Palo Alto junior E.J. Floreal has assured himself of a busy day on Saturday when the finals of the CIF State Track and Field Championships are held at Veterans Memorial Stadium on the campus of Buchanan High in Clovis.
For sure, Floreal will score some points. Most likely, he'll bring home at least one medal. And, perhaps, he'll accomplish something even more special.
"He can win," Paly coach Jason Fung said of Floreal's chances in the 200. "I have a hunch."
The 200 is Floreal's best event because he doesn't need to be as quick out of the blocks as in the 100. He can take more time unfolding his 6-foot-4 frame, as he did Friday while running 21.24 to become the No. 2 qualifier behind state leader Khalfani Muhammad of Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks). Muhammad clocked 21.16, which equals Floreal's school record.
Floreal's 21.24 was his second-fastest time ever and Fung believes there's more.
A lot, of course, depends on the weather. It was hot on Friday.
The Paly 400 relay team felt the heat and ran fast enough to qualify for the finals while clocking a 41.70, the second-fastest time in school history. The team consisted of senior Tremaine Kirkman, junior Jayshawn Gates-Mouton, senior Morris Gates-Mouton and Floreal.
Paly had the eighth-fastest qualifying time on Friday, with only the top nine advancing.
State leader Rio Mesa was the No. 1 qualifier in 41.14 while Kennedy (Richmond) was the top NorCal team while taking sixth in 41.55. Had Palo Alto equalled its school record of 41.56 from last week's Central Coast Section finals, the Vikings would have qualified sixth. Paly wound up third in the fourth and final heat.
"They ran great," Fung said. "Maybe a little nervous, but, very hot and the energy is not the best. Maybe a good night's rest will help."
Floreal returned later to finish seventh in the 100 prelims, clocking 10.64 to qualify for Saturday's finals. Muhammad was the No. 1 qualifier in 10.44.
"He had to work," Fung said of Floreal. "Slow start."
Floreal qualified for his third event a short time later when he won is heat of the 200 to finish off a busy day.
Paly senior Nikolai Solgaard ran a personal best of 1:54.36 in the 800 meters but missed advancing after seventh in Heat 2. The last qualifier was 1:52.96. He finished 17th overall.
Palo Alto's 4x400 relay team of Morris Gates-Mouton, Solgaard, Jonathan Alee and Nick Sullivan ran a school record of 3:20.69, but finished only fifth in its heat and missed qualifying. The Vikings were 17th overall. The last qualifying spot went to Amador Valley's 3:18.53. Serra of the Southern Section was the top qualifier in 3:14.60.
In other races:
Menlo-Atherton junior George Baier ran his second-fastest time ever, but his time of 4:21.98 in the 1600 meters got him only 11th in his heat and 23rd overall in a field of 31. The last qualifier in the event ran 4:15.34.
Menlo School sophomore Maddy Price also missed advancing to the finals, in the girls' 400, as she ran fifth in her heat in 57.76. It was well off her personal best of 56.68 from the CCS finals. The slowest qualifier to the finals was 55.72.
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