Hilmar's Dani Olson and Pitman's Kiana Clay might go to different schools and compete in distinctive divisions but they have one thing in common—both reached the state trials for track and field this year at Buchanan High School on Friday.
Each coming off their respective top performances at the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Master's final just a week prior, Olson and Clay each had solid performances but when it was all said and done, however, neither were able to move on to the second day as they were eliminated in the trial round of state.
“It means a lot. I worked really hard for track,” Olson said. “I have given up a lot and I never thought I would get this far and it’s an accomplishment to achieve what I did and my hard work paid off.”
“Qualifying for state was a dream,” said Clay. “This year has surpassed my expectations. I have been working so hard for this for so long so to have it come true it was the best feeling in the world.”
As only a junior, Clay was coming off one of the hardest offseason regime workouts in her career.
“I had been training for the state meet my entire life,” said Clay. “This year going into the trials, I worked on my arm speed and forearm work as well as the start.”
Set with all the tools to succeed, Clay was able to top her 400 meter performance by dropping four seconds off her personal record in the master's finale with a time of 55.11, which essentially became her new personal best.
“I couldn’t break 59 for a while and I dropped four seconds this year and the rapid improvement was hard but I been working for this for so long,” Clay said. “So to have it come through it was the best feeling in the world.”
Eventually, Clay would finish in 19th place in the state trials on Friday with a time of 56.8.
“To me it’s awesome to represent my school while achieving a personal goal,” said Clay. “I had a great season and I did so well and I am anxious for next season and I am excited to be working for next season.”
Olson was able to get a taste of the top competition heading into the spring season after competing in the indoor track and field championships back in February.
Although Olson ended up in the bottom half of the standings, she learned some valuable lessons which in essence taught her how to achieve her goals.
Olson worked on her explosion in the start and it proved critical as she flourished in the 100 meter hurdle race with a time of 15.16 in the Master's final to best her time heading into the biggest race of her high school career.
The Hilmar native then ended up with a time of 15.80, which placed her in the 24th spot at the state trials.
“It was definitely overwhelming and it still wasn’t believable so I was kind of still in shock,” she said. “I was nervous, I was trying to stay calm because I knew if got nervous I would mess up but it was hard.”
Unfortunately Olson ended up making contact with the first hurdle which then slowed her down and in the end cost her an opportunity to advance into the finals.
“I was pretty bummed because I hit the first hurdle which slowed me down a lot but it was still a top four or five race for me so I was happy,” she added. “But I could have done better so it’s hard to be too upset with myself.”