Nicole Warwick fidgeted nervously on the runway. Her final event in high school competition had not gone to her liking.
The multi-talented Modesto Christian graduate opened the long jump at 19 feet, 4 inches – ordinary for her – and had not improved on it. She slipped to fourth place and here she was Saturday night, facing her final attempt at the 99th CIF State Championships, seeking that special something.
“No more thinking. This is it,” implored John Warwick, her father and MC coach, as he sat in the first row. “This is yours. Just let it go.”
Warwick let it go, all right, with a 20-2 3/4, a personal best by 2 1/2 inches. It leapfrogged her to an impressive runner-up finish at what’s billed the best high school meet in the country.
“I was angry,” she said. “I wasn’t happy until that last jump.”
It took the best athlete at Buchanan’s Veterans Memorial Stadium – Agoura’s Tara Davis – to beat Warwick. Davis, bound for Georgia, was sensational. She seized control on her third attempt with a legal 22-1, erasing a record held for 24 years by Marion Jones (Davis went a wind-aided 22-1 1/4 on her final try). She won the 100-meter hurdles minutes later and, for good measure, won the gold medal in the triple jump.
“I still confuse her (Nicole) with her twin (Meagan),” Davis said. “She pushed me. I know that. She got a PR at the state meet. I’m happy for her.”
Warwick, seventh last year, improved this season by 18 inches. But until the end, her third appearance at the state meet didn’t meet her expectations.
20-2 3/4 Nicole Warwick’s PR in long jump
Her trials Friday in the 100 hurdles left her frustrated. She was timed in 14.40 for 10th place, .15 shy of a lane in the finals. A day later, she stood alone on the runway after five below-average results. She had not approached her Masters-winning 20-1/4.
“I didn’t come here to get fourth. I didn’t come here to jump 19-4, for sure,” she said. “I ramped up. I was ready to go. My legs were dead, but God in heaven gave me the strength.”
Lathrop’s Isaias Hunter, who tied for seventh last year in the high jump, improved to fourth and earned his first state medal. He cleared 6-3 and 6-5 on his first tries before he missed three times at 6-7. Sean Lee of Trabuco Hills won at 6-11.
Golden Valley’s Shawn Bettencourt ended a briliant career with a fifth in the 110 hurdles, thanks to a PR 13.94.
Only four Stanislaus District athletes reached the state finals out of 19 qualifiers in 22 events. There were two close misses in Friday night’s trials.
Enochs graduate Claire Seymour, the 2016 Masters champion who placed third last week, missed a finals berth by only .14 in the 400. She ran a 55.78 in her heat and was edged for the ninth and final spot by Vista del Lago’s Emily Costello.
Sierra grad Bikram Thiara, sixth in the state last year in the 110s, did not get a second chance in the finals. His 37.80 left him in 11th place, .23 from the final.
Downey graduate Anne Stuart, the two-time state qualifier who won the Section Masters high jump last week, missed three times at 5-2.
Central Catholic’s DaRon Bland, last week’s Masters long jump champion, opted out of the state meet in favor of a senior-class function. Both he and teammate Jahi Corbin, a state qualifier in the high jump, informed officials after the Masters meet.
I didn’t come here to get fourth. I didn’t come here to jump 19-4, for sure.
MC’s Meagan Warwick long jumped 18-0 3/4 and finished 15th. She fell about five inches short of the finals. Gregori freshman Naomi Chappell was 21st at 17-6.
Pitman junior Whitney Barnes placed 14th in the trials of the shot put (39-1/4).
Dominique Navarrette, a junior at El Capitan who won the Masters discus last week, was 18th in the trials (158-1).
Gregori junior Cameron Goldman posted a 20-7 1/2 in the long jump and was 27th.