By now, Gunn juniors Maya Miklos and Gillian Meeks should feel right at home in the final track meet of the season.
When the 97th annual CIF State Track & Field Championships get under way Friday, Miklos will be competing for a third straight year and Meeks for a second.
Getting back to the finals on Saturday at Veterans Memorial Stadium on the campus of Buchanan High in Clovis, however, still is no easy task despite the fact both qualified in 2014.
Miklos is seeded 14th in the 300 hurdles (43.79) and 20th in the 100 hurdles (15.11) after winning the longer race and finishing third in the shorter at the Central Coast Section Championships last Friday at San Jose City College.
Meeks, meanwhile, is seeded 17th in the 1,600 after clocking 4:57.98 to become the first Gunn girl to win a section title in the event.
Both runners, however, probably haven't come close to peaking after spending much of the dual-meet season running 3-4 events.
"I like to use dual meets for training," explained Gunn coach PattiSue Plumer, a two-time Olympian and former All-American at Stanford.
"I've quadrupled in every league race this year," said Miklos. "It's going to help me at state, having that endurance. Having that should help me in both races on Friday and, hopefully, Saturday."
Miklos also can draw on her experience in the big meet.
"It's been great having a lot of experience there," Miklos explained. "As a freshman, I was blown away going to state. It was a great experience. I wasn't seeded very high, so the expectations weren't high . . . I was really happy to just compete."
And last year?
"I really wanted to make finals," she said. "I made the podium and got a medal, which I'll cherish and keep forever."
Miklos ran a school record of 42.54 in the prelims and just missed that mark with a 42.55 in the finals.
While her CCS winning time from last week was nearly a second slower than in '14, Miklos isn't concerned about her No. 14 seed or the No. 1 qualifying time of 41.10 by Jurnee Woodward of Vacaville.
"It's not that bad," she said of her seeding. "And, I decided to not look at other times obsessively. I haven't posted a lot of fast times this year, but I know when I get the competition, I can drop a lot of time. I'm a big-meet person. I love that race and I love winning. I love to go out and beat people. I'm always going to run my fastest with I'm under pressure (and have good competition)."
The 100 hurdles will be just another opportunity for Miklos, who expects to be running again on Saturday.
"That is the plan," she said.
Meeks automatically qualified for the 3,200 finals last year, where she finished 16th in 10:46.17. She'll have to be at her best on Friday to run another day.
"I think I have to PR or run my best to make it to the championship," Meeks said. "I think I can run faster (than at CCS)."
So does Plumer.
"She had better background training this year," said Plumer, who started the season gearing Meeks for the 3,200. That plan, however, shifted to the 1,600.
Meeks ran a personal best of 4:56.81 (converted from the mile) earlier this season. That time, though, would rank her only 16th among Friday's qualifiers. Destiny Collins of Great Oak is No. 1 at 4:40.34 and is a heavy favorite to make up for last year's finale, where she was tripped and fell in a race won by Gunn senior Sarah Robinson.
"If 10 girls run 4:48 . . . you can't control other people," Plumer said. "I just want her (Meeks) to have a great race and feel good about she's done. I hope she has a great meet at state, but I don't want it to take away for what she's accomplished this season."
Meeks, like Miklos, sacrificed fast early season times for the good of the team during the dual-meet season. There were only two meets Stanford and Arcadia where Meeks had the opportunity to be pulled along by a fast pace.
At CCS, Meeks had to do most of the hard work.
"A race of heart," Plumer said of the CCS final. "You were going to have to pay a price to beat her that day. That was really gutsy (taking it out and leading). It's a big deal to win CCS."
Added Meeks: "A couple of the girls had good finishing speed. I kind of had to take the lead and push the pace. I knew I had the potential to win, but stuff just needed to be right. Being able to pull it off was a big relief."
Meeks and Miklos, along with Palo Alto junior Eli Givens (see separate story), were among six local athletes who advanced to the state meet from CCS.
Menlo School senior Lizzie Lacy moved on in the 3,200 as she ran her second-fastest time ever, a 10:27.71, to take second behind Cate Ratliff of Santa Cruz (10:27.10). The two sprinted the last 120 meters. Lacy's time was faster than all but four winning times in CCS history since the race was first held in 1977.
"I knew going into CCS finals that it would be a fast race, so it was never really a question of if it would be fast, but the unknown was just how fast," said Lacy. "I didn't think it would be such a fast race, but staying with Cate made the second mile very fast and us two competing against one another is what pushed it to be such fast finishing times. I think that having the pace be so fast is good preparation for State."
Lacy is the No. 5 seed (behind Ratliff) for the finals on Saturday night. Fiona O'Keeffe of Davis (10:00.85) and Collins (10:11.64) appeared to be locks for the top two spots, according to Menlo coach Jorge Chen.
"I agree with Jorge's analysis of the top two spots, and I think that maybe a third is also locked as well," Lacy said. "However, from fourth through around 10 all ran under a 10:30 during qualifying, so the 4-14 spots are going to be really close I am almost sure."
"It'll be another great race for the podium," said Chen. "Lizzie is excited for her last high school race but, we have to remember that she's still a novice when it comes to track."
This track season has been the first for Lacy, who previously ran cross country (reaching the state meet in the fall) in addition to playing soccer and lacrosse.
"As for do I have enough experience in the 3200, I have to say that I've only ever raced it less than 10 times in my life so every new race is a learning experience for me what i did well, what didn't work well, how I should react to what other runners do," said Lacy. "I think that Arcadia (a career-best 10:25.05) gave me really comparable experience to what I will be facing Saturday, but I'm sure it will be like no race I've ever run so I'm excited to see how it pans out.
"Jorge and I are trying not to go into the talk about expectations, because things like that tend to get into my head and distract me, especially in a sport like track. So I'm just going out and giving it what I have, and seeing how that performance comes up against my competitors. I'm giving it my all and they are too, that's what I'm expecting of myself."
Also advancing was Menlo-Atherton senior Adam Scandlyn. He made two tours of the track in a personal best of 1:55.92 to finish second and move to No. 4 in school history in the 800.
Scandlyn will be joined by M-A junior Kathryn Mohr in the pole vault. While she tied for fourth at 11-7 (only the top three automatically qualify), Mohr did reach the at-large qualifying mark.