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CIF-SOUTHERN SECTION TRACK AND FIELD MASTERS MEET: Norwalk’s Diaz, Valley Christian’s Fua qualify for state preliminaries

By Loren Kopff
@LorenKopff on Twitter


GOING TO CLOVIS :Norwalk High senior Misty Diaz (far left, #12) is staying close with the pack as she competes in the 1600-meter run in last Saturday’s California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section Masters Meet. Diaz ran a 4:51.21 and qualified for this evening’s state preliminaries in Clovis. Photo By Armando Vargas.


TORRANCE-For a pair of area track and field athletes, today, and possibly Saturday, will mark as far as they could go in their high school careers. Based on qualifying times or marks, Norwalk High senior Misty Diaz and Valley Christian High senior Gavin Fua have advanced to the California Interscholastic Federation State Track and Field Championships in Clovis. The preliminaries will be tonight with the finals on Saturday, both at Buchanan High.

Diaz, who barely qualified for the last Saturday’s Masters Meet at El Camino College in the 1600-meter run with a time of 4:55.45, posted a time of 4:51.21, good enough for eighth place. The top six in her event automatically qualified for the state preliminaries. However, the state qualifying time in this event was 4:56.02. Diaz will be making another visit to the Central Valley as she finished in sixth place in the Division 2 cross country state championships last fall.

“It’s really exciting to go to state for track as well because I’ve never gone there before,” Diaz said. “Last year I tried to get there, but I got really nervous and I got a really bad time. I was really devastated. I tried to control my emotions more when it came to big races because I would always get nervous.”

“It’s all part of the process,” said Norwalk head coach Ralph Casas. “We’ve been planning since her freshman and sophomore years to get her here, to move her onto state. We thought we would have a better shot in the 800. But last week, she came in with a really bad fever and she was lucky enough to qualify in the 1600. I let her run the 800 because she wanted to. She did her best, but with a fever and a sore throat and barely able to speak, she didn’t move on. But this is a dream come true for her.”

Diaz becomes the school’s first distance runner dating as far back as 1965 to advance to the state preliminaries. In 2008, Cindy Robinson competed in the state prelims in the 100-meter dash. Out of 42 runners statewide who have advanced to this evening’s event, Diaz has the 11thbest time in the 1600.

Diaz spent most of the race in the middle of the 12-runner pack, before falling towards the end. But in the final 200 meters or so, Diaz made her move back towards the middle. When the race had finished, the gap between seventh place and 11thplace was roughly two and half seconds.

“My strategy was to stay with the pack, stay with the group,” Diaz said. “It was really helpful because all of the girls were in a huge pack for three laps and they were working as hard as I was and it was really helpful to have the girls around me, and really close.”

“Maybe not the smartest movements, given where she was,” Casas said. “But it showed me that she didn’t want to lose. She was really going for that top seven spot all the way to the finish. This was a pretty big [personal record] for her. We were shooting for 4:50.”

Diaz will be attending California Polytechnic San Luis Obispo in the fall where she plans to compete in the 800-meter run and possibly the mile and 5K.

At the same time Diaz was running her race, Fua was in the middle of his six throws in the discus. Shooting for his personal record mark of 180-8 which he accomplished this past season at the Mt. San Antonio College relays, Fua threw 174-8 on his first throw, which qualified him for this evening’s prelims.


Valley Christian High senior Gavin Fua lets go of the discus during last Saturday’s California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section Maters Meet. Fua qualified for tonight’s state preliminaries with a mark of 174-8, which he accomplished on the first of his six attempts. Photo by Armando Vargas.


“I’m extremely excited,” Fua said. “It was pretty much my season goal. As soon as I qualified, I was just trying to chase a [personal record] after that. It didn’t work out very well.”

“I don’t feel there was necessarily added pressure,” said V.C. first-year throws coach Will Truong. “Gavin performs very well under pressure. With that said, it’s been a little shaky week of practice and we just have to keep drilling away and doing the correct things to do better.”

Again, the top six throwers advance to the state prelims, as well as any who reach the state qualifying mark of 168-11. Half of the field had already qualified after their first throw. Fua would foul on his next three throws before throwing 169-3 and 165-8 on his final two attempts. At the divisional championships, Fua reached 177-1. He will enter this evening’s prelims with the ninth best mark in the state out of 28 who advanced.

“It’s a totally different group, but I follow these guys a lot,” Fua said. “It really doesn’t affect me that much.”

“We always try to throw a PR every week,” Truong said. “We always try to do the best he can and I want to see him at least put in that effort. When you put in too much effort, technically it kind of goes out the window when you don’t think about that.

“It’s an honor just to have an athlete as him and honestly, the track program at Valley has been very supportive since I’ve come on board,” Truong later said. “Honestly, I can’t thank them enough. It’s an honor to be working with him.”

Earlier in the Masters Meet, Cerritos High senior Destin Flucas failed at his bid to move on to the state prelims in the high jump. Flucas, who also excelled on the basketball court during the winter, jumped a 6-4 to finish in a tie for seventh place. Two jumpers reached 6-8 and four more got as high as 6-6, which was the state qualifying mark. Flucas cleared 6-2 and 6-4 respectively on the first attempt, but failed in three attempts.at 6-6.