By RICK SMITH
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
CLOVIS — “I let the pain take over me,” said Piner High’s Luis Luna after finishing fifth to earn a medal in the boys’ 3200-meter run at the 94th California Interscholastic Federation track and field championships at Buchanan High Saturday night.
Santa Rosa sophomore Morgan Bertsch also captured state honors, finishing sixth to earn a medal in the high jump.
Luna finished his specialty in in 9 minutes, 8.82 seconds and was one of four Empire athletes who began competing in the late afternoon sun amid gusty winds and finished on a cool, evening several hours later.
Maria Carrillo’s Kathleen Durand was one of the meet’s first competitors, leading off the discus throw. She was followed by Bertsch in the high jump, and Luna and Sonoma Valley’s Alex Conner in the boys’ 3200.
Luna said he was disappointed because he did not come near his personal best of 8:55.
“I was trying to catch up and hold on, but I let the leaders get away from me. The pain took over me.”
The Piner star who’d predicted during the North Coast Section Redwood Empire meet that five runners had a chance to win the 3200 title said, “Sometimes, the time is more important than the place” after falling more than 13 seconds shy of his personal best.
La Costa’s Darren Fahy, a senior, won the 3,200 in 9:03.29. Danny Martinez, of St. John’s Bosco, was second in 9:05.74, just edging Palos Verdes runner Jonah Diaz (9:05.79). Daniel De La Torre, from Pasadena-La Salle, was fourth in 9:06.60.
Luna held off Milpitas’ Yohaness Estifanos, a junior, who finished in 9:09.12.
Bertsch actually tied for sixth with Ventura Buena’s Erin Beattie in the girls’ high jump and tied her personal best jump of 5 feet, 5 inches. She had no misses until going out at 5-7.
“It was great to experience this,” said the tall sophomore. “It was exceptionally windy today, but I got through it. I’ll be ready for all this next year. It’ll be more normal.”
Claire Kieffer-Wright, a sophomore from South Pasadena, won with a jump of 5-10. El Diamante’s Katie Reeves, a junior, was second at 5-9¼. El Camino senior Danielle Bryan jumped 5-7 to tie Bakersfield Christian’s senior Sarah Hill for fourth. Alex Forent, a freshman from Harvard Westlake, leaped 5-7 to finish fifth by herself.
Durand threw the discus 133 feet, 1 inch into the wind for a personal best on her sixth and final throw. The throw was the fourth-best in Empire history.
With coaches, family and supporters looking on, the diminutive Durand was ninth, but she battled group of bigger opponents, some who were 50-60 pounds heavier.
“I have been throwing in the 140s in practice,” said Durand, who posted the best finish at sate by an Empire girl discus thrower. “The ring was very slick (creating traction problems during the spin), but I feel pretty good. I’m practicing about two hours a day and I’ll be back and ready for it next year.”
Redwood senior Lissette Mendivil won the discus with a heave of 155-10. Arroyo Grande’s Madison Jacobs, a junior, was second at 155-9.
Vallejo senior Lovina Akauola threw 143 feet to claim fourth place.
Sonoma’s Conner was 20th in the boys’ 3200.
“I wanted to beat my seed (23rd) and I did, but it’s bittersweet,” said Conner.
The long jump by Casa Grande’s Brycen Poarch in Friday’s trials was incorrectly reported at 22-9 ½. Poarch jumped 21-11 for 22nd place.