SACRAMENTO – Plot the path Rachel Welz plodded through at Thursday afternoon’s Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Meet and it’s likely she logged more meters running back and forth between competitions than in the actual events in which she competed.
She criss-crossed the stadium’s infield several times, clearing a height in the high jump, launching leaps in the long jump and also running the 100-meter hurdles. By the time her hectic schedule in the first two hours of the meet had passed, the Bear River senior was beat.
But not beaten.
Welz qualified for the finals in all four events she entered Thursday at Sacramento City College’s Hughes Stadium. And in two of those events, she qualified to compete in next week’s California State Championships, also to be held at Hughes Stadium.
“My goal was to qualify for the finals in all four events,” said a weary Welz, moments after she plopped down on the infield grass for a quick breather before the 300 hurdles preliminaries. “After I cleared 5-4 (in the high jump) I picked up a lot of adrenaline. Then I went and did the long jump and then the hurdles and then back to the high jump. Now, I’m tired.”
Clearing the bar set at 5 feet, 6 inches, Welz tied for first place in the high jump with Susan Jackson (Napa) and Veronica Stimson (Bella Vista) and qualified for the state meet.
By finishing third in the long jump with a new school record leap of 17 feet, 11 inches – behind meet champ Amber Purvis (Benecia) who jumped 18-9 and second place Deja Edwards (Whitney) – Welz secured a state berth in two events. Her jump broke her own Bear River record of 17 feet 6 1/2 inches set last year.
Welz, who plans to compete in the heptathlon next year as a freshman at Sacramento State, also qualified for today’s finals in the 100 and 300 hurdles, in which she qualified with the eighth and ninth fastest times, respectively. Though she’ll have seven events in which to compete in college, she said the pace will be more conducive to producing her best performances in each event.
“Next year will actually be a lot better,” Welz said. “Everybody will be doing (all the events) and we’ll have more space between events. This is everything at one time.”
Welz will be joined at today by senior teammate Nicole Jackson and Nevada Union junior Chase Dixon, after both qualified for the finals in their respective events. Also competing today will be NU triple jumpers Dominic Ruggiero and Cole Stanford. Field events start at 3 p.m., with the track finals set to start at 5 p.m.
Jackson, also a Bear River senior, qualified for the finals in two events. She won her heat in the 100-meter hurdles and clocked the second-fastest qualifying time in 15.30 seconds. Only Florin junior Tenise Brewer was faster Thursday, winning the third heat in 14.93 seconds.
“I felt good,” Jackson said. “I just wanted to make sure I moved on to (the finals). (Today) is the big day. I’m hoping I can place in the top three. I’m hoping once again that the competition will help bring my times even lower.”
The top three finishers in each event automatically qualify for the state finals meet.
Her time in the 300-meter hurdles (46.02) was the seventh-fastest in the preliminaries. As will be the case in the 100 hurdles, she’ll be joined in the finals by Welz, who ran a 47.03 to secure the ninth and final qualifying spot in the 300 hurdles. Latrisha Jordan (Central Valley), who ran the same heat as Jackson, clocked the fastest qualifying time with a 44.62.
Dixon’s day didn’t get off to the best of starts. After stumbling through the 110 high hurdles, he was clearly dejected about his performance.
“At the start, I slipped out of the blocks and I couldn’t gain my composure again,” he said while still catching his breath after the race. “I hit a couple of hurdles and actually came to a stop and jogged through the finish.
“These guys are good. I’m there, but I’m just not quite there. Though by next year, with a good offseason, I’ll be right there with them and maybe even better.”
He didn’t have to wait another year to redeem himself, however. In the 300 hurdles, he broke from the pack after the final turn and blazed out front to win his heat in 39.01 seconds, which was the second-fastest qualifying time for today’s finals.
“After the turn, I felt them pushing up on me,” Dixon said, wearing a wide smile after clocking his personal-best time. “Then I just got this extra strength that powered my legs the last couple of hundreds. I’m really happy with my time.”
To contact Sports Editor Brian Hamilton, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4240.
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