Cuesta College

Six Cuesta athletes seek state track and field titles

If it wasn’t stormy weather or a second-guess in his pole choice, it was food poisoning.

Cuesta College pole vaulter Derick Hinch hasn’t had the perfect meet yet, and the redshirt freshman is hoping his last one in a green Cougars uniform is his best.

One of six Cuesta track and field athletes to advance to this weekend’s California Community College Championships, Hinch said he verbally committed to Cal a few days ago and will be transferring in the fall.

Before he leaves, Hinch wants to make a run at the school record, a 17-foot, 3-inch mark that he’s been close to in practice.

His season best is 16-63⁄4, but after rain put a damper on some of Cuesta’s early season events, his best chance for a big mark might have been a meet at Azusa Pacific in mid-April — if not for some fast food that turned on him the night before.

“I was up all night puking, and I probably shouldn’t have jumped the next day,” Hinch said, “but I came in at 15-9 and just quit.

“I won. That was pretty cool, but it just sucked because the conditions were pretty good for that meet, and it could have been a great day.”

Hinch isn’t the only Cougars pole vaulter gunning for greatness.

Arroyo Grande High graduate Rachel Murphy is the only woman in the state to clear 12 feet this year.

She goes into the meet, which starts today at American River College in Sacramento, as the top seed, and if that holds up, she would become the fourth Cuesta state pole vault champion.

The Cougars have had 22 women qualify for the state championships since the pole vault became a women’s event in 1999.

Murphy is an all-around athlete who also ranks fifth all-time at Cuesta in the women’s 100 meters (12.71 seconds).

Another former Eagle will join her in Sacramento. After taking a season off from competition last spring, freshman thrower Austin Field broke the Cougars men’s record for the discus in the Southern California regional meet with a mark of 153-2.

He also ranks third at Cuesta in the shot put with a best of 50-21⁄2. He qualified for the state championships in both events, and Cougars head coach Brian Locher said there will be tough competition from the North, something Field thrives on.

“Austin’s currently ranked between sixth and eighth in the the shot and disc,” Locher said. “He’s just a raw athlete, and he really steps up to the competition when he gets it.”

Others who will compete for Cuesta include:

Kasey Urman — The former Templeton High standout was the Cougars’ cross country MVP in the fall and has transferred her success over to the spring, setting the Cuesta record in the women’s steeplechase (11:26.97). She will compete in the mile.

Grace Mann — The former swimmer is the second Cougars women’s pole vaulter competing in Sacramento. She was the last of 12 qualifiers to make it in after she increased her personal best to 10-1 at the regional meet in her first year competing in the event.

Tyler Gates — The 10K runner placed 16th at the regional meet but was a late addition to the 12-man state field. His personal best in the event is 32:41.08, which ranks sixth all-time at Cuesta.