SACRAMENTO — Despite being in sixth place with only 300 meters remaining, Davis High's Chris Izquierdo never once felt that he might be in trouble.
"I've got a strong kick, and it keeps me from feeling any panic if I'm in a pack near the finish," the senior said. "Once we came off the turn, I opened it up."
Izquierdo's stunning finish — he overtook four runners and was within a few meters of winning the race — led to second place in the 800 meters at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Meet.
That earned Izquierdo a trip to next week's CIF State Meet in Clovis. He is one of eight Stanislaus District athletes going to the nation's premier prep meet.
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The district had two champions: Buhach Colony's Rebecca Hammar (discus) and Modesto's Stephanie Stavrianoudakis (triple jump).
For pure excitement, however, it was tough to top Izquierdo's finish in the 800.
He was a frontrunner for the first lap, then tumbled to sixth on the back stretch. Off the final turn, though, he found his next gear and roared past three runners.
"I was thinking 'Third, so I'm going to state,' " said Izquierdo. "Then I realized I had a shot at the next guy, too, so I sold out and put everything that I had left into catching him for second."
Izquierdo, whose time of 1 minute, 55.5 seconds, was a personal best, trailed Del Campo's Matt Case (1:54.67) by only three yards and was closing fast at the end.
"I went all the way out to lane four off the turn because I felt if I got in the open, I could make a big move," he said. "It felt great just flying past those guys."
There was a potential disaster, however, when Izquierdo challenged Rodriguez's Kieran Broussard with 50 meters remaining. They nearly clicked heels before Izquierdo was able to pull in front, putting him in third and the State Meet.
"The top three spots, that's what everyone comes here for," Izquierdo said. "It's the motivation for all that we do."
Hammar, a sophomore hoping to follow in the footsteps of her sister Rachel, did just that by winning the discus with a personal best of 141-10.
Already in the State Meet by virtue of a second-place finish in the shot put in Thursday's final, Hammar took the lead in the discus on her second throw.
"My previous best was 136 feet, but I've had a couple real good practices and I felt great coming into today," said Hammar, whose sister Rachel was a three-time State Meet qualifier in the shot.
"She didn't go to state as a sophomore in the discus, so I've got that one. Seriously, there's no rivalry. She helps me a lot, but I also like to think I help her."
Rachel, now a freshman throwing at Long Beach State, won two Masters titles in the shot but never the discus. Rebecca was the No. 2 seed, qualifying with a 136-9, but that was only two feet behind Vacaville's Brianna French.
"As close as our marks were, I was more confident I could go to state in the discus than the shot," Hammar said. "Going to state in both? Wow! What else is there!"
Hughson's Becky Hobby, a freshman, was within one spot of going to the State Meet. She was fourth in the 1,600, but was thrilled with her late-season rush.
"I set a PR by six seconds, after setting it last week by seven seconds," said Hobby, who was in sixth after 800 meters.
She credited her family's farm for helping her get through the last 200 meters.
"The barn is about 200 meters from the house, so that's a good run," Hobby said. "I've been making that run for years, so when the race was coming to the end, I just thought of running out to the barn."
Livingston's Albert Millan, a junior, finished third in the shot put (53-2) to earn a trip to next week's meet. It was well below his PR of 54-3 — which he set last week — but he was still pleased.
"I was cautious on my (53-2) throw because I wanted to make sure I got a good one in," Millan said. "I tried to get a big throw later. but it wasn't working. I was going too fast, I think. It just felt off, but I've got another shot at it next week."
Merced's Afrikaa Holloway overcame long odds to reach state in the triple jump, beginning the day as the No. 9 seed but finishing third at 46-9½.
That last half-inch probably doesn't seem like much, but it was the difference between going to state or going home: The fourth-place finisher had a top jump of 46-9.
The half-inch cut both ways, however, because the second-place finisher was just a half-inch ahead of Holloway.
"What a great opportunity," said Holloway, after learning he's off to state. "This is the best jump I've ever had. I'm excited about jumping again next week. I think there's an even bigger jump inside me."