SACRAMENTO - Alicia Follmar was in fourth place after three laps and looked to be fading slowly. But one person watching the race at Hughes Stadium believed the Saratoga junior was in great position to repeat as the state's 1600-meter champion.
``I felt totally confident,'' said Peter Jordan, Saratoga's distance coach. ``She was in control. That's exactly the way we scripted it.''
Almost on cue, Follmar made her move and ran a dynamite final 200 meters to win her second consecutive state title in a personal-best 4 minutes, 46.47 seconds, Saturday at Sacramento City College. Follmar and Los Altos senior Allie Miller (high jump) were the Central Coast Section's only state champions as seven girls from the CCS won medals.
Follmar's race was one of the day's best, in part because of her come-from-behind effort that began on the backstretch. As the leaders rounded the final turn, Follmar was running alongside Lauren Mulkey of Woodcreek and Lindsay Allen of College Park for about 20 meters.
With about 50 meters to go, Follmar pulled ahead and crossed the finish in under 4:50 for the first time.
``That was definitely how I wanted to run,'' Follmar said. ``This feels pretty good. I didn't even know what I had left. I'm just really happy with my time.''
Jordan said the third lap was crucial for Follmar, figuring Allen would try to get enough separation to hold off Follmar's kick. Allen was edged by Follmar last year but finished fifth after falling with about 20 meters to go.
``I had to stay with them,'' Follmar said. ``I didn't feel good doing it.''
Follmar also continued a tradition of CCS athletes dominating the 1,600 -- the section's runners have placed first five of the past six years.
Follmar wasn't the only middle-distance runner from the CCS turning in a solid performance. Menlo's Libby Jenke placed second in the 800 with a personal-best 2:10.97 after being passed by the state leader, Canyon's Alysia Johnson, in the homestretch.
Jenke and Archbishop Mitty's Christine Whalen -- who entered with the No. 3 and 2 times in the state -- were 1-2 after the first 400 meters. They were still running with the leaders before Johnson stormed past to win in 2:08.97, the sixth-best time in the nation. Live Oak sophomore Christine Jones won her second medal in a row by placing fourth, and Whalen finished eighth.
``I was hoping to go sub-2:10, but I PR'd, and I'm really happy about that,'' Jenke said. ``I didn't know she had that kind of kick.''
St. Francis sophomore Taylor Franklin walked away with fourth place in the pole vault.
Franklin, whose season-best mark was 12 feet, was one of five athletes who cleared 11-5 3/4. Because she did it on her second of three attempts, Franklin finished in a three-way tie for fourth. Because Del Mar senior Stevie Odle cleared that height on her third attempt, she finished tied for seventh.
Mt. Pleasant junior Galina Becker, who medaled in two events last year, placed fifth in the triple jump (38-11) and finished ninth in the long jump.
SACRAMENTO - Allie Miller set her goal while having lunch with Lynbrook track coach Darrin Garcia after the junior nationals at Stanford last year. Garcia, who specializes in the high jump, told Miller she had the potential to become a state champion.
``The one thing we left that meeting with was the belief she could win,'' Garcia said.
Miller fulfilled her dream by placing first in the high jump Saturday at the 86th annual state track and field championships at Sacramento City College. The Los Altos senior matched her personal best with a jump of 5 feet, 9 1/4 inches, one of two athletes from the Central Coast Section to medal in the event. Branham sophomore Amber Kaufman placed fourth by clearing 5-8.
``I was shaking at the podium. I'm a state champion. It's a dream come true,'' said Miller, who plans to compete in the heptathlon at UCLA. ``It's everything I've worked for.''
Miller, who won three individual titles at the CCS finals May 28, has come full circle since undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus in each knee last fall. Miller said the injuries really didn't hamper her training.
``She's gone through so much with the surgeries,'' Garcia said. ``We kept telling her to believe. She was a champion when she needed to be.''
Because Los Altos doesn't have a high-jump coach, Miller began working with Garcia two years ago. Miller saw her marks slowly improve until she won the CCS title as a junior.
But she did not get past the qualifying round at the state meet. A few weeks later, Miller and Garcia began looking toward the 2004 state meet.
``Darrin was always the first one whispering in my ear about becoming a state champion,'' Miller said. ``He was the one pushing me.''
Miller and Kaufman were among four jumpers who cleared 5-8. Once the bar moved to 5-9, Miller set herself apart by clearing 5-9 1/4 on her first attempt, stepping off the pit with a fist pump. Once the other jumpers failed at that mark on their first try, it put Miller way out in front.
None of the others cleared 5-9, giving Miller the state title. The last athlete from the CCS to win a state title was York's Kim Stone in 1999.
