With one narrowly missing out on qualifying for the finals and one falling – literally – just short of the podium, the State Cross Country Meet was the final event for a pair of Oakdale High School seniors.
The California State Track and Field Championships were hosted Friday and Saturday at Buchanan High School in Clovis.
Running in the first of two heats in the 1,600-meter run on Friday, May 26, Caleb Cavanaugh put forth a very consistent effort, finishing seventh in the heat of 15 runners in 14 minutes, 14.91 seconds. He ran each of the first three laps in 64 seconds and then drove himself to a 62 second final lap.
The second heat, which involved the top qualifiers for the event, was significantly faster with each of the top six runners eclipsing the time of the winner of Cavanaugh’s heat. When the electric timer sorted out the top 12 runners in the two heats that would comprise the field for Saturday’s final, Cavanaugh’s time relegated him to the 14th position out of the 28 entrants in the two heats.
The final qualifying time was 4 minutes, 13.93 seconds, meaning that the Oakdale senior missed qualifying by less than a second.
“He ran really well, in fact he was in third place in his heat going into the final lap. The race was tight, as they always are at the state meet, and it came down to the final sprint and he just did not have on that day. He ran the best he could on this day,” said coach Guy Fowler.
Senior Dax Daley ran in the 3200m on Saturday night, May 27 and finished with a time of 9:09.12.
“Dax had the race of his life going. He was in good position for six laps and on lap seven he got into excellent position for the last lap. On the final with about 250 meters to go he had moved up to fourth place and was surging,” Fowler noted. “Vic Moreno (assistant coach) and I knew he was going to be on the podium and break the nine-minute barrier; he was running that well.”
However, with about 200 meters to go, Daley got tripped and went down to the track. He then had another athlete step on his face, Fowler said, causing small cut on his right eyelid.
“He proceeded to get up and finish the race and finish 15th,” Fowler said.
His time of 9:09.12 is about one second slower than his school record in this event.
“We figure the fall cost him about 12 to 15 seconds. He was heartbroken to be so close and to have it taken away from him by no fault of his own,” added Fowler. “We are just crushed. He was there and he was going to medal.”
Added OHS Athletic Director Dave Bacigalupi: “He was running beautifully and he told me he felt great, and thought he could get third. It broke my heart to see that happen, but to see him get up and finish tells me everything about his character and his resolve. An unbelievable heart wrenching and disappointing moment, but like I told Dax remember the fact that you were running the race of your life, and all your hard work was paying off. I hope he takes that to heart and knows we all are very proud of him and his accomplishments over his four years of running track for the Oakdale High Mustangs.”
Both Daley and Cavanaugh finished their Oakdale High School career with the State Meet and have plenty to look at with pride, added the coach.
Daley set the school record in the 3200m and Cavanaugh set the school record in the 800m and 1600m this year.
“These two are the greatest male distance runners this school has ever produced,” Fowler said.” They were part of league championships in track and cross country, won two section championships and a state championship in cross country … what else is there to do. They have laid the foundation for the future of distance running in Oakdale and the future is bright, but we are certainly going to miss them both.”