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In the fast lane

Brian Hamilton

SACRAMENTO – Despite her lean into the finish line, Nicole Jackson thought she’d been edged out of the final qualifying spot for the California State Championships.

She headed down the infield at Sacramento City College’s Hughes Stadium in disappointment, sure that she had run her final 100 hurdles race of her high school track and field career at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Meet.

But upon further review – and after Bear River senior teammate Rachel Welz had run her down – Jackson discovered that she had held off Lodi sophomore Kayla Carter by eight-tenths of a second to clinch third place and a berth into next week’s state meet.

“I didn’t know,” said a somewhat surprised Jackson, after returning to the finish line for the awards ceremony. “I thought the girl in lane two beat me. So, I was walking away, kind of sad. But I guess I was third.

“It feels so good. I’ve wanted this since forever. It feels really good.”

Making next week’s return trip to Sac City College even sweeter will be the fact that she’ll be joined by Welz, with whom she’s trained and competed since the two met in middle school. Welz qualified in both the high jump and long jump on Thursday. She also qualified for the finals in the 100 and 300 hurdles.

After sitting down for an interview, the two shared a high five and the words “Team Domination.”

“Since the eighth grade when she moved here,” Welz said, recalling how long the Bear River duo have been hitting the track together. “She was the lonely girl … doing the hurdles all by herself.”

“I was so lonely,” Jackson added. “Then Rachel came along.”

A year ago, both girls left the Masters with a bad taste in their mouths. Jackson took a tumble in the 300 hurdles and Welz failed to meet the state-qualifiying height of 5 feet, 4 inches in the high jump – a height she had consistently cleared throughout the season. Although neither of the Bruins said they expected to qualify for the state meet, Welz said last year’s humbling experience helped her know what she needed to do to get there.

“I knew what I had to do,” she said, “but that’s not the same thing as expecting it.”

Jackson’s time of 15.18 seconds in the 100 hurdles broke her own school record, which she set in last week’s Division III meet. In Thursday’s preliminaries, she had the second-fastest qualifying time of 15.30. Florin junior Tenise Brewer won the event in 14.64. Stephanie Gray, a senior from Sheldon, was second in 14.93. Welz was seventh overall in the event with a personal-best time of 15.63.

Jackson and Welz also shared the track in the finals of the 300 hurdles. Jackson finished sixth in 45.97, while Welz was ninth in 47.23. Central Valley junior Latrisha Jordan took the section title in the event with a time of 44.64.

A trio of Nevada Union Miners were also in competition Friday, including a pair of triple jumpers. Sophomore Cole Stanford recorded a leap of 43 feet, 4 1/2 inches to take 10th place in the section meet. NU senior Domenic Ruggiero jumped 41-9 3/4 to finish 17th in the section. Ray Green, a senior from Ceres, claimed the triple jump championship with a leap of 49-0 1/2.

After turning in the second-fastest time in Thursday’s preliminaries of the 300 hurdles, NU junior Chase Dixon returned to Hughes Stadium for Friday’s finals. Dixon didn’t eclipse his personal-best time of 39.01 recorded on Thursday, but finished seventh in the section with a time of 39.63. Avery White, a Sierra High junior, took first place in 38.10

Next week’s state meet will be held Friday and Saturday at Hughes Stadium. Field events are scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. Friday, followed by track events at 5 p.m.


Contact Sports Editor Brian Hamilton via e-mail at brianh@theunion.com or by phone at 477-4240.


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