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Sanders' discus throw lands him state spot
Senior highlights Pitman's run at Masters
PHS track pic1
Pitman High's Kelsee Derr, left, competes in the 100-meter hurdles at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Meet at Hughes Stadium in Sacramento. Next to her is Del Oro High's Lauren Anderson.
SACRAMENTO — Right around 4 p.m. Friday, Pitman High senior Markus Sanders had the jitters running all over his body.
In 90 minutes, his 2010 graduating class was about to take stage some 90 miles away from the discus-throwing pit he was standing on at Sacramento City College's Hughes Stadium.
And in his hand was his last shot at next week's CIF State Championships.
This was it. He had one final throw in the first round of the discus at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Meet, with time being one of his main challenges.
His first attempt was 126 feet, which was far below from his personal best of 181.
“From then,” he said, “I was mad.”
It got worse: His second throw was — uh-oh! — a scratch.
That meant he had one final chance to reach the state qualifying mark of 169 feet, 1 inch. He didn't want to reach the finals, especially when it meant he had to stay longer. Knowing all this, he launched the discus with all his strength.
It landed all the way at the state meet.
His mark of 170-2 was enough to be one of four state qualifiers in the event, in addition to being the only Turlock area athlete bound for Buchanan High in Clovis to compete on California's most elusive track and field stage on June 4-5.
“The way it worked out, it came down to his last throw,” Pitman track coach Thad Moren said. “He had to get it out there. He had to find that throw inside of him.”
Sanders learned that good news traveled fast once he got back to Turlock. Classmates in their caps and gowns congratulated him, as did his family and friends at Pitman High's quad area. He became the school's first state competitor since Polly Gnepa and Elizabeth Boydston last did it in the boys 300-meter hurdles and girls triple jump, respectively, in 2005.
So what was going through Sanders' mind before his final attempt?
“I was nervous,” he said. “I was thinking to myself, 'I didn't come all the way for nothing. I wasn't going to waste my coaches' time.' ”
He thought about all the practices he put in. He thought about all the time his coaches — including discus coach Kris Shaw — worked on his technique and he didn't want to disappoint them. He admitted that he prayed.
Once it landed on the ground, Moren knew it was enough. He had seen this event plenty of times at the stadium the past few years and the coach calculated in his head the distance. Immediately, he told Coach Shaw, before the official announcement, to fire up the team van and take the senior to his graduation.
By then, it was around 4:30 p.m., just enough time.

Other Pitman results
Pitman sophomore Erica Sickert was once again close to reaching state meet.
But she fell short of the goal, finishing with a distance of 36-6 3/4 to finish sixth in the shot put.
In order to make the state meet, athletes had to either finish in the top three of their respective events or surpass a qualifying mark or time.
Other Pitman athletes competed, too.
Freshman Kelsee Derr finished 13th in the preliminaries of the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 16.29 seconds. In the Pride's other individual event, Caitlin O'Connell did not clear her height in the high jump.
Pitman had two relay teams at the Masters meet. The 4x100-meter team (Jasmine Roberson, Aman Hundal, Kelsee Derr and Hailey Stroud) clocked 51.16 to take 18th in the preliminary heats, while the 4x400 squad (Roberson, Hundal, Vickie Rouse and Victoria Alvarado) took 14th in 4:11.29, also in the preliminaries.
To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.