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Cochran, Crampton confident going into state meet
Newport Harbor senior thrower Ethan Cochran and Canyon senior high jumper Cody Crampton have enjoyed two of the most decorated careers in county history in their respective events.
Both will look to successfully defend their state titles and continue their ascent up the county all-time record book at the CIF State Track and Field Championships on Friday and Saturday at Buchanan High in Clovis.
Cochran, the state’s reigning discus champion, has enjoyed another dominant season this spring. He enters the meet undefeated, and his lifetime best - 209-8 at the Arcadia Invitational in April - has him ranked No. 1 in the state and No. 2 in the country.
He is fourth on the county’s all-time list. Former Huntington Beach thrower Scott Moser set the county’s all-time mark with a throw of 213-11 in 1997. Former Newport Harbor standout Bo Taylor holds the school record and is No. 2 in county history with a throw of 213-7 in 2006.
“I just have stay relaxed,” Cochran said. “If I can start out good, then I have a good chance on building off that.”
San Clemente senior Quaid Vuncannon, who qualified for the Arizona state meet last season, will make his first appearance at the California state meet after finishing third at the CIF-SS Masters Meet. He currently has the second best throw among county competitors this season and is No. 5 in the state.
“Coming from Arizona, the competition here is crazy, and being able to do as well as I have been doing is awesome,” Vuncannon said. “For me, the preparation is mental and I just need to stay focused and work on the technique.”
Newport Harbor senior Steve Michaelsen (No.3 in the county and No. 8 in the state) will make his second consecutive appearance at the state meet.
Cochran is also the top shot putter in the state this season, with a lifetime best of 62-10 at the Arcadia Invitational.
"I just have to hit the proper technique,” Cochran said. “If I can lock myself and push through, the shot put is going to go.”
He will be joined by Servite senior Connor Einck and Sailors junior Marty Taylor.
Crampton, who soared to a lifetime best of 6-11 in his state title-winning effort a season ago, tied that clearance earlier this season. A 6-10¼ effort to win last week’s CIF-SS Masters Meet has the UCLA-bound Crampton poised to become the seventh jumper in county history to clear 7 feet.
“I won’t worry about anyone else because the only thing that I have to compete against is the bar,” Crampton said. “Because of the experience factor, I’m going into the meet this year with more confidence.”
Mission Viejo junior Sage Stone has a lifetime best of 6-8 this season and will also compete in the high jump.
Coming off a second-place finish in the 100 at the Masters Meet, San Clemente senior sprinter Herbert Gamboa will look to cap his breakout season with a winning effort against the state’s elite in the 100.
The CIF-SS Division 1 champion is tied with Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks junior Khalfani Muhammad for the fastest wind-legal time in the state this season (10.51). That time is also the third fastest wind-legal time in county history, trailing only former Trabuco Hills sprinter Matt Bruno (10.45 in 2002) and former Los Alamitos sprinter Justin Woods (10.48 in 2005).
“The hard work has paid off, and making it to the state meet is such a good accomplishment,” Gamboa said. “To prepare for the meet, I just have to keep the focus on myself and not the other competitors.”
Mater Dei senior Corey Hammond will enter the 300 hurdles coming off a lifetime best of 37.35 to win the Masters Meet title. He currently holds the fourth best time in the state this season.
“Seeing the times drop is huge because it allows everyone to see that I will be a true competitor at state,” Hammond said. “All my coaches want from me is to run a good race.”
The El Toro distance running pair of junior Juan Gonzalez and senior Kevin Durham will be the county’s lone representatives in the 1,600 and 3,200, respectively.
Gonzalez finished second at the Masters Meet in a lifetime best 4:11.28, the seventh best time in the state this season.
“I just need to be ready for whatever comes and not hold anything back,” Gonzalez said.
Durham, the CIF-SS Division 1 champion, will be making his second straight appearance at the state meet and has the eighth fastest time in the state this season.
"I came out at the Masters Meet and did what I wanted to do, which is qualify,” Durham said. “There are no real front-runners in this year’s field, and I’ve noticed in a lot of races that nobody wants to take the race early, which has caused the races to go out slower than they should have. I’ve been preparing myself to have to lead and I’m improving at that.”
The Chargers will also be represented in the long jump. Senior Justin Schneider won the CIF-SS Division 1 title with a lifetime best distance of 23-10 and is 11th on the county’s all-time wind-legal list.
Woodbridge senior Dragan Simic is the lone county competitor in the 800. Simic’s lifetime best of 1:52.97 at the Masters Meet helped him finish third and is the 10th best time run in the state this season.
Friday’s qualifying meet begins at 3 p.m. for field events and 5 p.m. for running events. The state championship meet takes place Saturday at 4:30 p.m. for field events and 6 p.m. for running events.