CLOVIS, Calif. —
When the track official shot his gun — signaling a violation — and approached lane 5, many fans toward the finish line stood and booed.
It couldn't be.
Not to T.J. Brock.
The 6-foot-1, 160-pound junior blur from Chaminade (West Hills, Calif.)
is the nation's fastest sprinter. At least if you count a couple of wind-aided 10.20-second times in the 100 meters.
His best legal mark is 10.42, but many of the loud and loyal 7,992 high school track and field fans at Buchanan (Clovis)
High School — site of the 97th California State Championships trials — came specifically to watch Brock sprint.
An official didn't like the length of time it took for Brock to get in his blocks. And he threatened to disqualify him.
That's what got fans booing and Brock sweating.
"I was scared," he admitted. "More like petrified."
The official gave Brock just a warning and he heeded it, got in the blocks swiftly, then bolted Usain style to a 10.47 heat win and the top time of the day. He'll be running in the middle of the track Saturday.
The next fastest time was Northern California standout John McDonald, of Lincoln (Stockton)
, who ran 10.56 followed by fellow Sac-Joaquin Section standout Nate Jones of Tracy (10.73).
But clearly Brock is the favorite. He was close to finished, but a horrible nightmare was avoided. Or perhaps a riot.
"I've been DQ'd before but never warned," he said. "I've never heard of getting into the blocks too slow. "
How did he block out the ruckus and focus on winning?
"Honestly you just have to get past it," he said. "You definitely play it safe after that and make sure you don't upset the officials."
Other than the brief scare, it was a fantastic day for Brock, who opened the meet by anchoring Chaminade to the day's best time in the 400 relay (40.87). He also won his heat in the 200 at 21.16, but had the second best time to national leader Michael Norman of Vista Murrieta (Murrieta)
The showdown between Brock and Norman is the most anticipated event heading into Saturday's finals. Temperatures, often soaring into triple digits this time of year, were comfortably in the high 80s. The same is forecast for Saturday.
"The 200 is a definite even playing field where the 400 people can come down and the sprinters can go up and they can all duke it out," Brock said.
And that's exactly what the fans want to come out and see. Brock, who finished fourth in the 200 last year, called the atmosphere at Buchanan like running "in the Olympics."
A defensive back and wide receiver on the football team, Brock said he's neither a football player just trying to get fast nor a sprinter trying to bulk up and get recognized on the gridiron.
"I don't have a number one," he said. "I do both evenly. When it's football season, I'm fully committed to football and when I'm running track, I'm fully committed to track."
Other highlights or noteworthy happenings on a first day that featured only one significant mishap to a national leader.
* The girls 800 heats, though not providing a top-10 national mark, did produce the fastest collective final in state history. A staggering 13 runners broke 2:10, meaning the No. 13 performer, Notre Dame (San Jose) senior Juliana Mount ran 2:09.55 and didn't make the finals. The best of the bunch was Etiwanda
sophomore Jacquelyn Hill, who went 2:08.06.
* The girls 100 final, led by No. 1 qualifier Zaria Francis, a junior at Rio Mesa (Oxnard)
(11.52), will feature nine who all broke 12.0 flat, also believed to be a first. Francis was the only female top qualifier in two events after going 23.51 in the 200.
* The only male double top qualifier was the remarkable Norman, who is the meet's top headliner. He also qualified first in the 400, cruising to victory in 47.05. Look for him to go after the national lead of 45.75.
* Vista Murrieta coaches were almost smothered with egg on their faces for deciding to rest Norman in the 4x400 relay, which has a season best of 3:13.09, the sixth best mark in the country. With Norman resting, Vista Murrieta had the ninth and final qualifying time of 3:18.52, and only advanced because Deer Valley (Antioch), which won its heat, was disqualified for a lane violation.
"Just as we planned," a chagrinned Vista Murrieta coach said.
* It didn't work out so well for the girls 4x400 team at Oaks Christian, which entered with the second best qualifying mark and 13th best in the country (3:45.62) but failed to advance. Oaks Christian rested two of its top runners and finished fourth in its heat (3:51.57) and 11th overall. The girls had the day's top 400 relay mark.
* National boys shot put leader Matt Katnik, of St. John Bosco (Bellflower)
, unleashed a top mark of 71-5¾, which drew a major buzz throughout the crowd. It was just off his best of 72-3.
* Lincoln (San Francisco)
senior Ibrahima Mobley entered the final 300 hurdles heat with the slowest entrance time (41.09) by more than 1.5 seconds, but came flew past everyone from lane one to win in a San Francisco Section record 37.59 seconds, which is third overall. Mobley had run 38.49 earlier in the year, but was ill during section finals, thus his slower time.
"Being here (at state meet) is a different world," said Mobley, who had to relieve himself while coughing into his warm-up jacket several times. "All day I got myself into an aggressive mind-set. When I got here I had to growl at myself to run strong, attack every hurdle. It all paid off."CIF State Track and Field ChampionshipsTrials at Buchanan High School, ClovisTop qualifiers in each event
TJ Brock (Chaminade) 10.47200:
Michael Norman (Vista Murrieta) 20.98400:
Michael Norman (Vista Murrieta) 47.05; 800:
Isaac Cortes, Great Oak (Temecula)
Ross Walker, Del Campo (Fair Oaks)
Justin Collins, Carson
Connor Meech, San Juan Hills (San Juan Capistrano)
Chaminade 40.871600 relay: Woodrow Wilson (Long Beach)
Sean Lee, Trabuco Hills (Mission Viejo)
Jett Gordon, Marina (Huntington Beach)
Joey Souza, Kingsburg
Seth Brooks, (Kingsburg) 47-5¾
Matt Katnik, (St. John Bosco) 71-5¾
Tyler Merkley, Los Osos (Rancho Cucamonga)
Zaria Francis (Rio Mesa) 11.52200:
Francis (Rio Mesa) 23.51400:
Hannah Waller, Buchanan (Clovis)
Jacquelyn Hill, (Etiwanda) 2:08.061600:
Destiny Collins, Great Oak (Temecula)
Jasmyne Graham, Roosevelt (Eastvale)
Dani Johnson , Cathedral Catholic (San Diego)
Oaks Christian 45.791600 relay: Saint Mary's (Albany)
Erinn Beattie, Buena (Ventura)
Rachel Baxter, Canyon (Anaheim)
Courtney Corrin, Harvard-Westlake (Studio City)
Tara Davis, (Agoura (Agoura)
Elena Bruckner, Valley Christian (San Jose)
Kendall Mader, Newbury Park