For Kaufman, competing at the state finals was nowhere on her radar when the season started. But she was one of seven athletes from the CCS to qualify and guaranteed herself a medal by clearing 5-8 with three other jumpers.
``I have no problem losing to her,'' Kaufman said about Miller. ``I knew she had the win when she jumped 5-9. I definitely wanted top three, but I'm happy with fourth.''
The meet ended in high fashion when the Long Beach Poly girls 1,600-meter relay team set a national high school record by winning in 3:35.49.
James Logan junior Kevin Craddock won two state titles by running national-leading times in the 110 and 300 hurdles. Craddock set a meet record in the 110 hurdles, winning in 13.39 seconds. He won the 300 hurdles in 35.93.
SACRAMENTO - Ronnie Drummer lost his first 100-meter race of the season Saturday, but the soft-spoken North Salinas senior pulled off an impressive double for the second consecutive year, taking home two sprint medals at the 86th annual state track and field meet at Hughes Stadium.
Drummer finished third in the 100 (10.57 seconds) and fourth in the 200 (21.35) against some of the nation's top sprinters. Skyline's Kenny O'Neal, who will play football at Florida State, won the 100 in 10.34. Long Beach Poly's Derrick Jones won the 200 in 21.10.
``It felt a little weird running from behind,'' said Drummer, who will play football and run track for Duke. ``But I'm happy just to have made it back to the finals. Not a lot of kids get to make it this far two years in a row, so I was glad to get the chance. There are things I might have done differently, but I did a lot of things right, so I can't complain.''
North Salinas Coach Ed Barber looked on with pride as Drummer came off the track.
``Ronnie is a class act,'' Barber said. ``Not only is he a great athlete, he's a good student with a lot of character. It's nice to see him achieve what he has; it couldn't happen to a nicer guy.''
Los Gatos' Chris Little equaled a personal best achieved Friday and finished fourth against a strong field in the pole vault by clearing 15 feet, 3 3/4 inches.
The Brigham Young-bound senior nearly cleared 15-8 on his third attempt. Granite Bay's Scott Roth won by clearing 16-4.
``I would have never guessed that Chris would earn a medal against this field,'' Coach Brandon Vance said. ``He beat some guys who have cleared 15-10; he became a man out there today.''
Pioneer's Sean Lopes survived a spiked shin and being boxed in on the last lap of the 800 meters to take home the first medal in school history with a sixth-place finish. His time of 1:53.66 was a personal best and school record.
``In the last 50 meters, I saw five guys ahead of me and felt someone on my shoulder,'' Lopes said. ``The last 10 meters were the best part of the race. Getting that medal and finally breaking 1:54 was huge . . . that was all I could ask for.''
Menlo-Atherton junior Evan Anderson nearly went down after tangling legs with another runner on the second lap of the 1,600, but he came back to lead much of the third lap before settling for sixth place (4:20.52).
``I was disappointed, but I learned a lot from the experience,'' Anderson said. ``I'll be more prepared next year.''
Menlo-Atherton senior Jeremy Mineau, who will run at Washington next year, took fifth in the 3,200 (9:15.95), and UCLA-bound Kyle Shackleton of Carlmont won a medal with a sixth-place finish (9:17.03).
``I thought this was my time to bust out and run well tonight,'' Mineau said. ``But after the first mile I knew I didn't have it. But I can't be disappointed winning a state medal.''
Another standout performance was turned in by Westmoor senior Julian Eison, who finished fifth in the triple jump (48-5 1/4).
``It was a great weekend, I PR'ed three times,'' Eison said. ``I knew I had to do it again today and give my all to get a medal, so I'm pretty satisfied.''
SACRAMENTO - Having just run a personal best of 10.51 seconds to qualify for today's final in the 100 meters, North Salinas' Ronnie Drummer wasn't satisfied with his qualifying time in the 200 at the state track and field meet Friday.
``I just got a little tired in the 200 today,'' said Drummer, who also ran a leg in the 400 relay. ``I'm happy I qualified, but I hate losing a heat, whether it's in qualifying or in a final.''
Last season, Drummer ran a personal best of 21.16 in the state 200 final to finish second, after taking fourth in the 100.
Friday, Drummer had the second-best 100 qualifying time behind Skyline's Kenny O'Neal's sizzling 10.34, the third-fastest time in the nation this year and fastest in California in nine years. Drummer's time of 21.52 in the 200 was second in his heat and fifth overall.
``Last year I had Nick Cunningham from Monterey High pushing me all season,'' said Drummer, who will attend Duke this fall. ``I don't think I'm as prepared as I was; I haven't run against this type of competition all year except for the Arcadia meet.''
