SACRAMENTO, Calif. -
Moments before the start of the boys’ 100-meter dash, a gentlemen midway up the tall bleachers near the finish line at historic Hughes Stadium made a loud and grandiose announcement.
He didn’t even need a microphone to draw plenty of attention.
“Here comes Frasier,” he bellowed. “Here comes Frasier. Here comes Frasier.”
The man – David Zielke, a math teacher at Jesuit in nearby – was there to cheer on Jesuit (Carmichael)
super track star R.J. Frasier
in the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Meet, the final qualifier into the state championships.
Frasier proceeded to give a performance indeed worth shouting about as he won two individual events, recorded a meet record and got the meet started in stirring fashion with one of the most electrifying 400 relay anchor legs in recent meet history.
The 5-foot-9, 160-pound senior, who has earned a track and field scholarship to UCLA, made up a 10-meter deficit to win going away in 41.49 seconds over Grant (Sacramento, Calif.)
, which ran a season-best 41.64.
Jesuit’s mark was the eighth best in the state this season and just missed the 24-year-old meet record of 41.24 set by Johnson.
It set the tone for Frasier’s loud and boisterous day, which also included a meet and personal record in the 300 intermediate hurdles (36.89) and a clean, dominating win in the 100 (10.74) against a strong (0.9) headwind.
“I really feed off the crowd,” Frasier said. “It gets me going, gets me excited. When I heard that ‘ooooo’ from the fans (in the relay), it really spurred me on. ”
Frasier is indeed is a showman and aware of his surroundings.
On this day he wore a Cookie Monster – from Sesame Street fame – T-shirt over his jersey to send himself a message. Though fun and playful on the outside, the shirt had a more determined reminder down deep.
“My motto today was to eat up the competition,” he said with a self-assured grin. “I’m always trying to find a way to keep me motivated and to stay both humble and hungry at the same time.”
He looked particularly driven in the 300 hurdles, an event he took fifth at last year at state.
But Frasier faced his longtime nemesis Dante Thomas, the defending SJS champion from Fairfield
, who finished third at state in 2009.
“We’re good friends off the track but big rivals on it,” Frasier said.
From lane four (Thomas was in lane five), Frasier got out extremely strong and despite a stutter before hurdle two – “that’s been my problem hurdle all year” – Frasier led from wire-to-wire with a dominating performance.
Thomas finished in 37.86, off of his 37.23 performance at state last year. Frasier’s time is the third best in the state this year, behind Monte Corley of Logan (Union City)
at 36.58 and Jonathan Cabral of Agoura
“I wanted to get under 37 so that feels real good,” Frasier said. “I was hoping for a better time in the 100, but it was pretty much mistake free. The wind was just really strong out there. I could really feel it (in the 100).”
Frasier has a personal best of 10.55 in the 100, just off the state best of 10.52, but the direct head breeze knocked down a fast field. Pleasant Grove (Elk Grove)
senior Jalen Saunders was second at 10.93 and the rest of the sprinters finished in the 11s.
“My goal is to get 10.4 and that’s what it will probably take to win state,” Frasier said. “I felt like I ran a lot better than 10.7 today. I’m not concerned so much with the time.
“Overall, it was a real good day. I could really feel my family and friends in the crowd and all their support.”
And everyone could hear Zielke, who often at school good-naturedly parrots the late legendary sportscaster Howard Cosell and his famous boxing call of George Foreman knocking out Joe Frazier in the 1970s: “Down goes Frazier. Down goes Frazier. Down goes Frazier.”
This Frasier, named after his father Ronald, has forced Zielke to change that call somewhat and around these parts doesn’t go down very often.
Next week, against the state’s best, will be a much bigger challenge, but one he’ll need to get used to.
Jesuit’s leading rusher on the football team, Frasier will focus only on track at UCLA, where he plans to study business and marketing.
“I like to sell stuff,” he said.
The goods he sold on Friday were definitely worth buying.
More goods from Friday’s meet: FAST YOUNG COMPANY:
Not only are two of Jesuit’s 400 relay runners sophomores – Julian Wallace and Loren Pilorin (senior Keven Brown is the fourth) – Grant will be a team to reckon with for at least three more years.
Of their six sprinters, four are freshmen: James Samples, Kaleb Smith, Terry Shine and Anthony Serreno. Throw in Shaquille Thompson
– the meet’s 200 winner who is only a sophomore – and Grant could be a state title contender in the next few years.
Thompson, by the way, is one of the nation’s most coveted football players from the Class of 2012. He’s a chiseled 6-1, 190-pound receiver and defense back and brother of Syd’Quan Thompson, an All-Pac-10 cornerback at Cal and seventh-round pick of the Broncos. BIG HELP FROM FRIEND:
Not often does a runner ask for help from an opponent in the heat of the fray, but 800 boys champion Jason Coupe not only asked but received.
senior was boxed in terribly during a highly contested final and with about 200 to go just screamed to Cordova (Rancho Cordova)
senior Josh Gruver “Josh, please let me out.” Gruver obliged, Coupe took off and won going away in an impressive time of 1:52.81, well ahead of Beyer (Modesto)
junior Sean Gomes (1:54.24).
