ELK GROVE — With seven area vaulters in Friday’s CIF Masters finals, including Divisional champ Matt Johnson from El Dorado, chances appeared promising one or more could advance to the state finals.
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Though Johnson was there toward the end, he wasn’t there at the bitter end to grab one of three qualifting spots to the state championships.
Johnson, along with Ponderosa’s Robert Holloway, made it to the final seven from a field of 27 but both bowed out when the bar reached 14-10, effectively ending their seasons and in Johnson’s case, his prep career.
“I though I could do it and was hoping to get it but it was too tough,” Johnson said. “I’m upset … I’ve done 15-4 and was hoping to break my dad’s (school) record (15-10) but I’m out at 14-10.
“I had a great four years and have been with coaches John (Simpson) and Peanut (Harms) the whole way. I owe it to them on how far I was able to get.”
Friday’s top three were: 1-Adam Thomas, Benicia; 2-Ryan Pust, Golden Valley; 3-Jacob Bowler, Del Oro. The winning height was 15-1.
Johnson hung in on his last several vaults, clearing on his final attempt to stay in contention — prompting Harms to label him “the Heart attack kid.” He needed to pull that off again at 14-10 but couldn’t, barely missing on all three vaults.
“From the opening height (12-10) to 14 was easier for me. Mentally I was there but it became harder,” Johnson said. “Each time I was making it on my third attempt, causing me to run a lot more.”
The senior, whose contemplating returning next year to help coach at El Dorado, was among a trio of Cougars vying to reach the state finals. The three: Johnson, Sam McCrea and Cambron Lyles, had gone 1-3-4, respectively at last week’s Division meet, and were primed for more success.
McCrea, a senior, tied for ninth with a vault of 13-10. Lyles, a junior, tied for 17th with a clear of 12-10.
Holloway’s teammate, Connor Goss, tied for 13th with a height of 13-4. Both return next season.
The Oak Ridge duo of Austin Laut and Kasian Strawick also tied for 17th, both making 12-10.
In othe finals events from Friday, Golden Sierra’s Julia Patterson finished 21st with a best throw of 97-10; El Dorado long jumper Gabe Ferges sailed 20-8.5 for 21st place; Bruin shot putter Henry Sharoyan did not place; and Union Mine vaulter Leah Bertuccelli did not advance.