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Canyon's Baxter sets high goals for CIF State meet

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Canyon girls pole vaulter Rachel Baxter is undefeated this season.

She is far from being unmotivated.

While going through a workout this week, she spoke about her somewhat lofty goals for this weekend’s CIF State Track and Field Championships in Clovis.

The junior, who leads the nation in the event, has set her sights on trying to win the state title and clearing 14 feet, 6 inches. Her lifetime best is 14-3.

The national high school record is 14-7½, set by Lexi Weeks of Cabot, Ark., in 2015.

The CIF State Championships get underway with the prelims on Friday. The championship-deciding events will be held Saturday.

Baxter and Marina’s Jett Gordon (17 feet, 2 inches) enter the weekend as the state’s leading vaulters, so a sweep of the event by county athletes is a strong possibility.

Baxter hopes it happens.

“That day at Orange County Championships where I cleared 14 (feet) and he cleared 17, it was super cool,” Baxter said. “I’m really excited to see what state brings and how high both of us can go.”

Mother Nature will likely have big a impact on meet. The temperature is expected to reach 105 degrees on Friday and 108 on Saturday.

The CIF State pushed back the start times of all events in an effort to improve the conditions for the athletes.

Dana Hills distance coach Tim Butler said he expects the heat to have the greatest impact on the athletes in the longer running events, but he stopped short of calling the weather a disadvantage.

“There are certain kids that are affected by the heat more than others,” Butler said. “Mentally, all three of my kids know that the other kids are running in the heat, too.

“It’s not a disadvantage. It’s just something that you have to deal with. It’s kind of a neutral thing.”

Dana Hills has Jake Ogden running in the 1,600 meters, and Mason Coppi and Jack Landgraf in the 3,200.

Tesoro’s Amanda Gehrich will attempt to win titles in two of the most challenginging races. She will seek to defend her state title in the 1,600 and capture the 3,200. In the 1,600, Gehrich recorded the fastest time in the nation (4:41.39) at last week’s CIF-SS Masters Meet.

San Clemente’s Connor Dunne is among the favorites in the 800. He leads the state this year with a time of 1:50.41.

Huntington Beach’s Cassie Durgy leads the county’s girls in the 800. Her season-best time of 2:09.35 is fifth in the state.

The UCLA signee has battled a virus for two weeks, but says she is ready to go.

“I know that I’m really hungry to go out quick,” she said. “I definitely want these last two races to be the best that I can possibly reach.”

Esperanza’s Bronson Osborn leads the state in the shot put (71-7¼) and discus (204-4).


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