Gruver finished last at 1:59.36.
“I owe Josh big time,” Coupe said. “He didn’t have to do that. But we’re friends so I just figured I could ask.”
Asked what he was thinking in the final lap while being completely boxed in: “I thought, ‘Ah crap, I’m out.’ “
Coupe reached the state meet last year but didn’t make it to the finals. His best time of 1:52.47 this year is the 11th best in the state.
“If I run like today, I think I can get to the finals,” Coupe said. “I just can’t get boxed in.” FAMILY TIES:
Short hurdle champions Chris Mamon, a senior at Benicia
, and Daje Pugh, a sophomore at Fairfield
aren’t related by blood, but they are practically siblings.
Pugh’s father Lewis Pugh has been Mamon’s youth track coach for more than a decade. Though two years apart and opposite sexes, the two have trained together for years.
“He’s like my brother,” Daje Pugh said. “I always tell him I can beat him, but I know deep down I can’t. I’d never tell him that.”
Against a stiff 1.9 headwind, Pugh overcame a slow start and then powered through to win the 100 hurdles easily in 14.28, well ahead of runner-up Tatum Souza of Napa
(14.88). She just missed out on her best legal mark of 14.26, which ranks 12th in the state.
Pugh later won the 300 hurdles in 43.47, well ahead of runner-up and teammate Alexandria Whitmore (44.53).
Mamon, against an even stiffer 2.3 wind, also won easily in 14.32 over Thomas (14.71). The 5-11, 175-pound specimen has the state’s fourth-best time at 14.14.
He also won the long jump at 22-9, just edging Galt’s Haran Piggee (22-6). Mamon owns the state’s fifth-best long jump at 23-6 he set during last week’s SJS Division II finals. GREAT PREP CAREER:
Jesse Stafford just missed out on reaching his first state meet in the pole vault. The Del Oro (Loomis)
senior placed fourth at 14-0, off from his personal best of 14-7, which would have earned him third on Friday and a state berth.
That’s what gnawed at Stafford the most. But it didn’t eat him up too much.
“I never put too much pressure on myself,” he said. “I just do my best and if I come up short, I come up short.”
Stafford rarely came up short on the wrestling mat during his four seasons at Del Oro, last year placing second at state in the 152-pound class. Last month at the Junior Fila Nationals in Ohio, against plenty of college wrestlers in the 20-under category, Stafford placed third in Greco-Roman and sixth in Freestyle.
He’ll wrestle for the Air Force Academy starting next season.
“I’m excited about getting to the next level,” he said. “My goal is to be a national champion.”
With such devotion to wrestling, it’s hard to imagine how he found time to excel at pole vault, let alone earn four varsity letters in cross country. That’s 12 varsity letters. That’s a lot of sweat.
He went to state cross country as part of Del Oro’s team, so it would have been nice to finish things up with an appearance in a third state meet.
The 5-11, 165-pounder wasn’t too upset because wrestling pushes his pole vault work so late. “I was clearing 15 feet at practice, but it’s hard to maintain real consistency in big meets like this with a lot less work,” he said. “It’s hard to put it all together.” Oak Ridge (El Dorado Hills)
senior Brian Hanson did that by clearing 15-6 to win the event over Davis
junior Ian Rock (15-0). Atwater
senior Kyle Maxwell was third at 14-3. MORE STANDOUTS:
Though Frasier stole Friday’s show, a teammate, senior weightman Jeremy Hines might have contended for male athlete of the meet, taking his second title in two days.
Hines won the discus with a lifetime best toss of 176-10 a day after winning the shot put (62-11) on Thursday. He already ranks No. 1 in the state in the latter event at 63-9?. His discus mark ranks 13th.
The 4.4 student will attend Stanford on a track scholarship next fall. His twin brother Josh will play college football next season at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
Other standouts: Inderkum (Sacramento)
senior Brittany Adams won both the 100 (12.16) and 200 (24.49). … Florin (Sacramento)
senior Anamanu Folau was disappointed with her effort in Thursday’s discus final, so she came back to win the shot put at 42-6. Other state-qualifiers Rebecca Hammar (Buhach Colony
, 41-3) and Brianna French (Vacaville
, 40-9) also broke 40 feet. … The girls 400 was one of the best races and featured three of the top 15 state-wide marks of the year. St. Mary's (Stockton)
junior Cierra Jordan won in 55.41, edging Oakmont (Roseville)
junior Jazmin Harper (55.57) and Rosemont (Sacramento)
freshman Nia Dorner (55.73). ...Rio Americano senior Lauren Mugaini outraced Lodi freshman Cassidy Daley in a terrific 3,200. Mugnaini won in 10:55.94, just edging Daley (10:56.53). … Nobody around the state will be shaking in their boots with the marks, but the boys 1,600 was a remarkably tight and good race. The top five finishers crossed within just more than one second. Del Campo (Fair Oaks)
junior Robert Pflasterer won in 4:20.50, edging Davis senior Bob Riestenberg (4:21.13), Manteca
senior Vincent Herrera (4:21.41), Fairfield senior Jared Lester (4:21.64) and Del Campo senior Josh Mercado (4:21.66).
For complete meet results, CLICK HERE.