SACRAMENTO — It wasn't the race Chris Izquierdo had planned on running, but with his season at stake, the Davis High senior realized he had to adapt to the situation.
"A group of runners got out early, at a faster pace than I had expected, and I realized I had to go with them," Izquierdo said. "I didn't want to give them too much room to run."
Izquierdo's decision proved wise, as he ran with the pack before sprinting to the finish to win his 800-meter heat at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Meet at Hughes Stadium.
The top nine finishers in all of Thursday's heats advance to tonight's finals. Tonight's top three go to the State Meet.
"This is my last chance, being a senior, so I knew I had to sell out to make sure I was running in the final," said Izquierdo, whose 1:57.18 was a fraction faster than his qualifying time of 1:57.26. "I have a PR (personal record) of 1:56, but I think I'll be able to get it to 1:53 or 1:54 in the final."
Izquierdo's key in the preliminary was his ability to stride with the pack through the first 300 meters, before using a sprint to overtake Rodriguez's Kieran Broussard.
"(Broussard) beat me twice, so it felt real good getting past him," said Izquierdo, who has spent the last week working with Davis' sprinters. "I get a lot of advice from them about how to run the last 100 meters of the race. They work with me on my sprint form."
Four runners were faster than Izquierdo, including top seed Matt Case of Del Campo (1:55.23), but he beat Case in last week's Division I final.
"There is going to be a time to go in the final, to try and get away from the pack. I've got to see that opportunity and take it," Izquierdo said.
Izquierdo won't be alone tonight: He'll get support from Davis' 1,600-meter relay team — Traejon Edwards-Hunter, Justin Nesbitt, Weston Toste and Drew Darnell. The quartet ran a 3:22.18 to finish second in its heat, the fourth-fastest time in qualifying races.
Riverbank sprinter Donovan Wallace turned in one of the night's gutsiest races, putting aside the pain of a back strain to advance in the 100. He earned the final spot in the nine-lane final, though he finished fifth in the last of the three heats. It was the fastest heat, however, and Wallace's 10.99 was .10 faster than he ran a week ago.
It was an emotionally trying day for Hughson's Kasey Fisher, a senior competing in three events at the Masters.
She suffered instant heartbreak when she was disqualified from the 100 hurdles for a false start. In tears afterward, Fisher regrouped to clock the 11th-fastest time in the 300 hurdles — missing state by .13 of a second.
"I've never DQ'd from any high school race, ever," said Fisher, who was knocked out of the race when an official said she leaned into the start. "I got great support from my teammates and my mom, and that helped me put it all back together. I was happy with the way I ran in the 300 hurdles. I was nervous in the first race, but I had settled down by the 300."
Fisher gets a last crack at advancing to State tonight when she competes in the pole vault. She went 10 feet a week ago, but will likely have to hit a 10-6 tonight to have a chance to advance.
"My PR is a 10-6, but I believe I've got an 11-foot vault in me," Fisher said. "This is what everyone wants as a senior, to be at this meet with a chance to get to State. You've got no reason to hold anything back in the final."
In other racing highlights:
Buhach Colony's Tenisha Eastman was 13th in the 100 (12.68), while Patterson's Amber Bond was 20th (12.93) in the 100 and 19th in the 200 (27.63).
Sonora's Kim Turner just missed a trip to the final, placing 11th in the 800 (2:24.14).
Modesto's Alexis Heredia was a fraction of a second from moving on in the 100 hurdles, finishing 10th (47.18), while Central Valley's Jasveen Brar was 16th (48.40).
Calaveras' Jake Hummel earned the No. 4 seed in the 400 final (49.93).
Livingston's Matt Wooding earned the No. 8 seed in the 110 high hurdles (14.94).
Atwater's 400 relay team — Juliann Horta, Jacob Bautista, Steven Buffer, Steven Odom — will be the No. 6 seed tonight (43.32).
Bee staff writer Rich Estrada can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2300.