2019 BOYS FIELD ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Caleb Foster won the long jump and the triple jump at the State Championships. (Credit: DeAnna Turner)
This is the next installment of a series featuring individual recognition from the 2019 track and field season. This feature article looks at the 2019 MileSplitCA Boys Field Athlete of the Year.
Naythn Scruggs refers to him simply as 'The GOAT.'
The reference is an acronym that may not accurately describe Caleb Foster as the 'Greatest Of All Time' just yet, but the Clovis North High junior has another season in which to make a prophet out of Scruggs.
Foster certainly laid a solid foundation as the future embodiment of that description by winning both horizontal jumps at the CIF-State Championships in May, as well as placing second in the 110-meter hurdles and helping the 4x100 relay team to a silver medal while accumulating 28 points on his own -- 36 counting the relay -- in leading Clovis North to its first State team title in school history.
Considering that team runner-up Elk Grove Monterey Trail (SJ) totaled 27 points, Foster's two golds and a silver was really all Clovis North (CS) would need.
"The GOAT," Scruggs said before the question about Foster could be asked. "The GOAT. That's it. The best athlete in California. He showed it today."
After sweeping the long jump and triple jump titles at the State Meet and leading California with high U.S.--ranked marks in both, Foster emerged as the selection for 2019 MileSplitCA Boys Field Athlete of the Year.
Foster won the long jump at the CIF-State Championships with a best of 25 feet even, aided by a 2.3 meters-per-second wind. He won by more than a foot over Kimball junior Allan Hunter, whose best of 23-09.25 was aided by an even stronger wind than was Foster's, 4.2.
Foster's season-best long jump of 25-01.50 (1.2), achieved in winning the event at the Arcadia Invitational in early April, ranks as the top jump in CA in 2019 and equals the No. 6 jump in the U.S. It also ranks U.S. No. 1 in the junior class
He was the only boy in the state in 2019 to jump at least 24 feet and he did it twice while winning the event in all nine meets during the CIF season. Post-season, he went 24-06.50 for second at the New Balance.
In the triple, Foster executed his personal-best jump of 49-09.50 (2.8) to win the State Meet title. His jump was 1 foot, 06.75 inches beyond that of runner-up DeAndra McDaniel (Selma/CS).
The interesting story about Foster's jump success is while he was a State Meet medalist in the long jump as a sophomore (placing fourth with a best of 23-07), he said he didn't get serious about the triple jump until about five weeks before the 2019 State Finals! Five weeks?
"My team needed points," he said. "They knew I could triple jump but they didn't know I would be a triple jumper.
"They said, 'OK, you're going to be a triple jumper.' I'm like, 'OK. Whatever.' I guess it just took me all the way here."
That 'whatever' became a then-state leading 49-01.25 to win the CIF-Central Section Masters title and then a 49-09.25 to win the State Meet title, two of only four meets where he competed in the event, including State Prelims.
The latter mark ranks U.S. No. 3 for all-condition jumps among returners for the 2020 season.
At the State Meet, Foster only took one attempt at both jumps at Prelims, going 23-10 (-0.5) in the long jump and 47-07.25 (1.1) in the triple.
At the Saturday Finals, he hit his winning long jump mark on his first attempt and then passed on four of his final five attempts. His triple jump series wasn't so simple, although his first jump of 49-03.25 (1.2) turned out to be enough to win the event.
Foster's triple jump series at the State Final was impressive, even more so when realizing how new he is to the event. He went 49-plus on each of his first three jumps (all wind-legal) followed by two 47s, and then his 49-09.25 to finish.
"Twenty-five. Forty-nine. He's an athlete," Scruggs said.
During an interview at State Prelims where Foster spoke about how he ended up triple jumping, it was pointed out to him that his then-49-foot PR was No. 1 in California. The reality of that brought out a huge smile.
"I'm speechless," he said. "I was just speechless. I didn't know I had it in me."
Photo credits: DeAnna Turner, Dan Tyree