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Roy-Williams, McFarlane medal at state track championships
Shaylan Roy-Williams 1
Turlock senior Shaylan Roy-Williams jumped 19 feet, 4 inches and set a new personal record at the 2024 CIF State Track & Field Championships on Saturday (SAMANTHA SCHMIDT/The Journal).

CLOVIS — Just as the sun began to dip below the line of trees that frame Buchanan High’s Veterans Memorial Stadium on Saturday, so too did the sun set on Max McFarlane’s high school career.

Turlock High’s senior pole vaulter, who finished second in the state as junior, wrapped up his final high school track and field meet by finishing fifth in the state after clearing a height of 15 feet, 8 inches.

Classmate Shaylan Roy-Williams, a senior long-jumper making her second consecutive trip the CIF Track and Field Championships, started her event earlier in the day and competed wholly in brilliant sunshine.

Max McFarlane 1
With a vault of 15 feet, 8 inches, Max McFarlane landed in fifth place at the 2024 CIF State Track & Field Championships (SAMANTHA SCHMIDT/The Journal).

Her result was a sunny and bright third-place finish, a seismic improvement after failing to qualify for the finals at last year’s state meet.

“(Friday) was a bit rough; I had just come home from Disneyland at 3 in the morning,” said Roy-Williams, who made it to Saturday’s finals with a leap of 18-1 3/4 despite attending Grad Night festivities at the Happiest Place on Earth the night before. “Nothing was really working properly; and my thigh, I think it’s pulled a bit, so that was hard. But I knew what I wanted and I knew what my potential is. So, I was visualizing and being positive with myself. I knew what I can do, and I did it. It’s as simple as that.”

On Saturday, Roy-Williams uncorked a leap of 19-4 — her personal best — and was in first place for the first round.

Alyssa Alumbres of Vista Murietta (Murietta) took over the lead in the second round with her 19-5 1/2, only to see state-leader Loren Webster of Wilson (Long Beach) take the lead for good with her leap of 20-5 1/4.

“What really helped me is just focusing on myself,” said Roy-Williams, who said she anticipated Webster would deliver a 20-footer. “I can’t control what the other girls jump; I can only control what I do.”

Roy-Williams knew that her first jump was a big one.

Shaylan Roy-Williams 2
Shaylan Roy-Williams placed third in the long jump at the 2024 CIF State Track & Field Championships (SAMANTHA SCHMIDT/The Journal).

“I didn’t know it was 19-4, but I was very happy to hear it was,” said Roy-Williams, who will compete for Modesto Junior College next season. “Everything felt right and I knew it was going to be a good jump.”

McFarlane, meanwhile, was one of 11 vaulters who qualified Friday with an effort of 15-6. 

The field was thinned quickly Saturday as three vaulters failed to clear 15-2. Four more were bounced when the bar went up to 15-8.

McFarlane’s first attempt at 15-8 was barely more than a dry run, and he cleared it easily on his second attempt to join four others trying to get over 16-0.

McFarlane and Joey Wiseman both were eliminated, but Wiseman got fourth place by virtue of needing fewer attempts to clear 15-8.

Kai Anderson of University City (San Diego) took first place with a leap of 16-8, followed by Pittsburg’s Khaliq Muhammad at 16-4. Michael Payan of Whitney (Rocklin) was third with a 16-0.

McFarlane said he was mixed on whether he was disappointed with his state meet performance.

“Yes and no,” said the 6-foot-3, 185-pounder who will be competing in Korea at the Busan International Pole Vault Meeting in June. “Yes, I would have liked to have won the state championship; and no because it’s not like I was jumping that badly.”

Max McFarlane 2
Turlock senior Max McFarlane placed fifth in pole vault at the 2024 CIF State Track & Field Championships (SAMANTHA SCHMIDT/The Journal).

As McFarlane progresses in his vaulting career — he’ll attend the U.S. Air Force Academy on a scholarship and starts boot camp in July — he’ll need to move up to bigger poles.

Scientifically speaking, bigger, stiffer poles push the apex of the jump closer to the front of the pit.

But in the simplest terms …

“I’m scared,” said McFarlane. “One, I’m scared and, two, those poles are really expensive.”

McFarlane likened the switch to bigger poles to jumping from one rooftop to another that are inches apart, then trying to jump from rooftop to rooftop when the houses are yards apart. It takes a little time to work up the nerve to make such a leap.

“I really need to be on those bigger poles,” said McFarlane, who was competing in his third consecutive state meet. “But I’ve got four or five more years of jumping left.”