CLOVIS Cordova's Nia Dorner learned well from last year's 400-meter race at the CIF State Track and Field Championships.
Dorner finished second in that race, losing when Serra of Gardena's Renetia James ran her down in the final 20 meters and missing out on a chance at history.
On the same Buchanan High School track Saturday, Dorner turned on the jets in the final 100 meters to easily overtake Serra's Chimere Ezumah, winning the 400 in a national No. 2 and lifetime-best 53.0 seconds and becoming the first girls sprint champion in area and Sac-Joaquin Section history.
"It's an amazing feeling," said Dorner, who also finished fourth in the 200 (23.82). "... I felt a lot faster this time than I did last year. That was due to hard work and determination."
Ezumah, who won the 400 state title as a freshman in 2010, led for almost three-quarters of the race before watching Dorner blow by her in the final turn.
"I didn't get out as fast as I could have," said Dorner, who wanted to run under 53 seconds after going 53.12 in Friday's preliminaries. "But I knew I had more strength, so I was able to pull away."
Even demanding personal sprint coach David Lawrence, who has worked with Dorner since the sixth grade, was impressed.
"To run 53.12, then 53 flat on back-to-back days is a prime example of the strength that she has," Lawrence said. "I know it was a goal of hers to come back here and vindicate herself as the No. 1 400-meter sprinter in California.
"Last year, she walked out of here with a chip on her shoulder. Like I told her (Saturday) morning, 'You are going to create your memories today. Do you want a good memory or a great memory?' She looked right at me and said, 'I'm taking nothing less than winning a championship.' "
In other area highlights:
Jesuit's Austin Mitsch and Antelope's Robert Ellis ended their high school careers and rivalry with different emotions and results in the boys 200.
Mitsch ran a lifetime-best 21.3 to take third behind repeat state champion Khalfani Muhammad (20.86) of Notre Dame Sherman Oaks and runner-up Morgan Simon (21.17) of Loyola-Los Angeles.
But Ellis, the two-time Sac-Joaquin Section Masters champion who ran a 21.37 the night before, pulled a hamstring early in the race. To his credit, he limped to the finish line in 1:09.78, garnering a huge ovation from the announced crowd of 8,672.
"Good for him," said Mitsch, who was waiting for Ellis at the finish line. "I had to be there for him. He's my brother, my competitor."
Mitsch also placed sixth in the 100 (10.68), earning a second medal as a top-six finisher.
"It's a fun experience," Mitsch said. "These are some of the best in the nation, so what an honor to run with these guys. ... It was a pretty emotional weekend, putting on my uniform for the last time."
Xavier Howell's breakthrough season of high jumping came to a disappointing end.
The Center senior finished fifth with a best of 6-7. He went into the meet as the state leader at 7 feet.
Howell cleared 6-5 and 6-7 without missing but failed to clear 6-9 on his three attempts.
"My timing was off," Howell said. "I was over the bar on all my jumps, but I was dragging my feet."
Carter of Rialto's Eric Moore finished first at 6-11.
Harvard-bound Madeleine Ankhelyi of Vista del Lago capped her high school career with a sixth-place finish (10:26.95) in the girls 3,200.
Call The Bee's Bill Paterson, (916) 326-5506.