Drummer is the only boy from the Central Coast Section to qualify in two finals today. The 100 final is at 6:19 p.m., the 200 at 7:10.
Other CCS athletes had qualifying performances:
Los Gatos' Chris Little cleared a personal best of 15-3 3/4 in the pole vault.
``I coached him conservative at CCS, but now is the time for him to go all out. He needs to with the talent in this field,'' said Little's vault coach, Brandon Vance.
Granite Bay's Ryan Shuler has the best vault in the state this year, clearing 16-6. Little said his goal is to reach 16 feet today.
Pioneer senior Sean Lopes became the first Mustang to qualify for a state final, finishing fourth in his 800 heat and qualifying with the fourth-best time (1:54.25).
``I lost at CCS in the last 10 meters, so I was working on finishing strong mentally all week,'' Lopes said. ``After last week, this was definitely a great experience to get a chance to run in the final.''
Mt. Pleasant's Corey White, the CCS champion in the discus, qualified eighth with a personal best of 178-02.
It was a busy day for Westmoor senior Julian Eison, who competed in the long jump, high jump and triple jump. Eison qualified sixth in the triple jump, setting a school record of 48 feet.
``I missed a jump of about 50 feet by fouling by an inch or two,'' said Eison, who will compete at UC-Irvine next year. ``My goal is 50 feet tomorrow. The competition is so hot it's making me squeeze more out of my jumps.''
SACRAMENTO - Alicia Follmar, the defending state champion in the 1,600 meters, thought about trying to win her heat Friday in the qualifying round at the state meet. But as the pace got faster, the Saratoga junior decided winning today was more important.
``I decided to save it for tomorrow,'' said Follmar, who qualified by placing third in her heat. ``That's when it really matters.''
Follmar, the only defending state champion from the Central Coast Section, is looking to run a personal best in today's final at Hughes Stadium. In all, nine girls from the CCS qualified in six events for the finals at the 86th CIF state track and field championships at Sacramento City College.
None of the runners in the 1,600 posted fast qualifying times, but Follmar thinks she might need to break her personal record of 4:51.47 seconds to repeat.
``Runners are faster this year,'' Follmar said. ``It will take a lot better time to win this year. I think all I need is the right race. I want to get a PR.''
After bursting onto the scene last season, Follmar has the added pressure of being marked as the runner to beat. She entered with the state's second-fastest time behind Lindsay Allen of College Park, whom Follmar edged in last year's final. Follmar is also carrying the section's torch in the 1,600: The past three state champions have come from the CCS.
``I have to worry about other people,'' Follmar said. ``Last year, no one knew who I was and it was nice to run without anyone thinking about me.''
Follmar had the seventh-fastest qualifying time Friday, 4:59.84. Follmar went out with the leaders in her heat, then settled back and maintained her third position, knowing the top three in each heat advance.
The CCS had three athletes qualify in the 800 and two each in the high jump and pole vault.
In the high jump, Branham's Amber Kaufman and Los Altos' Allie Miller advanced to their first finals by clearing 5 feet, 7 inches. (The CCS had an unprecedented seven athletes qualify for the state meet after they cleared 5-4 at the section finals.)
After the field of 30 was whittled to 14, Kaufman cleared 5-7 on her first attempt and enters the finals as the top qualifier. Miller cleared on her final jump and said she simply needed to make a few adjustments off her two misses.
``I knew what I had to do. I wasn't nervous. I had a lot of pop,'' Miller said.
In the pole vault, St. Francis sophomore Taylor Franklin and Del Mar senior Stevie Odle advanced by clearing 11-8. Four athletes cleared 12-0, which is looking like the height needed to finish near the top.
Franklin's best this season is 12-0; Odle's is 11-9.
Both athletes were less worried about medals and simply happy to advance.
``I think that was the goal of all of us,'' Franklin said.
SACRAMENTO - Aptos' Jacob Evans defended his Central Coast Section title in the 1,600 meters last week, edging Menlo-Atherton junior Evan Anderson as the pair dueled down the stretch.
But the Stanford-bound senior's high school career ended on a disappointing note Friday when he finished seventh in his heat in 4:24.15, failing to qualify for today's final at Sacramento City College's Hughes Stadium.
Anderson finished fifth in a different heat and earned the ninth and final qualifying spot with a time of 4:18.99.
Evans' heat got off to a slow start and it seemed that nobody wanted to take control, a style that usually suits Evans' style of finishing with a strong kick.
``I can usually deal with a slow start, and coming in I felt like I could have made the final,'' said Evans, who finished eighth in the event at state last year. ``I just didn't have it today. I gave it everything I had on the last lap, but I ran the worst race of the season.''
