CIF State Track and Field notebook: Sierra Pacific's Eric Loomis chooses discus over graduation ceremony (video)

The Fresno BeeJune 6, 2014 

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Sierra Pacific High's second graduating class received diplomas Friday night.

Eric Loomis, however, skipped the ceremony.

It's not that Loomis didn't care, he's just more focused on becoming the first track and field state medalist in the Hanford school's five-year history.

"Graduation is just a ceremony," he said. "I think I can get far in the discus."

Loomis was fourth in qualifying with a top throw of 179 feet, 6 inches on the first day of the CIF State Championships at Buchanan's Veterans Memorial Stadium.

A double dose of Kings County stars in the discus final failed to materialize when Kings Christian's Nicholas Hudson, seeded at 178-4, finished 20th out of 24 competitors at 155-4. Only the top 12 advanced.

Mater Dei-Santa Ana's Malik McMorris led at 190-8. Loomis, whose best throw came on his first attempt, likely would have at least equaled that on his second throw, but he fouled. Loomis went 158-6 on his final heave.

"I'm going to try not to dwell on that," said Loomis, whose personal record is 183-10. "The best thing to do is move on from it."

Loomis said his ultimate goal would be to uncork a throw of 200 feet, but he would be happy to get into the 190 range for the first time.

"I feel confident," he said, "I think I can PR and take first. My motto is first and nothing less. As long as I go 100%, I feel I can do it."

Running against the state's top competition, meanwhile, brought out the best in Tulare Western's Joe Herrera.

The UCLA recruit clocked a personal-record 47.33 seconds in the 400, the ninth-best time in Central Section history.

"I was hoping to PR, so that's no surprise," said Herrera, eighth in 47.99 at the state meet last season. "I felt good throughout the whole race, nice and relaxed and at the end I tried to push all the way through."

Herrera's placing — first among the 24 entrants — was surprising.

"I was shocked," Herrera said. "I was just hoping for top nine and get to tomorrow."

Now Herrera, who entered with the ninth-best time in the state this season with a 47.48, will be in lane 5, poised as the runner to beat in today's finals.

"I'm just going to try and run my own race and whatever happens, happens," he said.

Foster takes leap, may need more

A laser-calibration error voided the actual marks but not the qualifying order for the girls long jump.

Rhesa Foster's best preliminary mark — a wind-aided 20-2½ feet — would have won silver last year, an improvement from where the Clovis North standout finished as a freshman, her 19-8½ good for bronze.

This year, however, with the wind blowing down the runway at Veterans Memorial Stadium, Foster's personal-record was only good for fourth in a field of 24. Five turned in top leaps that originally were listed at topping 20 feet, with Harvard Westlake-Studio City's Courtney Corrin leading at 20-10¼. But the marks were believed to be about 11 inches too long.

Regardless, Foster has some work to do.

Foster was recorded at 18-3½ on her first attempt, then scratched on her second. So she needed a big jump on her third to guarantee a spot among the top 12 advancing to Saturday's finals.

She admitted she was nervous about scratching again on her third attempt, when she says she typically ramps up her effort. So she moved her start back a little and ended up launching a couple of inches behind the foul line.

"And I came down early, so I've got more in me," Foster said. "I think I can get top three. That's what I'm looking for. But I know there's a lot of tough competition. I don't expect it to come easy."

Foster was a nonqualifying 12th in the 100 in 11.94.

Groom clears top pole vault mark

Clovis West's Trevor Groom was one of 10 to clear the top mark of 15-9 in the pole vault.

That Groom qualified for the final should come as no surprise considering his coach and grandfather is Bob Fraley, the former Fresno State coach and torchbearer for vaulting around the Valley and across the nation.

"It's tremendous to have him as my coach and my grandpa," Groom said. "He's helped me tremendously. I've been around pole vault my whole life. The way (Fraley) gets pumped up for it, I feel the same way. It's a great sport."

Groom, a junior, has his sights set on surpassing his personal record of 16-0.

"I'm really happy clearing 15-9," Groom said. "I'm hoping to move up a couple places in the finals and hopefully get top three."

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6103, or @NickG_FB on Twitter.

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