NO GOLDEN FINISH AT CALIFORNIA STATE MEET
May 31, 2023
CLOVIS: The California State Championships of track and field are held annually at Buchanan High School in Clovis and the meet draws only the best of the best. There are no divisional breakdowns of talent; you’re either one of the best in the State in your event or you’re not in Clovis over Memorial Day weekend. Pretty simple.
Having made it through the gauntlet of CIF Southern Section Prelims, Finals and Masters over the month of May, three of King’s best, Sarah Ajayi, Alyssa Hope and Jaden McKee, returned to the elite meet east of Fresno.
With a 2022 State meet experience in their resumes, here in ’23 each one found the same grouping of talent and the same pristine stadium to compete in. After putting together phenomenal seasons to get there, each one came with hopes to finish in the gold, literally or figuratively.
For all three however, it wasn’t to be as they competed well but found the competition just a little better. Sarah Ajayi raced the 100 hurdles on Friday night and finished with a Personal Record of 14.38, but agonizingly was just out of qualifying for Saturday’s Final. She was 10th by .08 of a second and only 9 went on. She’d have to solace herself on the improvement she made over the year and with the thought of knowing she was in the top 10 of the entire state in the 100 hurdles.
Jaden McKee moved on from prelims to finals but struggled mightily on Saturday, clearing 14’ 8" for 9th place. A junior and with a PR of 16’, he can rightly plan to be back in Clovis in ’24.
Alyssa Hope returned in the long jump, an event which she took second in last season. It looked promising for the USC-bound Senior as she landed Friday night with a leap of 20’ 4.25", a fraction beyond her personal and school best of 20’ 4".
But in the Final on Saturday, she was sitting in 2nd (by a mere inch) after two of the six allotted attempts. Evental winner Cydney Vanek then exploded for a 20’ 7.75" leap on the 4th attempt and at the very end Meagan Humphries of Castaic put out her best-ever leap and landed two inches beyond Alyssa’s best on the day and nudged the King senior to third place.
Second year Head Coach Mat Vasel had it all in perspective, saying, “it was a special weekend, that’s for sure. Any time you get to the state meet it’s special. I was talking with Jaden and Sarah about just how hard it is. I wanted them to recognize how impressive their accomplishments were. Although we may have not of finished as high as we wanted, I’m still very proud of our group and how hard they have worked all year.”
Golden finishes are never promised, but golden effort is expected and that is just what these three, and countless other King athletes did all season long.