CLOVIS -- They didnt just run a relay here late Saturday afternoon.
The Woodcreek High School foursome, bearing headbands and embracing all manner of expectations, ran a full gamut of emotions. Images of gold turned to profound disappointment, and then there was one more jolt: Victory.
Placing second in the 4x100 race on the Veterans Memorial track at the 96th CIF State Track and Field Championships only to be announced moments later as the winner, Woodcreek members jumped for joy in unison in matching the theme of a wildly entertaining and unpredictable conclusion to the prep season that included nine national-leading times. Three of those were by the Long Beach Poly girls to win the state team title behind 100 and 200 three-peat champion Ariana Washington.
Edison of Fresno broke the relay tape first but was disqualified for baton exchange and lane violations. Edisons joy and despair suddenly became Woodcreeks sensory overload with an official winning effort of 41.20 seconds.
And with a trip to the victory stand in front of an announced crowd of 9,123 sun-drenched fans came a deeper measure of achievement. The only other regional 400 relay champion is the 1986 Johnson Warriors. A member of that relay and now the Monterey Trail coach, Larry King, sought out the Woodcreek relay team of Alex Rotteveel, Tyus Williamson, Aspyn Walton and Colton George to offer sincere congratulations.
Edisons weakness the exchanges was Woodcreeks strength. The Timberwolves didnt have anyone in the state 100 or 200 finals, but, collectively, they sizzled. They came into the meet with the states fastest time of 40.93 and vowed to take home the gold.
We did it! yelped Timberwolves coach Marco Hanan, holding onto the baton. We have the best handoffs in the state. Were not necessarily the four fastest guys in the state, but we have the best relay. The handoffs, timing, all that adds up and pays off. It takes such detail and discipline with those exchanges. From the Sierra Foothill League finals to here, thats seven times in a row we had to do it just right, with no room for error.
George took a knee on the infield grass after the race, thinking hed been beaten by a hair. He congratulated the Edison runners, thinking theyd won.
All the emotions, it was insane, George said. We wanted first, got second, got a break with the DQ. But weve never done anything in these meets to kill our races. Weve been very consistent.
Not that this looks like a group of burners. No one wears headbands in this sport, and thats why the Timberwolves do it to be unique. Each runner is lanky and decidedly determined.
No one looks at us and thinks, Oh, wow. Look at them. Insane! George said. Were a misnomer. But we turn our game faces on and just go.
Woodcreek was the only local winner, but three second-place finishers bowed out feeling plenty triumphant.
Del Oro junior Melissa Maneatis took silver in the pole vault at 12 feet, 4 inches. The state leader coming in, Greta Wagner of Los Gatos, won with a lifetime best of 13-01/4.
Im very happy to be here and what I did, Maneatis said. I feel really good. I made it here, and thats big.
Grant junior Darrin Paulo lost out by inches in the discus but was elated with his lifetime best of 184 feet, 2 inches. Rocky Fenton of San Clemente won at 184-10.
Oh, yeah, Im very happy, said Paulo, a national football recruit as a 6-foot-6 tackle. My goal now is 200 feet.
A year ago, his goal was to be able to spin in the discus ring. Because of a knee injury, Paulo wasnt able to spin, but he was able to muscle throws of 170 feet.
Folsom senior Austin Carter dove at the finish to take second in the 300 hurdles in a personal-best 37.12. Marquis Morris of De La Salle defended his title in 36.86.
I dont like coming in second, Carter said, standing next to his friend, Morris, but in this environment, Ill take it.
The St. Francis relay team placed third in the 4x400 relay in a school-record best of 3 minutes, 45.02 seconds with an underclass foursome of Ariane Arndt, Kiani Reyna, Lilly Enes and Sydney Hunter. St. Francis senior Lauren LaRocco was fifth in the 3,200 in 10:23.10, a school record.
Sheldon junior Cameron Stone, the state leader in the 400 coming in, placed seventh in a loaded field with a 47.67. He led at the final turn.
Stone ran a leg on Sheldons 4x400 relay that took third in a school-record best 3:14.10. Long Beach Poly won in a national-leading 3:11.86.
Follow Joe Davidson on Twitter @SacBee_JoeD.