I hit it,” Pust said. “When I clear the bar I usually celebrate on the way down. I saw it wobbling so I didn’t get the celebrate. I was just staring at the bar, watching it wobble. I was just thinking stay up there.”
Pust’ mark of 16-7 is fourth in the state and 11th in the nation. After clearing 16-7, Pust went after the Golden Valley school record of 17 feet – set by Mike Landers in 2001 – but failed at his three attempts at 171/4.
“I didn’t think any of my attempts (at 171/4) were that great,” Pust said. “I feel I was too pumped up. In a way I’m glad I didn’t get it. That’s something I want to do at state.”
Buhach Colony’s Barbara Coward reached the finals in the discus and finished sixth with a throw of 125-2.
Coward did team up with her sister, Brandy, Vanessa Andrade and Rai Ajua Slaton to qualify eighth in the 4x100-meter relay to advance to today’s finals with a time of 49.40 seconds.
Brandy Coward highlighted the local contingent in the running events by qualifying for the finals in the 100 and 200. Her time of 12.07 was the top time in the 100. She ran a 24.05 in the 200 to win her heat and qualify third.
“I didn’t run as hard as I usually do in the turn on the 200,” Brandy said. “Tomorrow I plan on doing that and hopefully I’ll run in the 24s like I have been. Hopefully I can qualify for state in both the 100 and 200.”
Merced’s Jamar Turner qualified seventh in the 300 hurdles with a time of 40.29.
Atwater senior Armando Gauger finished seventh in the shot put with a toss of 52-43/4.