Clovis, CA - The California Track & Field State Championship represents the best athletic achievement in sports today. It is a gathering of the elite in efforts to determine who can sprint faster, endure longer, jump higher, longer or throw further than anyone else. It is a game we have all played since childhood and is arguably the purest form of competition in today's realm of sport.
With a packed stadium as the backdrop, the only underclassman in the field, and the tension of competing in her first State Championship Elena Bruckner refused to let the pressure get to her. It has been an exciting journey for the sophomore. A year ago Bruckner failed to qualify for the CCS Championship by just two inches. It was a difficult moment but a defining one, a catalyst of her transformation. The agony of defeat is heavy, a burden that one can use an excuse or use as motivation for redemption. Bruckner's character would allow nothing but the later.
A breakthrough season was evident from the start: first came the 40 foot barrier, then medaling at the Arcadia Invitational, then the Top 8 Invitational where with one throw became one of the all-time best in CCS History and a top 10 national ranking. She has matured into a student of the sport but has never lost her competitive edge. Finding herself "on the ropes" at the section championship Bruckner overcame, winning the discus dramatically on the final throw of the day.
But it was in the shot put where she would shine. The section leader all season she advanced to the State trials where once again it was the last of three throws that advanced her into the finals.
The State Finals draws a crowd. With over 17,000 in attendance it is an appreciation of not only the athletes gifted talents but the countless days, months and years it takes to get to this level. Behind that one throw is a two year story of hard work and persevering through disappointments. It is a story of a knowledgeable, passionate coach; competitive teammates who challenge you to be better every day and family who are there to cheer you on along the way.
All the hard work had paid off. Three Valley Christian throwers made it to the State Meet, Bruckner got through to the finals. Aspiring to be the first thrower to medal in school history she found peace in that there is one great equalizer at the State Meet: everyone starts at zero.
"It doesn't matter what you have done before, it matters how you perform when being squeezed," Coach Rolle said.
After the Arcadia Invitational Bruckner set her goal of medaling at the California State Championship. It was evident Saturday night that she was focused and determined to achieve that goal opening with a strong 44-9. It was her second throw that would hold up however, a mark of 45-7.25 to finish fourth place in the State.
A perfectionist she wanted more but is happy with the result. She returns next season as the top returner in the state as the three placers ahead of her are seniors. "I am so extremely blessed and happy to have taken 4th place at state for shot put and am so blessed to have such amazing coaches, family, and friends there to cheer me on," Bruckner said. "To not even make it to CCS last year and then come back and take fourth at state as a sophomore surrounded by seniors is indescribable."
State Finals - Shot Put Results: CLICK HERE