CLOVIS -- Shanique Walker and Cydney Leath may be teammates at Mt. Pleasant, but they're also each other's competition.
"We really push each other," Leath said, giving Walker a playful shove before Walker responded in kind.
The girls took their friendly rivalry to new heights in preliminaries Friday at the CIF state track and field championships. Each qualified for Saturday's finals in three events.
Walker and Leath both qualified in the triple jump and 4x100 relay. Walker's mark of 40 feet, 113/4 inches in the triple jump was the second-best of the day; Leath had the fourth-best mark at 40-21/2.
"I was just focused on holding my phases and being aggressive at the board," Walker said. "Instead of pushing down and riding the jump out, I just took it one phase at a time."
Standing in the way of their triple-jump title hopes is Ciarra Brewer of Union City's Logan High, the national leader in the event at 43-31/4. Brewer came close to her top jump Friday with a leap of 43-2.
"With Ciarra here, I'll have to push myself," Walker said. "It should be fun. I'm excited."
Walker also qualified for the final in the 100-meter hurdles with the day's sixth-fastest time (14.11 seconds). Leath came up short in that event, but outleapt Walker in the long jump, finishing with the ninth-best mark at 18-21/2.
In the relay, Walker and Leath teamed with Shayla McPhearson and Kayla Munoz to help Mt. Pleasant squeak into the finals with the ninth-fastest time. Only the top nine teams qualified.
The Cardinals will do battle on Saturday with Piedmont Hills' foursome of Ellisa Bryant, Alexandria Diaz, Tekeya Todd and Vivian Nguyen. The Pirates edged Mt. Pleasant in a heat that also included national powerhouse Long Beach Poly, clocking the sixth-fastest overall time at 47.05.
"Long Beach Poly is the fastest team in America, and it was a joy to run with them and make the finals," Piedmont Hills sophomore Alexandria Diaz said.
Mt. Pleasant and Piedmont Hills won't be the only CCS teams renewing a rivalry in the 4x100 relay. On the boys' side, Bellarmine's George Armistead, Andre Chapman, Justin Montgomery and Joey Colucci broke the school record with a time of 41.74, becoming the first 4x100 relay team in Bells history to make the state finals.
Bellarmine was the eighth-fastest team in the event. Gilroy, which benefitted from a botched handoff by the Bells to win last week's CCS finals, was seventh in 41.66.
"We wanted to get this right and make the finals," Chapman said. "We knew we should have beaten Gilroy in the CCS final, and there's been a lot of talk all week about who should have beaten who. Now we have a chance to redeem ourselves."
Like Bellarmine, Gilroy's foursome of Jourdan Soares, Julian Travis, Romeo Travis and David Gunther turned in a personal-best time. But Soares thinks the Mustangs can do even better.
"I definitely think we can drop a lot off it come the finals," Soares said. "I think we can easily accomplish a top-three finish."
Also advancing to the finals:
CLOVIS -- On a wet Saturday at the CIF state track and field championships, no Santa Clara County athletes brought home more medals than Mt. Pleasant's Cydney Leath and Shanique Walker.
Leath placed second in the girls triple jump with a mark of 39 feet, 113/4 inches. Walker was third in the girls 100-meter hurdles with a time of 14.17 seconds and fifth in the triple jump in 39-21/2.
Together, they helped Mt. Pleasant finish in a tie for third place in the girls team standings with 20 points.
Mountain View juniors Allison Sturges and Samantha Sinclair also reached the medal podium. Sturges finished fifth in the girls 1,600 with a personal-best 4:47.65, and Sinclair captured fifth in the girls shot put with a throw of 41-11/2.
On a triple-jump runway slickened by intermittent rain, Leath overcame two early fouls to outleap Walker, who came in ranked second in the state.
"Cydney got real focused," Mt. Pleasant coach Steve Nelson said. "She had a couple of bad jumps where she wasn't getting her foot on the board. Once she started concentrating on getting her foot planted, she did real well."
"I just executed my jumps," Leath said.
Even with a top-three finish in the hurdles, Walker was less than thrilled with her performance.
"I didn't P.R.," the senior said. "I'm really mad about that."
Still, some things Walker had been working on in practice paid off in her final high school race.
"She wasn't getting enough force with her lead arm, and it was affecting her ability to get her lead foot down," Nelson said. "Today she was really using that arm and punching down, and that made the difference in getting her a top-three finish."
In the triple jump, Walker was hindered by a bad ankle, which Nelson blamed on having to compete in several events scheduled close together. Walker had to bounce back and forth between the jump pit, the girls 4x100 relay -- in which Mt. Pleasant finished eighth -- and the hurdles.
But she didn't make excuses.
"I didn't come anywhere close to what I'd hoped for," Walker said. "I have really high expectations."
In addition to competing in the triple jump and the relay, Leath took part in the long jump but did not place.
Sturges set a personal record in the girls 1,600 for the second straight day. After clocking in at 4:50.29 in Friday's preliminaries, the junior relied an energy-conservation strategy to finish near the front of the pack.
"I held back from the rest of the runners on the first lap and just kept a pace I was comfortable with -- 72, 73 (seconds)," Sturges said. "That really worked for me."
In other girls events, Homestead junior Rachel Bolton and Presentation freshman Taylore Jacques tied for seventh in the pole vault, each clearing the bar at 11-6, Wilcox junior Iesha Hardiman came in eighth in the 400 meters in 56.84.
On the boys side, no Santa Clara County athletes reached the medal stand. Gilroy's 4x100 relay team came the closest, placing seventh by .03 seconds when it needed to finish sixth.
"That was frustrating, especially since we had it," junior Jourdan Soares said.
Bellarmine came in eighth in its first 4x100 finals appearance.
Palo Alto senior Maurice Williams finished seventh in the 100 in 10.91. In the 300 hurdles, Prospect sophomore Kamara Biawogi came in eighth in 49.62.
Three Santa Clara County athletes finished in the top 20 in the boys 3,200. Monta Vista junior Kevin Bishop took 12th place in 8:59.82, Mountain View junior came in 17th in 9:04.46 and Los Gatos senior Will Geiken was 19th in 9:08.96.