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Sac Town liftoff: Five local track and field athletes punch ticket to state meet

SUN-STAR PHOTO BY JAMES BURNS Merced senior Afrikaa Holloway qualified for the CIF State Track and Field Championships on Friday with a third-place finish in the triple jump.
SUN-STAR PHOTO BY JAMES BURNS Merced senior Afrikaa Holloway qualified for the CIF State Track and Field Championships on Friday with a third-place finish in the triple jump. Merced Sun-Star

SACRAMENTO -- Afrikka Holloway isn't afraid to admit it. The Merced High senior was intimidated by some of his triple jump competitors.

Holloway had seen some of the marks they had put up last week.

Like the leap of 46 feet, 10 1/4 inches by Benicia's Chris Mamon and the 45-10 1/2 by Bear Creek's Dashawn Adger.

What did Holloway think of his chances at Friday's Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Meet?

"I thought fifth place would be good," Holloway said. "I read the paper and saw all the marks. It was intimidating."

Holloway surprised himself.

His leap of 46-9 1/2 was good enough for a third-place finish and clinched a berth in next week's CIF State Track and Field Championships in Clovis. Adger won the event with a leap of 47-7 1/2 and Mamon finished second with a jump of 46-10.

"I didn't think I'd get this far," Holloway said. "I was ecstatic when I saw the mark go up. I just came here to have fun. I've been trying to get to the state meet for awhile. It's exciting."

Holloway was one of five area athletes to punch their ticket to the state meet.

The finals of the girls triple jump was littered with local athletes. Golden Valley's Porsha Grayson and Buhach Colony's Rio Schwalbach both advanced to the state meet with second- and third-place finishes, respectively.

The two seniors opted not to compete in events on Thursday. Instead they attended Grad Night at Disneyland.

Being up all night and celebrating with their classmates didn't seem to affect their performances on Friday.

"I slept the whole bus ride home and slept again the whole ride up here," Grayson said. "I was surprised how much energy I had.

"I wanted to compete in the long jump (on Thursday). But it's my senior year and you're only a senior once. I'm glad I went to Grad Night."

Grayson earned her medal with her personal-best leap of 37-1. Schwalbach and Merced's Jealinda Mills both tied for third with jumps of 36-10 1/2. However, Schwalbach's second-best jump of 36-6 1/2 edged out Mills' mark of 36-1 1/2 to earn the bronze and a berth in next week's state meet.

Buhach Colony's Rebecca Hammar had already qualified for state with a second-place finish in the shot put on Thursday.

Hammar became a double state qualifier when she won the discus with a throw of 140-10. The throw came on her second toss of the day.

"It was great to get it out of the way early," Hammar said. "I wanted to get first and I wanted to hit 140 feet. I got both."

Hammar fell just short of the school record of 141 feet set by her sister, Rachel, who was in attendance on Friday.

The younger Hammar had a tough time concentrating after setting her personal record on her winning throw.

"My sister was laughing," Rebecca said. "She said, 'It's OK, you're a little PR drunk right now.' I was just too excited."

It was a day of highs and lows for area athletes in the shot put. Livingston senior Albert Millan will join Hammar, Holloway, Grayson and Schwalbach in Clovis with a third-place finish with a throw of 53-02.

Meanwhile, Buhach Colony's Roddy Dash saw his year come to an end. Dash finished just out of the top three, which would have earned him a state berth. Dash finished fourth with a throw of 52-2 1/2.

Other notable finishes on Friday included:

Livingston's Matt Wooding scooted across the finish line in eighth place in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 15.25 seconds.

The Atwater 4 x 100 boys relay team of Julian Horta, Jacob Bautista, Steven Buffer and Steven Odom finished in eighth place with a time of 43.33 seconds.

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