RECAP Clearing Barriers Easy-Peasy for these State Finalists

CLOVIS -- Most events in a state track meet require speed or strength.

But two -- hurdles and the pole vault -- toss another element into the mix, making the athletes clear either solid barriers or plastic bars.

And, with athletes like seniors Davis Davis-Lyric of Upland (SS) and Y'vette Harris of Lincoln-Stockton (SJ), those athletes make going over the barriers look easy-peasy.

In the 103rd California State Track and Field Championship preliminaries Friday at Buchanan High's Veterans Memorial Stadium, there was no shortage of quality performances.

Davis-Lyric appears poised to become the next great Upland champion in at least the 110-meter hurdles and maybe a two-time champion if he can come back in the 300-meter event.

Harris, as she has all season, again proved the top qualifier in the short hurdles before winning her heat in the longer event.

"I wanted to run 13 something and qualify," said Lyric-Davis after winning his heat in the 110s in the fastest time of the day, 13.95 -- which is just a blink off his state-leading time of 13.85. "I'll be fine if I can run 13.5 anything in the finals.

"I've been training for this meet since last year (when he finished second to teammate Kai Graves-Blanks, who moved to Florida). There was no tension for me at the starting line, but I'm usually calm before my races.

"I just try to do my best and I definitely don't try to overthink the race. I just try to run fast."

Of course, there is no shortage of competitors who would like to run just like him including Santa Ana Mater Dei's Logan Lyght (14.05) and Pleasant Grove's Stephen Dahdouh (14.14 with a 2.6-meter-per-second aiding wind), who won the other two heats. Add Leland's Miles Roberts (14.18) and Thousand Oaks' Jeremy Frank (14.23) to the list of impressive performances.

Although Davis-Lyric (38.35) came back to win his heat of the 300-meter hurdles in 38.10, it was up to Long Beach Jordan's Darryll Stevens (37.75) and Monrovia's Devin Paton (37.96) to lead the way. Eastvale Roosevelt's Cayden Roberson (37.97) was a photo behind Stevens, making for a potential Southern Section rematch with the other heat winner, Thousand Oaks' Pyrce Edwards  (38.10) in the mix.

Although they don't appear to be in the gold medal mix, the San Diego trio of Cathedral Catholic's Vincent Atilano (3.18), Helix's Shon Martin (38.18 also) and Del Norte's Danny Tragarz (38.28) certainly should push the others.

As for Harris, she won her 18th straight 100-meter hurdles race after being beaten by a pair of out-of-state runners at Arcadia.

The second-place finisher in this event last year behind San Diego High's Charlize James (now at San Diego State), Harris is determined to move up one spot. But she'd actually feel better if she could win the 300 hurdles where she won her heat in 43.07 but had only the fourth-fastest overall time behind Christian Brothers' Keilee Hall, the state leader at 42.02, who ran 42.26 Friday, Long Beach Wilson's Kaylin Edwards (42.32), and San Diego sophomore Anisa Bowen-Fontenot (42.55).

As it turns out, Bowen-Fontenot and St. Mary's Kori Fields both ran 13.97 behind Harris' 13.73 in the shorter race.

"I actually like the 300-meter hurdles better," said Harris. "In the 300s you have more space between the hurdles and you know what's coming. In the 100s you take three steps and just go. I've dreamed of winning the state title since last year and even finishing second would hurt.

"I'm hoping for a 13.43 or even a 13.53-anything better than my best of 14.83. I really hope I get pushed to that time."

Bowen-Fontenot, who has run 13.92, can hardly wait for the shorter race.

"I admit I was nervous before this race," said the 10th-grader.  "I hope to pull out something in the finals I've never done before. I know I'll get pushed-it'll be fun."

As for the pole vaulters, that went pretty much as expected.

For the boys, state leader Hilton Green (17-1) was one of 11 qualifiers at 15-feet and figures to have a large contingent behind him in today's championships.

Green actually had a miss at 15 after passing the opening height of 14-6 but the crowd didn't need to worry as he soared over on his second attempt.

Turlock's Max McFarlane, who has a best of 16-5, actually was the most impressive, barely breaking a sweat by passing 14-6 and clearing 15 on his first try. Redondo's Dylan Curtis, like Green, missed once at 15-0 but will put his best of 16-6 from last week's Southern Section Masters meet on display Saturday.

For the girls, state leader Iliana Downing of La Costa Canyon saw fellow San Diego Section vaulter Paige Echsner, a sophomore from Del Norte, match her by clearing 11-9, 12-3 and 12-7 without a miss. Downing has gone 14-feet this season.

Echsner is actually better known as a member of the Nighthawks' 4x800 relay team which is ranked second in the state. She has gone 12-9 to go with a 2:12.36 in the 800 -- a unique double.

Buchanan senior Jordan Leveque (13-6) and Poway's Avery Hilliard (13-3) also qualified. Only Vista Murrieta junior Aspen Fears (13-4) among the 13-footers coming in, failed to qualify as she struggled at the opening height of 11-9.


Steve Brand is a freelance writer and a regular contributor to MileSplit

Photos by DeAnna Turner and Daniel Hernandez