Qualifying for this week's state track and field meet certainly was no easy task for anyone at the highly competitive Central Coast Section track and field championships - except maybe for national leaders Vashti Thomas of Mt. Pleasant and Nico Weiler of Los Gatos.
Well, check that. For somebody with a broken right wrist, Eric Surprenant sure made running and jumping hurdles look easy on May 23 at Gilroy High.
First Surprenant zipped to second place in the 110-meter high hurdles in 14.59 seconds, just .06 shy of his personal best. Later the Lynbrook senior ran away from the field in the 300 lows, breezing to the gold medal in 37.65, his first sub-38 race and the second-fastest time in California this season.
"This is exciting," smiled Surprenant, who consistently hurdled his goals this season, despite wearing a cast for the past three weeks. "I've been feeling better - no more throbbing in the arm. So I just want to go get another PR and a medal."
After running out of gas at the CCS semifinals as a junior, the Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo recruit will be running at the state track and field meet, May 30-31at Cerritos College in Norwalk.
Two Homestead seniors, girls pole vault champion Sarah Engle and boys high jump runner-up Steven Humer, will join Surprenant in representing the Fremont Union High School District and the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League's El Camino Division.
For Engle, who won CCS gold with a vault of 11-6 but has cleared 12-3, it will be the second trip to the state event. As a junior last season, Engle's fourth-place effort of 11-8 at CCS equaled the state meet qualifying standard.
"I'm looking forward to state again, because last year I didn't clear a height," said Engle, who will continue clearing heights next year for an Ivy League school, Columbia of New York City.
Marissa Engle, Sarah's freshman sister, earned a sixth-place medal at CCS, vaulting 10 feet.
Humer, in his first season on the track and field team, became the second CCS boy to clear 6-8 this season. He did it on his second attempt, moments after Riordan's Aaron Thompson cleared the height on his first try.
"I figured if Thompson could do it, then I could too," said Humer, who plans on high jumping for either West Valley College or De Anza, then transferring to a four-year university.
Humer, who played baseball for two seasons, then was ineligible as a junior, entered this spring with a best jump of 5-1, dating back to his days at Sunnyvale Middle School.
Four years later, standing 5-foot-11, he soared 6-6 in the first meet. Since then, though, he battled a stress fracture in his left shin while trying to reach the height again. He sailed over 6-6 on his first try last Friday, then nailed 6-8.
"He's worked through a lot of pain this season, so this was a nice moment for him," said coach Darrin Garcia, who tutors Humer and several other high jumpers from various schools.
Another of Garcia's pupils, Saratoga junior Kiersten Dolbec, won a gold medal last season. Unfortunately, Dolbec needed an emergency appendectomy procedure early last week, which prevented her from competing at Gilroy.
Los Altos junior Kristin Rimbach, who transferred from Prospect after her sophomore season, was one of four girls to qualify for state. Rimbach finished third with a mark of 5-5.
Monta Vista senior Helena Montin, one of Dolbec's training partners, jumped 5-0 and placed eighth in the event.
Four of Dolbec's Saratoga teammates, seniors Rachel and Nicole Sabes and juniors Katie and Claire Marsh, visited Dolbec before traveling to Gilroy to compete in the final girls event of the evening, the 1,600 relay.
The Falcon four blazed around the Gilroy track in a season best 4:01.84, but they finished fifth and did not qualify for state.
Saratoga juniors Alan Menezes and Kian Banks ran in the finals. Menezes placed 10th in the 1,600 in 4:26.67 and Banks placed eighth in the 800 at 2:01.08
Prospect sophomore Mariah Rogers placed fourth in the long jump with a leap of 17-2.