ELK GROVE Faith Makau's strength is matched only by her confidence and experience.
And when she hits her special gear, she wins Sac-Joaquin Section Masters championships.
Makau, the talented Enochs High senior, carved some history for herself Friday night at Elk Grove High by winning both the 1,600 meters and only about an hour later the 800.
When she crossed the finish line in the 800, Makau became the first athlete at Masters to double in the 800 and 1,600 since Lauren Mulkey of Woodcreek in 2004. She also successfully defended her title in the 1,600.
Which is why Makau, the native of Kenya, wore a wide smile when her work was done.
"It's all I wanted. That was the goal," she said later. "The push paid off."
Nearly as amazing was the discus title by Oakdale freshman Hannah Chappell, which gave Oakdale the boy-girls Masters double in the discus. Kyle Peterson, a junior, won the boys discus Thursday night.
There was no question, however, that Makau walked away as one of the outstanding performers at the section's most important meet. She'll lead nine Stanislaus District athletes in 11 events to the CIF Championships next week at Clovis' Buchanan High.
Makau set the foundation for her big night in the 1,600, still her favorite event. She positioned herself one stride off the shoulder of Bella Vista freshman Kendall Derry for about half the race. But with about 300 meters left, Makau accelerated and bolted past Derry.
There was no answer from the freshman, and Makau sped home in 4:54.48, more than 10 yards ahead of the runner-up. The Enochs star and Derry embraced at race's end.
"I knew I was strong," Makau said. "She looked good, too, so I didn't want to wait until the last minute. I'm fast but not that fast."
An 800-1,600 double wasn't considered by Makau until she was timed in personal bests in both races at the Meet of Champions about a month ago in Sacramento. She was teased, however, by her win in the 1,600 and fifth in the 800 at last year's Masters.
Once again, the issue was stamina. Would she have enough with the Masters finals staged only an hour apart?
Makau's answer came emphatically in the 800. Again just off the pace with about 200 meters left, she surged to the lead and held on over Han-Ah Sumner of Davis. Makau was timed in 2:13.78 but, more important, she set aside being outkicked in last week's section divisional final.
"I knew I was in better shape," said Makau, who will attend UC Riverside. "It was my senior year. I just went for both of them."
Chappell performed her own comeback in the discus. Stuck in seventh place with only two throws left, she launched 135 feet, 7 inches, into the winner's circle. Nearby, her father and coach Brett Chappell beamed.
"I had to focus on my mechanics and focus on bearing down and getting a throw out there," Chappell said. "This means I can go to state all four years."
Also State-bound is Modesto Christian's James Warwick, who overcame hamstring tightness to log a second in the 110 hurdles. His 14.34 was a personal best.
"Didn't practice all week," Warwick said. "I was taped really tight."
Sixth-place finishes were recorded by Pitman sophomore pole vaulter Lindsey Phillips (a personal-best 11-3), Turlock junior Cierra Booz in the long jump (17-9), Mikayla Florez of Riverbank in the 1,600 (5:05.93) and Central Catholic junior Spencer Stark in the shot put (52-3).
Sonora's Steven Grolle placed seventh in the 3,200 (9:30.64). Golden Valley's Ryan Pust moves on with a second in the pole vault (15-1).