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Pitman's Sanders remains cool, collected as state meet approaches
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Things can't get any better for Markus Sanders, the Pitman High senior discus thrower.

His week isn't filled with classes and homework and all that comes with being a high school student.

His worries are limited, considering that he's officially a high school graduate after going through the motions of commencement last week.

Sanders' main focus is this weekend's CIF Track and Field State Championships at Buchanan High in Clovis, where he will be the only Turlock resident competing in the prestigious event. But he's not one of those athletes who are just happy to be there; he wants to compete.

“I'm feeling pretty good right now,” he said.

He practiced at Modesto Junior College earlier this week, and he landed a mark of 175 feet. He believes that if he can add about five feet to that distance on the first day of the state meet on Friday afternoon, he should advance onto the finals the following day.

Sanders has been looking forward to the state meet since qualifying for it last Friday, when he threw 170 feet, 2 inches at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters in Sacramento. Immediately after that throw, he had to race back to Turlock to join his 2010 graduating class at Pitman High.

And now, he's all business.

“I have a lot more time to just relax and keep comfortable and start thinking about Friday,” he said. “School's over so there's not that much stress.”

Sanders is only the third Pitman athlete to qualify for the state meet since the school opened in 2002.

Polly Gnepa, who's now at UC Davis, did it in 2004 and 2005 in 110-meter hurdles and 300-meter hurdles, respectively.

Elizabeth Boydston competed in the triple jump in 2005, along with Gnepa.

What's also special about Sanders' state meet appearance is that he can alter history. According to research done by Pitman track coach Thad Moren, the last Turlock male athlete to finish in the top six at the state meet was Larry Maggard, who took fifth in the shot put in 1962.

And the last discus thrower to place was Edmund Vierra, who had a fourth-place showing in 1926.

But Sanders can only focus on his throws, something he will scrutinize this week by watching and analyzing videos of his technique. On Friday, along with Moren, Sanders will be supported by his mother and sister at the Buchanan High stadium.

He needs to finish in the top nine after Friday, in order to compete the following day.

Moren said Sanders has proven since the beginning of the track season that he's a consistent threat.

“I think Markus has been consistent all season,” Moren said. “He's been consistently throwing 170. He has thrown that in eight competitions. I don't think there'll be competitors out there who have been that consistent with that mark.”

“A little bit of adrenaline of being at the state meet,” the coach added, “will help him throw a little further.”

To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.