Isaiah Holmes has a clever nickname, befitting his style and flair: “Prince of Flight.”
The Oakmont High School senior uses it on his Twitter account. The moniker came from an article by Steven Wilson, sports editor of the Press Tribune of Roseville.
Fiona O’Keeffe has no such catchy tag, per her quiet, unassuming nature. But if the Davis senior did have one, it might be “Classic Cruiser.” She is the most accomplished distance runner in regional prep history, winning with style and grace in grueling races.
I’m very happy with what I’ve done. I definitely feel like everything lined up great, and I feel really lucky. I wanted to give it everything I had since it was my last race for Davis.
Davis senior Fiona O’Keeffe
Holmes and O’Keeffe bounded into the 98th CIF State Track and Field Championships over the weekend in Clovis determined to reach the medal stand. They represented the region’s best hopes of winning gold in a meet often dominated by the sheer talent and depth of Southern California athletes.
Both were victorious, Holmes in the long jump and O’Keeffe in the 3,200 meters, and both made history.
Holmes collected four medals, three for events and the other a CIF Sportsmanship honor. The UCLA-bound Holmes prevailed in the long jump at 25 feet, 0 1/2 inch and stands as the 2016 national prep leader in the event. He also placed fifth in the high jump at 6-8 and fifth in the triple jump at 48-0 3/4 . Holmes is the seventh regional athlete to win the state long jump.
Holmes was the only Sac-Joaquin Section male athlete to win state gold Saturday.
“I’m very proud, very relieved, because it’s hard to win. There are so many great athletes,” he said. “Those guys are so good. I can’t express how happy I am with what I’ve done.”
O’Keeffe was emotional and spent after capping her stellar prep career. She exacted a measure of revenge in her eight-lap specialty, reversing a finish from last year, but per her humble nature, she didn’t dwell on it.
O’Keeffe won in sizzling fashion, fitting since the distance races were pushed back later into the evening to avoid the 106-degree daytime temperature. The Stanford-bound O’Keeffe didn’t mind, cruising home to victory in 10 minutes, 12.02 seconds. She raced past Destiny Collins of Great Oak of Temecula to win comfortably a year after Collins edged O’Keeffe for the title. Collins was second this time in 10:23.79.
O’Keeffe became the first Sacramento-area girl to win a state race other than the 400 or 800, and she is just the third local runner to win a race. Her time Saturday was the fourth fastest in state meet history. O’Keeffe bows out with three CIF State titles, two in cross country and this one, the most taxing race on the menu.
“I’m very happy with what I’ve done,” O’Keeffe said. “I definitely feel like everything lined up great, and I feel really lucky. I wanted to give it everything I had since it was my last race for Davis.”
And her thoughts on the medal stand, awash in emotion?
“It was surreal,” she said. “I was thinking of the year before, when I was second, and not being satisfied.”
Holmes and O’Keeffe will return to Clovis on June 24-26 for the USA Junior National Outdoor Championships. Holmes will compete in the 57th Golden West Invitational on Saturday at Oak Ridge High.
I’m very proud, very relieved, because it’s hard to win. There are so many great athletes. Those guys are so good. I can’t express how happy I am with what I’ve done.
Oakmont senior Isaiah Holmes
Other area girls medalists:
▪ Del Oro sophomore Cathilyn McIntosh was second in the 800 in 2:07.98. St. Francis senior Ariane Arndt finished third in a school-record 2:08.62.
▪ Davis sophomore Olivia O’Keeffe, Fiona’s sister, was third in the 1,600 in 4:48.66.
▪ Sacramento junior Rae’vyn Lawler was sixth in the 100 in 11.82.
Other area boys medalists:
▪ Pleasant Grove senior MacLean Connor was third in the 300 hurdles in 37.20.
▪ Seniors Jacob Bowler of Del Oro and Travis Kartz of Granite Bay tied for third in the pole vault at 15-8.
▪ Antelope junior Myles Ellis was fourth in the 400 in 47.25.
▪ Davis junior Michael Vernau was fourth in the 3,200 in 8:54.58.
▪ Davis senior Willie Hall was fifth in the 800 in 1:52.92.