Central High’s Alexander has season-best in triple jump performance
Central High three-sport star Willie Alexander capped off a memorable senior year Saturday at the 94th CIF State Track and Field Championships.
Alexander popped a season-best 51-2-3/4 on his final attempt to finish third in the boys triple jump at Buchanan’s Veterans Memorial Stadium, one of 17 medal-winning performances for Central Section athletes.
Alexander this school year caught 20 passes for 287 yards and a touchdown for the Grizzlies’ co-Tri-River Athletic Conference champion football team and earned all-league honors as a defender for the school’s TRAC-winning soccer team.
“Our senior year motto was ‘going out with a bang,’ and I think I did that,” Alexander said.
Alexander entered Saturday seeded third with a preliminaries mark of 48-101/2, and with his eye on soaring 50 feet. He opened the finals with a 46-81/2 and steadily increased to 48-71/4 on his third attempt before fouling on his fourth and fifth tries.
But he put it all together on his final jump.
“I’ve been pushing myself since starting senior year in track,” said Alexander, who was slowed throughout the season by an ankle injury suffered during the soccer playoffs.
“I wanted to go 50 feet, and today was my last day to do it. So I came out here with everything I had and I went 51. I exceeded my expectations and I’m so happy about it.”
Alexander said he didn’t feel any pressure heading into his final attempt, especially considering he already had a mark that would land him on the medal podium (top six).
Tulare Western’s David Booker was ninth at 45-61/2. Claremont’s Klyvens Delunay won at 51-7.
Making the mark
For Clovis West’s Nikki Okwelongu, it was mission accomplished in the girls shot put.
The junior threw 46-71/2 on the fourth of her six attempts to finish fourth. Dos Pueblos’ Stamtia Scarvelis won in 47-31/4.
“I’ve never been so proud of fourth place in my life,” Okwelongu said.
That’s because she finally surpassed the 46-foot mark. She tossed a 46-5 early in the season at the West Coast Relays, but she fouled on the attempt. Okwelongu didn’t approach that mark again until Saturday.
“I was like ‘I’ll get it next meet,’ and it didn’t happen until today,” said Okwelongu, who earned her first state medal. “It was a long time coming. I’ve hit it in practice, but it was always 44 in meets for some reason. So I’m glad I pulled it out.”
Section athletes captured three of the six medals in the boys high jump, after placing five of the 10 finalists.
Buchanan’s Taylor Smith led the way, placing fourth by clearing 6-8. Stockdale’s Evan Eggenberg was fifth, also clearing 6-8, while Bullard’s Gyle Becker was sixth at 6-6.
After successfully appealing to get into an unusual 10-team girls 1,600 relay final, Edison’s Tia Edwards, Njeri Omawahleh, Nailah Harris-Murillo and Melese Crozier finished fourth in 3:51.44. Serra won in 3:46.45.
The Tigers — who entered with the third-fastest time in section history in 3:50.17 — had finished 18th in qualifying with a 3:59.22 after Crozier was tripped by a Long Beach Poly runner attempting to pass. Edison was leading the race when Crozier went down.
By Nick Giannandrea