A little more than two years ago, Latrisha Jordan was a gangly sophomore who had little track and field experience.
Hurdling was something she decided to do on a whim. It paid off.
Jordan was the Stanislaus District's top girls hurdler in the 100- and 300-meter events and one of its top 400-meter runners. She parlayed her speed and technique in the 300 hurdles into a berth in the CIF State Track and Field Championships, where she surprised the field by placing fifth and earning a medal.
For her efforts, Jordan has been named The Bee's 2008 girls track and field athlete of the year. She's the first Central Valley High athlete to be named a Bee athlete of the year in any sport.
It was a season in which Jordan set modest goals.
"Early, I wanted to go undefeated in league," she said. "But as my season went on, I felt I could do a little better."
She not only won the Valley Oak League 300 hurdles title, she won the same race by 1.5 seconds at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III championships. Then, after just missing a state meet berth when she placed fourth in the 100 hurdles, she won the 300 at the Section Masters championships. That led to her fifth-place finish at state.
"When I finished at state, I was both happy and sad," Jordan said. "I wanted to finish higher. But then I thought about it for a little bit."
Her final statistics: fifth in the state and the 13th-fastest 300 hurdles time in the nation.
"Yeah, I'm pretty happy with that," she said.
Jordan's season keeps getting better. She said she's signing a national letter of intent today to run for Fresno State.
"I'm going to keep running," she said. "I got an early offer from New Mexico, and after state, a few more colleges called. But Fresno State is where I'm going."
Jordan can stick with the hurdles, and she can also transition into long sprints.
"All year, the plan was to run the 400 as well," she said. "But when it got to the postseason, I had to make a choice."
It was an easy choice. And it paid off.
Bee staff writer Will DeBoard can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2300.