An otherwise sweet junior wrestling season for Pioneer Valley's Courteney Tompkins ended in disappointment.
She lost in the 170-pound state championship match to the wrestler she defeated for the CIF Southern Section title. In 2014, Tompkins made sure she wasn't a state runner-up again.
The third-seeded Tompkins edged top-ranked Sacramento Christian Brothers junior Alexandria Glaude 3-2 at the Visalia Convention Center for the 170-pound state title, her first state championship.
This came after Tompkins successfully defended her sectional championship.
Meanwhile, Orcutt Academy senior Emily Mathis repeated as the CIF-SS Division 4 girls 100-yard breaststroke champion. Lompoc junior Chrisshnay Brown (Division 3 girls discus) and Nipomo senior Kyra Meko (Division 4 girls 1,600 meters) each won a sectional divisional championship for the first time.
Here is a recap of each one's championship run.
Tompkins breaks through
Seeking her first state title, Tompkins was locked in a 2-2 draw with Glaude in the third and final round.
Then, "She was called for stalling," Tompkins said. That gave Tompkins the go-ahead point, and she staved off Glaude the rest of the way.
Tompkins finished fourth at the senior nationals, becoming a high school All-American for the third consecutive time.
She will continue her wrestling career at the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Ky.
At first glance, Mathis' position at the halfway point in the Diviison 4 breaststroke final at Riverside City College didn't seem too impressive.
"When I made the flip turn, I was, like, third or fourth," Mathis recalled.
"My coach (Deanna Ayers) was (thinking) 'What are you doing?'"
As it turned out, Mathis' strategy was sound. She overhauled the swimmers in front of her to win in 1 minute, 5.51 seconds, repeating as Division 4 champion and swimming .25 seconds faster than she did when she won in 2013.
"The second half of the race is my strong point," said Mathis.
In fact, the 200 breaststroke figures to be Mathis' main event when she swims for Boise State University next school year. Mathis helped lead Orcutt Academy to its second straight Division 4 runner-up team finish behind Cerritos.
She just kept improving
Brown threw farther and farther as the season went on. She won the Division 3 girls discus championship at the CIF Southern Section Track and Field Divisional Finals at Cerritos College in Norwalk with a then-best 131 feet, 4 inches.
"Winning a divisional championship was my goal this year," she said shortly after she claimed the title. "I missed winning by six inches last year."
She won by 4 1/2 feet this year.
Top-ranked Tiffany Gilmore of Compton Centennial was the final thrower, and Brown anxiously watched the flight of Gilmore's last throw. When the discus sailed wide right of the ring for a foul, Brown could exhale.
Brown beat the at-large qualifying standard by two inches with another PR, 134-5, at the sectional Masters Meet, the state meet qualifier, at Cerritos the following week.
Brown advanced through the preliminaries at the state meet at Clovis Buchanan High School's Veteran Stadium, then finished eighth in the girls discus final with yet another personal best, 137-6.
A risk pays off
Meko went against conventional wisdom and passed a runner on the curve, the last turn of the third lap, to move into the lead
The move was a good one. Meko easily held the lead and won in a personal best, and school record, 5 minutes, 1.86 seconds in the girls Division 4 1,600 at the divisional track and field championships.
"I could feel the pace slowing down," Meko said later of her decision to buck conventional strategy and pass on the curve.
"The (Los Angeles) Marlborough girl (Bianca Alonzo) has a really good kick. She out-kicked me at the prelims. I wanted to be sure I had a good lead in that last lap."
Meko did build a big lead heading into the final lap. Alonzo moved into second place at the head of the backstretch, but Meko easily out-ran her to the line. Alonzo finished second.
Meko, the Nipomo co-Most Outstanding Female Senior Athlete along with Taylor Nevitt, will run cross country and track for Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore next school year.
"I really liked the fact that their coach doesn't just recruit the cream of the crop but recruits solid runners and makes them even stronger," Meko said of her decision to go to Johns Hopkins.
Nevitt, a basketball and track and field standout at Nipomo, will throw for UC Santa Barbara.