ELK GROVE — Hannah Chappell walks with purpose into the ring, like a boxer stepping through the ropes for a championship fight.
The Oakdale High School sophomores grip on the discus is geared for maximum distance. When she spins and unleashes, she explodes like an uncoiled spring. The platter flies off her hands to places about which her opponents can only dream.
Chappell claimed her second straight Sac-Joaquin Section Masters title Thursday at Elk Grove High by turning the event into a formality after her first throw. Her four best efforts, topped by a finishing 139 feet, 9 inches, beat everyone else. It was also more than a foot better than her victorious Masters result a year ago, proving that shes far from finished.
It was good to get it (an opening 136-4) out of the way, Chappell said. I was more excited than nervous this year. It gets more fun the farther you go. Thats what next week is for.
Next week was a reference to the CIF State Championships at Clovis Buchanan High. Chappell placed seventh as a wide-eyed freshman there in 2013.
She earned a return trip with the win and will join the sections top three including runner-up and four-time state qualifier Kayla OBrine of St. Francis next week.
Chappell and Company understand tracks step-by-step process. The discus, one of six field-event finals Thursday, called for a placing in the top eight just to reach the three-throw finals. Then, the top three advance.
Chappell gave a thumbs-up to friends after her first throw, a stress-lightening effort that guaranteed her trip to Clovis. What was especially encouraging, however, is that she was far from her top form. She has tossed 149-6.
One problem was timing. On three occasions, she was stopped by the official only a few seconds before she ignited. That partly explained her three fouls. She likes to be in continuous motion in the ring.
Kind of irritating, Chappell admitted. I had my flow going.
Golden Valley boasted two Masters victors in pole vaulter Ryan Pust and shot-putter Afolabi Olabode. Pust cleared a personal-best 16-7, which ranks him No. 11 nationally, and missed three times at 17 1/4.
Olabode earned his second state berth after a lively battle with Folsoms Jonah Williams. Minutes after Williams took the lead, Olabode closed the competition with a winning strike of 60-61/4.
A different kind of anxiety greeted the lane-event athletes at the Masters. In each event through the 800 meters, three heats were staged. The eight finals berths went to the three heat winners and the other five fastest times.
Buhach Colonys Brandy Coward, a double-winner at last weeks Division 1 meet, captured heats in the 100 and 200 and coasted into the finals. Her 12.07 seconds in the 100 was the best overall time.
Pitman senior Aaron Mayfield won his heat of the 800 and was slotted third overall (1:57.61). Patterson senior Daniel Kelepi also earned a finals berth with an overall fifth in the 110-meter hurdles (14.7).
Modesto Christian senior Lexi Tubbs, second in her heat of the 100 hurdles, was fifth overall (15.18). So was Central Catholic senior Cameron Olson in the 400 (49.23).
The Manteca girls 4x100 relay quartet Summery Kirby, Jade Griffin, Sophie Barragan and Raygan Both qualified seventh overall.
East Union junior Jordan McNeal dodged a slow start in the 100 and, though she barely lost her heat to Lyndsey Settle of Rocklin, her 12.30 was seventh-best overall. She advances to the Masters finals for the first time.
Meanwhile, Chappell already looks forward to the pressure-cooker at the state meet. Her 149-6 is a distant No. 2 behind Dos Pueblos senior Stamatia Scarvelis (172-7), the defending state champion in the shot put and third in the discus.
Last year was a great experience, just a different meet, the size and the competition, she said. This year, Ill have a better feel for it.