By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor
Making the CIF state track and field meet is an accomplishment anyone should be proud of.
For the nine Palisades High athletes competing in last Friday’s preliminaries, however, the icing on the cake would be to qualify for Saturday’s finals.
For sprinter Makhai Husband, distance runner Hunter Parker and both of the Dolphins’ 4×400 relay teams, going head-to-head with the best in California was the thrill of a lifetime.
Start times were pushed back because of excessive heat at Buchanan High in Clovis, but it was still almost 100 degrees when qualifying began Friday evening.
Entered in the 400, 200 and the 4×400 relay, Husband knew it would be a long day at the office.
In the 400-meter dash, Husband finished seventh in Heat 2 in 49.79 seconds – a time he called “average” for him. He was 20th overall out of 27 runners. The top nine advanced to Saturday’s final, which was won by state leader Michael Norman of Vista Murrieta, who clocked 45.77.
After being disqualifed for a false start in the 200, Husband ran the opening leg on the 4×400 relay, which was third in its heat in 3:20.85 – a personal-best effort by about two and a half seconds. Doug McGhee ran the second leg, Raynard Beckham ran the third and Rayne Camden ran the anchor leg as the Dolphins placed 11th, just missing the finals.
“The first two events definitely tired me out and I even got sick after the 400,” Husband said. “We had to hydrate more than usual, but the heat wasn’t as bad as it would’ve been earlier in the day.”
“We treated it like just another race,” McGhee said. “We never want to underestimate ourselves. If I couldn’t pick up the lead [on my leg] I at least wanted to maintain our position.”
Palisades’ previous-best was 3:22.44 at the Mt. SAC Invitational in April.
The girls’ 4×400 relay, consisting of Queen Okoh, Kayla Williams, Kendal Lake and Ejiro Agege, was seventh in its heat but clocked 3:55.65 to shave seven seconds off its previous-best effort. All four members also ran personal-best times.
“We’re used to it being cold and windy so the heat made us go faster,” said freshman Kayla Williams, who ran the second leg. “Being here shows us the standard we need to reach.”
“Coach tells us on the last 100 to swing our arms and as long as we run our race we can live with the result,” Agege added.
In the 800-meter race, junior Hunter Parker ran a personal-best 1:57.10 for eighth place in his heat.
“We had a full pack until the last 200 [meters],” Parker said. “That second lap was very intense. It’s the third week in a row I’ve PRd, so I’m happy about that.”
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