Modesto track and field
The expectations could not have been any higher for Modesto triple jumper Stephanie Stavrianoudakis, who carried the top seed into the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Meet. The senior soared a personal best 36 feet, 11¾ inches to win at the Division I Meet the previous week.
She topped that, however, by setting another PR with a jump of 37-5 to earn a berth in this week's CIF State Meet.
Stavrianoudakis needed just about every inch, too, because she was being chased by two of her Stanislaus District rivals: Golden Valley's Porsha Grayson (37-1) and Buhach Colony's Rio Schwalbach (36-10½) were second and third.
After jumping this week, Stavrianoudakis' shifts her focus to Sacramento State: She'll start classes in the fall, majoring in civil engineering.
Merced track and field
Of the eight Stanislaus District athletes off to the State Meet, Afrikaa Holloway is the biggest surprise. He was the No.9 seed with a qualifying leap of 44 feet 5 inches -- but only the top three finishers in each event at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Meet were assured a trip to state.
Holloway earned one of those cherished berths by uncorking the best performance of his life, going 46-9½ and edging out the fourth-place finisher by a mere half-inch.
"I felt great going down the runway, and confidence has a lot to do with a performance," said the senior, who is the No. 10 seed at state. "I'm excited about jumping (at state). I think there's an even bigger jump inside me."
Holloway is one of five Merced County athletes -- in six events -- who will be competing in this week's meet at Buchanan High in Clovis.
Hughson track and field
Versatility has been a strength of Kasey Fisher's during her four years in the Hughson track program. She runs, she jumps, she hands off batons and the senior even vaults herself into the air in an effort to score points for the Huskies.
Those skills earned Fisher three berths in the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Meet, and she came away with two fine performances following what could have been a disastrous start.
She was disqualified from the 100-meter hurdles for leaning forward prior to the gun, but bounced back to finish eighth in the pole vault with a height of 10 feet 3 inches and 11th in the 300 hurdles with a time of 47.30.
"I got great support from my teammates and my mom, and that helped me put it all back together," Fisher said. "I was happy with the way I ran in the 300 hurdles. I was nervous in the first race."
Livingston track and field
It's off to the CIF State Meet for the up-and-coming junior, who finished third in the shot put with a heave of 53 feet, 2 inches at the Sac-Joaquin Masters Meet. That was below his personal best of 54-3, which he had set at the Division III Meet the previous week, but still good enough to earn the No. 14 seed at state.
Millan said the breakthrough came earlier this season, when he tossed the shot over 50 feet at a Western Athletic Conference meet. That gave his confidence a boost.
"Once you get past a point like that, 50 feet or another big number, it pumps you up for the rest of the season," said Millan, who was eighth in the discus with a PR of 151-8 at the Masters Meet.
Though the State Meet is this weekend, Millan is already looking forward to next season and the possibility of reaching state in the two events.