Ryan Pust woke up at 4:30 a.m. Friday, ready to go. The only problem was he had about eight hours to kill before the CIF State Track and Field Championships.
After failed attempts of going back to sleep, Pust got up and spent the day playing video games and chess to get his mind off the meet. Later, he watched the movie “Prefontaine“ for inspiration.
Whatever Pust did worked, as he cleared heights of 15 feet, 3 inches and 15-9 to earn one of 10 spots in today’s pole vault finals at Buchanan High School.
“I went to bed early (Thursday) night. I just didn’t expect to be up at 4:30,” said Pust, who graduated from Golden Valley on Thursday night. “I played League of Legends and some chess with my dad.”
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Pust then had to wait a good hour in the infield of the track before he came in at 15-3.
A miss on his first attempt raised his heartbeat a bit. Three misses at a height and you’re eliminated.
“I got nervous,” Pust said. “You start thinking, ‘Am I on the right pole? What did I do wrong?’ It got in my head a little bit. I just had to man up.”
Pust easily cleared 15-3 on his next attempt and sailed high over the bar on his first attempt at 15-9.
“That was a good clear,” Pust said. “Hopefully, the other guys were watching. Maybe that will scare them.”
Pust has his lofty expectations for today’s finals.
“I’m confident I can jump 17 feet,” said Pust, who would tie a school record set by Mike Landers in 2001 if he can clear 17. “Hopefully, I can get 17-4 and beat the meet record.”
Pust will be joined in today’s finals by Golden Valley teammate Afolabi Olabode, who finished in the top 12 in the shot put with a throw of 60-41/2, which was the third-best mark in the trials.
“I’m hoping to finish in the top six or better,” Olabode said. “When it comes down to it, I’m here to throw as far as I can.”
After topping 60 feet at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Championship last week, Olabode was happy to follow up with another throw over 60 feet at state.
“I keep looking for a 61,” he said. “I was feeling it. I didn’t have any pressure on me. I just had to throw.”
Buhach Colony’s Brandy Coward competed in the 100- and 200-meter dash but saw her season end. Coward’s time of 14.14 in the 100 ranked 19th on Friday. Coward happened to be in the same heat as Long Beach Poly star Arianna Washington, who recorded the second-fastest time in the nation this year with an 11.37. Washington has won five state gold medals during her high school career.
Coward’s time of 24.72 in the 200 was the 15th-fastest time.
“It’s definitely challenging,” Coward said. “I was watching the heat before me in the 200 and they were running 23 seconds. Man, I want to get there. Hopefully, someday I’ll get to run in the state finals. It’s a little intimidating watching some of these girls. Hopefully, I can work to where the other girls are looking at me that way.”