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Pitman's Sanders survives first day of state meet, earns finals spot
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It wasn't his personal best, but it was close.

So very close.

But in his sports' biggest stage, Pitman High senior discus thrower Markus Sanders couldn't have been more pleased, considering the opportunity he created for himself at the CIF State Championships at Buchanan High's Veterans Memorial Stadium in Clovis on Friday afternoon. His throw of 180 feet, 6 inches — a half-foot from his personal best — was enough to finish sixth among California's elite throwers.

Because he finished in the top nine, he advances to today's finals at the same stadium.

The top thrower on Friday was Clovis East High's Willy Irwin, who finished with a 208-10. No competitor came close to his mark, with runner-up Jacob Budwig of Fowler High producing a 189-04 while El Diamante's Brice Sandri's 185-11 was enough for third. Rounding out the top five were St. Augustine High's Thomas Hart (184-08) and Frontier High's Matt Darr (181-11).

Sander's goal now is to earn a medal by placing in the top three, as he will have six more attempts to do so with everyone starting even today at 6:30 p.m.

He could put himself in a historic group, as the last discus competitor from Turlock to place at the state meet was Edmund Vierra, who took fourth in 1926. The last Turlock male athlete to finish in the top six was Larry Maggard, a fifth-place finisher in the shot put in 1962.

Sanders had also put himself in an elite group in Pitman history, as he's the third track and field athlete to compete at the state meet for the Pride. Polly Gnepa, a hurdler, and Elizabeth Boydston, a triple jumper, were the other two.

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