There were the requisite surprises, improvements and disappointments for the Modesto Junior College track and field teams Friday.
The good ultimately outweighed the bad for the host Pirates at the California Community College Northern California Championships.
Kevin Cooper won the men's 800 meters and Kapri Hockaday won the women's high jump to lead Modesto, which qualified in 16 events for the state meet May 16-17 at Norwalk.
Both the men's and women's teams finished fifth, short of the top-3 finish each squad was hoping for. With 78 points, the men finished 2.5 points behind fourth-place American River (80.5). Sacramento won the men's title with 164.5 points.
The women's scores were closer, with Laney (103) edging Shasta (98.5). Modesto totaled 66 points. Hockaday was the women's star, clearing a personal best 5 feet, 7 inches in the high jump.
She said she felt like she had a kangaroo in her behind and decided to go for a high mark even though her leap of 5-3 was enough to win the event.
"When I got over it, I thought, 'I feel really good today,' " Hockaday said. "I was in it. I haven't felt this good all year. I went cuckoo bananas and started jumping around."
Cooper might have celebrated his 800 win the way Hockaday did if he had the energy. In the final 100 meters, he moved up from fourth to first, slipping inside the pack to take the top spot with his personal best time of 1 minute, 53.82 seconds.
The field he beat included De Anza's Darren Rous, who entered the event with the top time in the state (1:53.78). Rous finished third and told Cooper he'd be looking for him on the inside at state.
"I really had to work to stay with those guys," Cooper said. "I could see (Rous) start to move out and I had a little bit of a window. I had to take it. I didn't think I had the energy to go all the way around."
Cooper joined Vance Anderson, Terrance Green and Remington Blair in qualifying for the 4x400 relay. The Pirates finished third in 3:12.27 -- a good time, but not the 3:11.81 they ran at the Big 8 Conference Championships last month. Anderson said the Pirates didn't feel right and it showed in a few technical mistakes.
"We know what it's like to lose in the 4x400 now," Anderson said. "We'll come back next week with a vengeance."
Among the other highlights was Blair finishing second in the men's 400 with a time of 47.92. Modesto's Ashley Taylor qualified in the 400, placing fourth in 58.47. Ana Mendez, who had finished second in the 10,000 last week to qualify for state, was fourth in the 5,000 (19:28.60). Elizabeth Miranda was sixth in the 3,000 steeplechase, qualifying in 13:18.5.
For more, visit Kelly Jones' blog at thehive.modbee.com/pointafter.