Anderson's heat was also slow-paced, but he doesn't plan to keep it slow today.
``I felt a little iffy coming in, and the heat and wind seemed to slow down the pace,'' Anderson said. ``I couldn't have run much faster at the end, but I might have kicked a little earlier. I'm going to go all out tomorrow.''
Three athletes from the CCS will be featured in today's girls 800 final, including Archbishop Mitty's Christine Whalen and Menlo's Libby Jenke, who own the state's second- and third-best times, respectively. Live Oak's Christine Jones also qualified.
Grouped in the same heat, Jenke and Whalen finished first and second, respectively. Whalen, the CCS champion, made her move on the backstretch, holding the lead for about 30 meters before Jenke passed her on the turn and recorded the fastest qualifying time, 2:13.94.
``I was a little surprised. We both had great times,'' Whalen said of being in the same heat with Jenke. ``I'm glad she was there. It gives me a taste of how competitive it will be tomorrow.''
Whalen, who qualified in 2:15.31, owned the state's top time much of the season before Alysia Johnson of Canyon ran a 2:10.82. Johnson came in third in her heat and had the ninth-best time (2:15.79). Jones, who was third in her heat, qualified in 2:15.49.
Mt. Pleasant junior Galina Becker got a late start to the season after waiting seven weeks for surgery to get a bone chip removed from her knee. Although Becker and Coach Steve Nelson thought the injury might cost her at the state level, she was the only female athlete from the section to qualify in two events.
Becker's mark of 18 feet, 9 3/4 inches was the eighth-best distance in the long jump. She also had the fourth-best triple jump, at 38-10 1/4, meaning she can win two state medals for a second year in a row. Last year, Becker placed fifth in the long jump and sixth in the triple jump.
Greenfield senior Joel Tuosto, who finished fourth in the triple jump last year, fouled on all three of his attempts and failed to qualify for the finals. Tuosto, headed to UCLA, has a sore left hamstring and also failed to qualify in the long jump.
What: The 86th annual CIF track and field championships at Hughes Stadium, Sacramento City College.
When: Qualifying rounds today: field events at 2 p.m, running events at 5 p.m. Finals Saturday: field events at 3 p.m., running events at 5 p.m.
Tickets: Stadium offices open at 12:45 p.m. General admission is $9 today, $10 Saturday. Children and students (with high school ID) are $5 and $6. Parking is $5.
Top CCS performers
The Central Coast Section qualified at least three athletes in each event, but only a handful will make Saturday's finals. Here are some of the section's best who are among the state leaders in their events:
Ronnie Drummer, North Salinas, 100 and 200: Drummer owns the state's fifth-best time in the 100 (10.55 seconds) and is hoping to become the first male CCS sprinter to win a state title since North Salinas' Calvin Harrison won the 200 in 1993. Drummer's wind-aided 21.47 in the 200 is sixth-best in the state.
Jacob Evans, Aptos, 1,600: Evans (state No. 2 at 4:10.41) is one of four athletes who have run under 4:11 this season. State leader Brandon Bethke of El Toro ran a 4:09.53 at the Southern Section finals.
Jeremy Mineau, Menlo-Atherton, 3,200: Mineau owns the state's second-best time and will be fresh Saturday; there is no qualifying in the 3,200.
Joel Tuosto, Greenfield, long jump, triple jump: Tuosto, who received a scholarship to UCLA, won his second section title in the triple jump and owns the state's fifth-best mark, 48-9 1/2. He is No. 12 in the long jump, but fifth overall with a wind-aided 24-3 1/4.
Alicia Follmar, Saratoga, and Ciara Viehweg, St. Ignatius, 1,600: Follmar, the defending state champion, no longer owns the state's best time after Lindsay Allen of College Park won her section final in 4:48.22. Follmar edged Allen at last year's state final. Viehweg owns the state's fourth-best time.
Allie Miller, Los Altos; Bethany Johansen, Archbishop Mitty; Amber Kaufman, Branham; high jump: Miller, the CCS champ, enters with the top qualifying mark (5-8). Johansen and Kaufman have cleared 5-8 this season, which could be needed to medal.
Christine Whalen, Archbishop Mitty and Libby Jenke, Menlo, 800: Owners of the Nos. 1 and 3 times in the state, Whalen won the CCS title by passing Jenke down the stretch. There could be a repeat performance this weekend.
Stevie Odle, Del Mar, pole vault: Odle is No. 10 in the state but might need to clear 12 feet to medal. Her season best is 11-9, but nine other athletes have cleared 12 feet.
-- MARK GOMEZ