SACRAMENTO — A trip to the CIF State Meet is motivation enough to convince elite athletes to run faster, jump higher and throw farther.
For the dozen or so Stanislaus District athletes who are in position to earn a berth in the nation's top high school meet, their season will come down to these next two days.
Deliver a top performance and it's off to state — perhaps with a Sac-Joaquin Section championship medal. Hit the bar on the way over or jump before the gun, and it's over.
No trip to state, no medal.
That's the pressure they'll face today and Friday at the Masters Meet at Hughes Stadium. The running trials and finals in six field events begin today at 3 p.m., while the rest of the finals will be on Friday.
While it's a lean year on the track — there is not a district runner seeded higher than fourth — there is plenty of promise in the field events.
The district has three of the top nine seeds in the girls' discus and triple jump, and two of the top three in the boys' discus. There's also quantity in the girls' pole vault, with 10 district athletes jumping.
If the district has a double-qualifier for state, it's likely to be Golden Valley's Porsha Grayson. The senior is the No. 2 seed in the long jump and No. 5 in the triple jump.
Stanislaus District Track & Field Contenders
There are the half-dozen Stanislaus District athletes who have the best opportunity to win a Sac-Joaquin Section title at the Masters Meet:
- Stephanie Stavrianoudakis, Modesto: The top seed in the triple jump (36 feet 11¾ inches), four others topped 36 feet at a division meet. This is the Stanislaus District's top event — Buhach Colony's Rio Schwalbach is No. 2 (36-8) and Golden Valley's Porsha Grayson is No. 5 (36 feet).
- Albert Millan, Livingston: The No. 2 seed in the shot put (54-3) with a career best last week, he's only 15 inches behind the top seed. Of course, Buhach Colony's Roddy Dash (53-8) is on his heels at No. 3.
- Porsha Grayson, Golden Valley: The No. 2 seed in the long jump (17-4¾), she is one of 12 athletes who were between 17 feet and 17-7½ last week. Sierra's Taylor Wilson (17-2) and Merced's Jealinda Mills (17-½) are just a big jump from state.
- Rebecca Hammar, Buhach Colony: The sophomore threw the discus 136-9 to get a No. 2 seed — behind another soph, Vacaville's Brianna French (138-10). They're the only two who topped 131 feet last week.
- Brandon Cavanaugh, Escalon: The No. 3 seed in the discus (156-11), he's only 6 feet — that's just one good throw — from being the No. 1 seed.
- Tyler Murdoch, Oakdale: The Stanislaus District's top pole vaulter went 14 feet, but the four seeded ahead of him topped 15 feet last week. The vault, though, is among the most difficult to gauge. It's often a boom or bust event.