Masaada Johnson had a busy weekend — qualifying in four events, but her best efforts weren’t quite good enough to earn a medal.
Jackson Tillapaugh, grimacing through a blistered finger, had his best performance in the past couple weeks but couldn’t match his season-best in the boys discus that would have placed him in the final round of nine competitors — eventually finishing 14th in a field of 24.
Katie Ames, making her first appearance at the state track and field finals, showed steady improvement throughout the season and finished 18th among 23 competitors in the girls triple jump.
Those three Wickenburg High School seniors were the lone representatives of the school at the Division III state high school track and field championships at Mesa Community College last weekend.
Johnson and Tillapaugh qualified for the state finals for the second consecutive year, while Ames made her debut at the season finale.
“We competed well and had some close misses,” noted Wrangler Coach Doug Clementz of his threesome, “but overall, Coach (Ronn) Tillapaugh and I felt we did well."
Johnson, who finished eighth in the state finals’ girls 100 meter dash last year, posted her best-ever time of 12.98 seconds in the preliminary round of that same event Friday afternoon — placing third in the second of three heats. However, that personal-best effort left her in 11th place — two spots away from advancing to the event’s final round of nine sprinters on Saturday.
Earlier on Friday, she had a misstep in the girls’ long jump that kept her out of the final round of nine — ending up in 11th place with a distance of 15 feet and 11.75 inches (short of her qualifying best effort of 16-7 that would have placed her fifth in the competition).
“Jumping off the wrong foot, ‘Flash' missed the long jump finals by an inch and a quarter,” explained Coach Clementz.
She came back Saturday to compete in the girls high jump and triple jump, but there were also challenges in those two events. With both events scheduled simultaneously at opposite ends of the field, she ended up bowing out of the high jump in order to concentrate on her better chances of earning a medal in the triple jump.
She was sitting in third place after the preliminary rounds of the triple jump but slipped to sixth due to better efforts by the other competitors in the final round. Her official distance of 34 feet, 3.5 inches was five inches shy of putting her on the awards podium.
“Masaada produced a monster jump but was well in front of the (launching) board,” noted Coach Clementz, pointing out the inches she gave up by not nailing the launch point. “Those are the breaks, but we were pleased with the results.”
Tillapaugh had qualified for the state finals last year in the shot put but this year made it to the championships in the discus.
However, even his best mark of the season of 134 feet and 1 inch wouldn’t have been good enough to advance to the final round of nine — putting him in the 10th spot. He wasn’t able to match his season best (finishing with a distance of 126-4) and had to settle for 14th place.
“Jackson had his best throw in over two weeks (overcoming the blistered release finger), but it was not good enough,” Coach Clementz reported.
The veteran coach said Ames “came a long way in just one season” — qualifying for the state championships in her first year of track competition and placing 18th among 23 girls in the triple jump.
Her preliminary round mark of 30 feet and 11.5 inches didn’t match her season best of 32-0, which would have placed her 13th. But she still finished among the top 20 in Division III in her “rookie” year.