EUGENE, Ore. — The nerves set in for Savannah Camacho after she crossed the finish line. Camacho, a redshirt sophomore from Oklahoma State and a graduate of Templeton High, looked up at the scoreboard at Hayward Field. She thought she was on pace for a personal best in the 800 meters (2:02.84). Instead, the scoreboard flashed 2:04.43.
Camacho didn’t know if her time would be fast enough to advance to the finals. Then, the scoreboard flashed again. This time, it showed the eight runners advancing to the finals.
Camacho was No. 8 on the list.
Nerves changed to disbelief as tears streamed down her face.
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“This is a dream come true,” Camacho said, short of breath from the hard race. “I couldn’t be happier.”
Camacho was one of three women with ties to the San Luis Obispo area to compete at the NCAA Division I Track and Field championships on Thursday. Colorado junior heptathlete and San Luis Obispo High graduate Abrianna Torres finished her two-day performance in 20th place, while Cal Poly sophomore Ashley Windsor finished 16th in the semifinals of the 1,500 meters.
Wednesday, during day one of the heptathlon, Torres said she was waiting for nerves to hit her. They never did. Instead, her nervousness arrived before the start of day two.
“They hit hard, too” she said.
Torres said that the second day of events — the long jump, javelin throw and the 800 meters — is not her “strong day.” Overall, Torres was disappointed with her day two performance. “I’m pretty hard on myself and I expected more out of myself,” she said. “It’s not to say I did a horrible job, but I know I could’ve done better.”
Before the start of the 800, Torres looked at the rest of the women at the starting line. She saw people she used to think she could only watch on television and dream of competing against. At that moment, Torres realized she belonged with this group.
Next year, she’s is aiming to get back to the national championships.
“But I’m so thankful for this experience that I was even here in the first place,” she said.
Coming into the 1,500, Windsor expected one thing: the race was going to be fast. At the starting line, she zoned out.
“I took some calming breaths, emptied my mind and went for it,” she said.
Windsor, a native of Langley, B.C., raced out to second place through the first lap and a half. “If you don’t put yourself in it in the beginning, then you aren’t going to be there when it matters,” she said.
Eventually, Windsor finished ninth in her 12-woman heat.
At the beginning of the year, Windsor never expected to be at the NCAA Championships. Now she knows she belongs with the best in the country.
“It’s important to remember if you’re here, you belong to be here,” she said. “It’s not by chance — you earned it.”
Making the finals of the 800 means that Camacho is an All-American. As she looked towards Saturday’s final, lying down from exhaustion on the turf grass in the media tent, she said she has nothing to lose.
“I’m going to go for it all and shoot for the win,” Camacho said. “I’ve come farther this year than I thought I would. Winning would just be a cherry on top.”