Last year as a junior, Arroyo Grande High’s Madison Jacobs was one inch from winning the discus at the CIF State Track and Field Championships.
This year, she’s back at it again after qualifying for state.
In practice Wednesday, she was all business in preparation for today’s preliminary in Clovis, which sets the stage for the state final Saturday.
Jacobs will be joined by teammate Elijah Holt, also a senior, who’ll compete in the boys 110 hurdles.
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They’re the only two San Luis Obispo County track athletes to qualify for the state meet this year.
“I’ve become really serious right now,” Jacobs said. “I’m focused, and I want to go out there and come up with a win.”
Besides the discus, Jacobs also will compete in the shot put. At the CIF-Southern Section Masters meet to qualify for state, she won the discus with a best of 152 feet, 10 inches and she placed seventh in the shot put at 42-4½.
Holt placed fifth in the boys 110 hurdles in 14.43 seconds. He ran his personal best earlier this season of 14.2 seconds.
“It’s a good feeling knowing that I completed my goal to get to state,” Holt said. “But running well and getting a good time there seems like it would be icing on the cake for the year.”
Jacobs will attend Kentucky on a track scholarship in the fall. Each year, she has improved her technique and topped her personal records.
This year, her bests are 163-11 in the discus and 47-3 in the shot put. In last year’s state final, she placed second in discus with a throw of 155-9, just off the top mark of 155-10.
Jacobs loves music and participates in a high school dance program, which she said helps her throwing events.
“Discus is a lot about your technique with your feet,” Jacobs said. “If you don’t have rhythm, you’re not going to be super smooth.”
As a freshman, Jacobs participated in volleyball, basketball and track. She continued with volleyball and track through her junior years but focused exclusively on track this year.
“Volleyball definitely helped with the kind of explosiveness you need in track,” Jacobs said. “But this year, I wanted to concentrate on track because I know that’s going to be my future.”
Athleticism runs in her family. Jacobs’ father, Jimmy, was a former University of Idaho football player and her brother, Seth, redshirted this past year as a linebacker at Oklahoma State.
“My mom played sports in high school, and she knows more about football than most guys do,” Jacobs said with a smile.
In preparation to compete, Jacobs tries to maintain her calm and internalizes what she needs to do.
“I don’t talk,” she said. “I’m pretty much to myself. I never psyche myself out. I believe in myself and then just go out and try to kick some butt.”
As the 5-11 thrower wound down her practice this week, Holt was just getting started with his workout.
The 6-1 hurdler practiced his starts out of the block. His coach, Jon Hitchen, smacked his hands together for simulation and his athletic protégé burst out of the blocks to stride over two hurdles.
This will be Holt’s first appearance in a state meet. In the preparation before a race, Holt first listens to music in warm-ups. He said he feels the butterflies, but he has a coping mechanism.
“When we first start to get into the blocks, I take a deep breath and it all goes away,” Holt said. “I’m ready to run.”
Holt first started running hurdles at the varsity level as a sophomore. As a novice hurdler, he’d leap too far over the hurdles and had to practice narrowing his clearance.
Often in local meets, Holt is so far ahead of his competition, nobody is around him at the finish line.
“During the year, my coaches got me into big meets to get the feeling of having people around me,” Holt said. “Last year at Arcadia, I got too overwhelmed with the people around me and I almost fell. So, that was a reality check.”
Jacobs and Holt both admit to not paying super careful attention to their diets.
“I just try to stay hydrated,” Jacobs said. “I drink a lot of water. That’s what I’ve been doing all week, especially since I’m coming off of a cold.”
Holt recalled that he ate a meal from McDonald’s before one of his best races this year.
But they plan to pay more attention to diet as they move on to the next level. Holt plans to attend Cuesta College next year and compete in track with the goal of eventually competing at a four-year college.
For both, achieving personal bests would be a thrilling way to go out in state.
“I hope my best is yet to come,” Holt said.