Their performances were the highlights for Patch.com-area participants who competed at Buchanan High in Clovis in the sport’s season-ending event.
Merritt, who finished second for Santa Margarita Catholic last year, continued to fulfill the promise of her talent as she won against a more seasoned field.
Taylor, a senior from Newport Harbor, very nearly won the discus—he was three inches short—and also took third in the shot put, adding his name to Newport Harbor’s legacy of muscle.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about Merritt’s performance is that she is only a sophomore. She is her age group’s national leader, and it figures she will only get better.
A lot better.
Although she did not reach her stated goal of 14 feet—the national record is 14-1—Merritt cleared 13 feet 3 3/4 inches. She came into the event ranked No. 4 in the nation, the highest-ranked sophomore, and the best girl outside of Texas.
Second place went to Corona Roosevelt senior Gardenia Centanaro, who won a tiebreaker with Los Gatos junior Greta Wagner at 12-11 3/4. Merritt was unable to clear 13-8 in three attempts, which would have matched her sophomore national record.
Merritt wasn’t the only Santa Margarita pole vaulter who had a great day. Parker Curry, a junior, took third in the boys’ event by winning a tiebreaker among six athletes who cleared 15-10. The winner was Luigi Colella of Thousand Oaks, who won a tiebreaker with fellow junior August Kiles of Tamalpais at 16-4.
Newport Harbor’s Taylor was also impressive, and he came within a finger of having a better day than Merritt.
He finished second in the discus with a throw of 188-5, three inches short of Brenden Song’s winning 188-8 for Santee West Hills.
It had to be especially disappointing for Taylor, who had four throws of at least two feet farther than Song’s second-best effort of 180-4. Taylor came into the event seeded second, but behind Great Oak’s Nick Ponzio, who finished fourth at 184-6.
Taylor added to his day in the shot put, where he landed on the third step of the podium with a heave of 61 feet 1-1/4 inches. Great Oak’s Ponzio was the easy winner at 66-2-1/2, followed by Crespi junior Amir Ali Patterson (62-9-3/4).
Only the state’s elite athletes make it through to Saturday’s second day of competition. Here’s a look at local athletes on the state’s biggest stage.