A year of discovery, accomplishment | May 31, 2019 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - May 31, 2019

A year of discovery, accomplishment

Gunn's Freeman faces adversity and gets stronger

by Rick Eymer and Glenn Reeves

Gunn senior Jared Freeman didn't finish his high school track and field season the way he had hoped. He's a better man for it.

Freeman held the top marks in the Central Coast Section in both the discus (172-0) and shot put (56-7) into last weekend's state track meet at Buchanan High in Clovis. In Friday's trials, he threw 52-1 3/4 in the shot put and 149-9 in the discus.

He was building toward that weekend since finishing fourth at last year's CCS meet and just missing a trip to the state.

A blister on the middle finger of his throwing hand, which developed three days before the state meet, conspired against him.

"Of all the times it could happen it was the most important week to me," Freeman said on the eve of his high school graduation. "I kept throwing on it because I needed to know how it would feel throwing at the meet. It popped during a throw."

The blister developed exactly on the impact point of his fingertip to the discus, the spot that guided the disc out of his hand.

He may be a little frustrated but Freeman is far from being disappointed. He knows one door may be closing and another opening.

Freeman narrowed his college choices to Fresno Stare and UC Santa Barbara and he's hoping to get one last visit before he decides. Just a couple of years ago, he would never have dreamed he'd be this situation.

"I threw the discus and shot put for the first time my sophomore year," Freeman said. "That's when Andy Maltz (who is a sophomore at Claremont Mudd Scripps competing in track and field and football) was here and I looked up to him. He is a great leader and a great athletic. People started calling me 'mini-Andy,' and he was a big help."

Freeman followed in Maltz's footsteps and became a team captain this season, a position he took seriously. He discovered the importance of a strong support system (led by his mother Sue Freeman), having great teammates and meeting other coaches and athletes.

"Arcadia was the turning point for me," Freeman said. "I started meeting (college) coaches and I got my PR in the discus. It gave me a lot of confidence that I could be competitive. That's when I started training harder with my technique. I love having the support of so many great people. It's what motivates me. I love my teammates, they pushed me and I made a big jump this season because of them."

First-year coach Michael Granville instilled a sense of excitement into Freeman's season which, he says, "fueled my energy. He really supported me. He's been amazing."

Freeman plans to keep busy this summer, trying to qualify for the Junior Olympics and the New Balance national meet. He's also returning to the Ironwood Throws Camp, along with Los Altos' Kristofer Emig. The pair attended last year and has recruited several more to accompany them this year.

"It's up in Idaho, near Coeur d'Alene," Freeman said. "They teach all the throws and I really enjoyed it. We're out on a lake."

He's also recruited Castilleja junior Moorea Mitchell, who made a remarkable leap in the shot put and qualified for the state meet.

"We hung out together at the state meet," Freeman said. "We were the only two people from Palo Alto there. To see what she did this year, I can't imagine what she could for next year. She's a great athlete."

Despite running into an obstacle, Freeman still feels good about his future.

"I'm not that experienced in the weight room," he said. "I feel I can excel in college with improved strength and explosion."

Menlo School junior Charlotte Tomkinson came very close to winning the girls 800 meters Saturday at the state track and field finals at Buchanan High in Clovis.

She came in second place behind Marin Catholic's Samantha Wallenstrom with a personal-best time of 2:09.41.

That was after Tomkinson finished sixth in the 800 last year as a sophomore.

"Not bad,'' Menlo coach Jorge Chen understated, with a laugh. "A good progression.''

Tomkinson had the fifth-fastest qualifying time at Friday's prelims and therefore did not have a preferred starting position. She had to expend considerable energy to move up on the shoulder of first-lap leader Rayna Stanziano of Concord at the 300 mark. With around 120 meters left in the race Tomkinson, a noted kicker, made her move past Stanziano and took the lead.

But the race was not over. Wallenstrom, a sophomore, had expended less of her energy reserves and was positioned to utilize a powerful closing kick to go past Tomkinson on the homestretch and take first place in 2:08.78.

"Charlotte could taste a state title,'' Chen said. "But she's not disappointed at all. They will go at it again next year.''

Kyra Pretre, Tomkinson's teammate and training partner, also qualified for the 800 final and finished 10th in the race with a time of 2:13.95.

"I'm very proud, it was a spectacular weekend, the culmination of our season,'' Chen said. "Menlo made a lot of noise in the CCS and state.''

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