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Turlock pole vaulter takes second at State

Oct 14, 2023Oct 14, 2023

CLOVIS — Pole vaulter Max McFarlane's prep season had been over for less than 30 minutes and already his thoughts had turned to 2024.

The Turlock High junior finished second at the 103rd CIF Track and Field Championships on Saturday at Buchanan High School, the lone THS athlete to make it out of the preliminary rounds.

McFarlane's leap of 16 feet, 2 inches tied for second place with Dylan Curtis of Redondo High School (Redondo Beach). They finished behind Hilton Green (16-6) of host Buchanan.

"Next year," said McFarlane. "Next year, I’ll get first."

It stands to reason. Both Green and Curtis are seniors, meaning McFarlane has the highest leap of any returning vaulter.

"I’m at the same point Hilton was last year," McFarlane pointed out. "I’ve jumped 16-5 and took second in state."

McFarlane needed to exceed his personal best by one inch to force a jump-off with Green, but couldn't get over in three attempts.

Green, for his part, was surprised that 16-6 was good enough to take the gold.

"I thought Max and Dylan would get 16-6 and we’d have to go to 16-10," said Green. "But at the end of the day, 16-6 got the job done."

Green, who has a season-best leap of 17-1, failed in three attempts at 17-2, after he’d clinched first place.

McFarlane and Green are not only competitors, they’re family — "My mom's cousin married his aunt," McFarlane explained — and the two will work out together this summer.

"I haven't been able to jump in practice with him at all," said Green. "I’ll probably do that over the summer. But being able to look up in the stands and see his family, and I know all of them, and he knows all of mine, it was a really cool moment."

But before workouts with his cousin, McFarlane has the 63rd annual Golden West Track and Field Invitational on Saturday in Rancho Cordova, then it's on to the Nike Outdoor Nationals June 15-18 in Eugene, Ore.

"I am so proud of him," said Turlock High coach Bergann Hernandez. "He went with the plan, which was good, because at first, I think he was a little nervous to stick with the plan."

Part of the plan was to using different poles during the state meet.

"This is going to make no sense to you," but I went from a 16-3 flex 190 fiberglass pole to a 14-3 flex 200 carbon pole," said McFarlane. "The new pole is stiffer. I didn't realize how much stiffer until I hit it. I would’ve gotten more pop off the top."

At one point, McFarlane made his way down the runway with a new pole and was barely off the ground before he flipped directly into the padded pit, more reminiscent of a long jump than a pole vault.

Undeterred, McFarlane bounced up immediately and asked Hernandez, sitting in the stands, "Did you get that on video?" … drawing laughter from the crowd.

McFarlane, who qualified with a leap of 15-0 on Friday, passed at the starting height of 14-8, but got into the fray at 15-2, nailing it on his first attempt. The Bulldogs star then passed at 15-6 and missed his first attempt at 15-10, but nailed the second, and then went on to hit his first try at 16-2.

McFarland, Green and Curtis were the only three vaulters to get past 15-10, with juniors Joey Weisman (Torrey Pines) and Jacob Emerson (Sage Creek), and sophomore Kai Anderson (University City) topping out at 15-6.

"At the beginning of the season, I didn't think it was going to happen," said McFarlane, who qualified for the state meet as a sophomore, but failed to reach the finals. "I thought I’d be third or fifth, probably. So, second is pretty good."

McFarlane was one of eight athletes from Turlock and Pitman high schools to qualify for the state meet.

Junior long jumper Shaylan Roy-Williams, who won the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters championship the week before with a personal best 18-7, did not qualify for the final with her leap of 17-0 1/4. Junior Olivia Walker, who was part of the 4x400 relay team with Ava Torres, Zoe Lamur and Ella Spaulding, and who also qualified in the high jump and 400, did not advance to Saturday's action.

The relay squad's 3:54.11 effort was good for 11th place (only the top nine advance). Walker's had no-height in the high jump and her time of 57.49 in the 400 put her in 22nd place.

Phoenix Nuñez-Bradshaw mark of 156-7 in the boys discus put him in 20th place.

Pitman's Joey Stout just missed qualification in both the 200- and 400-meter dashes, but was agonizingly close. His time of 48.66 was .04 behind the ninth and final qualifier, Alexander Franco of Dublin. Stout's 21.56 clocking in the 200 missed by .15 seconds.