102nd CIF-STATE TRACK AND FIELD CHAMPIONSHIPS
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One in a series of event-group recaps from Friday's Prelims from the CIF-State Meet at Buchanan HS in Clovis
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CLOVIS -- One thing is certain about the hurdles -- nothing is certain.
All it takes is a false start, a missed step, or worst of all, a disqualification, and even the best in the world can be disqualified.
OK, Scripps Ranch (SD) senior Aaliyah McCormick isn't the best in the world -- yet -- but she was No. 1 in California in the 100-meter hurdles and admitted hoping to approach 13-seconds flat at the State Championships in Veterans Memorial Stadium.
However, the University of Oregon-bound senior, who had run a wind-aided 13.46 to go with a 13.61 legal, tangled with Arroyo Grande (CS) senior Daniela Ruelas over the second hurdle. McCormick still finished well enough to qualify second at 14.15.
However, she was disqualified, despite protestations from her and her coach, Kadrina Coffee.
"The girl in lane six ran into my lane," said McCormick, who came back to win her heat of the 100-meter dash in 11.77, advancing to Saturday's championships. "It threw me off."
The officials disagreed.
That opened the door for San Diego High senior Charlize James, who has been running in the shadow of McCormick all season, to make a major statement of her own, winning her heat in a PR 13.67 -- a full .33 seconds ahead of Upland (SS) sophomore London Davis and Stockton Lincoln (SJ) junior Y'Vette Harris -- both of whom ran 14.00.
James is still the only other runner besides McCormick to break 14-seconds, having previously run 13.92.
"I hit my goal (with the 13.67) and I'm super excited," she said.
James was also part of a three-heat sweep by the San Diego Section in the 300-meter hurdles where Torrey Pines junior Karina Janik posted a time of 42.77, winning her heat. Cathedral Catholic's Kapiolani Coleman won the second of three races in 42.93 and James won her heat in 43.35. Janik's twin sister Dominika Janik, also qualified eighth in 43.85.
Harris will be the major challenger from outside the San Diego Section with her 43.29 behind Coleman, who is the state leader with her 42.19 run at Arcadia.
Kai Graves-Blanks and his Upland High teammates are hoping to make a lot of noise in the championships after turning a bundle of heads in the prelims.
Graves-Blanks posted the top qualifying time in the 110-meter high hurdles in 13.69, well ahead of teammate DeQuan January's 14.01. Right behind January was Upland junior Davis Davis-Lyric who had the third-fastest qualifying time in 14.05.
San Jose Independence (CC) junior Ben Kin Ho Tsang broke up the Highlanders by winning the third heat in 14.36, which actually allowed Leland (CC) junior Miles Roberts to post the fifth-fastest time (14.23) finishing second to Graves-Blanks in the first heat.
A fresh Isaac Lewis of Long Beach Wilson clocked a 37.57 for the quickest 300-meter hurdle time, less than a tenth ahead of Graves-Blanks, who won his heat in 37.65. Upland's Delaney Crawford won the other heat in 38.13.
Rounding out six Upland runners in two races, Davis-Lyric also advanced in the 300s with his 39.11, finishing third behind Lewis.
Graves-Blanks not only was the best hurdler, but he's also hoping he's just as good at foreseeing the finals results.
"Get out the broom," he predicted, "we're (Upland) going to sweep the highs."
Steve Brand is a freelance writer and a regular contributor to MileSplit.
Photos by DeAnna Turner and Daniel Hernandez