Katie Fry put herself among the Central Section's best-ever girls' 800-meter runners Friday during the preliminaries of the CIF State Track and Field Championships.
Next on Fry's to-do list is earning a spot among California's elite when the two-day meet resumes today at Buchanan's Veterans Memorial Stadium.
The Exeter High senior placed second in her heat and second overall in the 32-runner field in 2:10.64 – the fourth-best time in section history. Fry is one of 24 individual-event qualifiers from the section for today's finals, which start at 4:30 p.m.
"I want a medal," Fry said. "I want to stand on that podium. I don't care what place it is."
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Fry held the lead through much of her heat race before getting caught down the stretch by Sydney Gray of Beverly Hills, who clocked a preliminaries-best 2:10.51. Fry finished 2 seconds faster than her previous best, and behind only the marks of North's Linda Goen (2:05.43) in 1977, Central's Kristie Johnston (2:08.64) in 1994 and Mission Prep's Jordan Hasay (2:09.64) in 2009 in section history.
"I'm really shocked," Fry said. "I wasn't sure I could pull that off."
No other runners besides Gray and Fry broke the 2:10 mark, giving Fry confidence she can earn her first medal in four trips to the state meet. She reached the finals once before as a sophomore, but placed ninth.
"In such a high competition race, I think I can give more," Fry said. "Even though it will be hard."
Fry credited coach Isaac Gonzales and training partner Christian Gonzales for helping her pop a career-best performance.
The UC Davis-bound Fry said she spent the early part of the season working on distance running and has focused in the latter part on speed.
"It's really working well," Fry said.
Redwood's Root leaps on
Redwood's Dillon Root kept his hopes alive for a second straight state long jump medal, placing fourth in qualifying with a leap of 23-11/2.
El Camino-Oceanside's Jacob Snow set the pace at 23-41/4, well behind his season-best of 24-1 and quite a ways behind the state's best qualifying mark this season of 24-8 by Serra-Gardena's Marquise Lee.
"None of us were really jumping that far," said Root, a four-time state qualifier who placed sixth in the long jump last year. "But I'm happy to make it to the second day. I have a feeling everyone will be on their 'A' game tomorrow. You could tell everyone was saving it."
Root, a Fresno State football recruit, will have the long jump to focus on today after placing a non-qualifying 18th (10.94) in the 100.
"It sucks to only make it in one event, but it's probably better for me," said Root, who will attempt to break BB Malone's school record of 24-4 today. "I feel like I've got a 24 in me."
Section shines in discus
A year after section boys dominated the discus, capturing four of the top-five places behind champion Willy Irwin of Clovis East, the nine-competitor girls' discus finals features four throwers from the section.
Stockdale's Alex Collatz leads with a 164-2 in qualifying, fourth best in the nation this year. Also representing the section are Clovis West sisters Nonny and Nikki Okwelogu (throws of 144-02 and 144-0, respectively) and Redwood's Lissette Mendivil (141-0).
"It's nice to have such talented throwers in this area," said Princeton-bound Nonny Okwelogu. "They push you, but you also get to know them and make friends."
Not his day
Central's L.J. Moore entered tied for the state's fourth-best high jump mark at 6-7, but failed to reach the finals after topping out at 6-3. Six jumpers qualified with marks of 6-5 and five more advanced with clearances of 6-7.
"I just didn't have any lift today," said Moore, a sophomore making his first state meet appearance. "I need to warm up more between jumps."
Other narrow misses on qualifying included Buchanan's Macy Bricks in the girls' 1,600, El Diamante's Payden Law in the boys' 110 hurdles and 300 hurdles, and Central's Willie Alexander in the boys' long jump. Alexander did qualify in the triple jump (seventh in 47-11/2) and Bricks is part of the field for today's 3,200 finals, which did not have a preliminaries race.
Other section highlights
Boys pole vaulters: Brad Beekman of Clovis East, Scott Greenman of Clovis and Kyle Fraley of Lemoore all advanced to finals.
Girls discuss throwers: Led by No. 1 Alex Collatz of Stockdale, Nonny Okwelogu of Clovis West, Nikki Okwelogu of Clovis West and Lissette Mendivil of Redwood all move on.
Alyssa Monteverde, Clovis West: Qualifies No. 2 in the girls 300 low hurdles
B.J. Kelley, Central: Reaches 200 final.