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Wells jumps Valley rough

Some might say senior Wes Wells had no business even being at the Valley Championships in Visalia on May 17. After all, he had only competed in the high jump event three times before in his life. This was his first year as a track athlete.

Spots in the program were often reserved for track athletes with more experience than he had. Athletes from 90 Valley schools, ranging from heavyweights like Edison and Stockdale to smaller schools like Riverdale and Fowler, were angling for these spots. Many of them had been at the Valley Championships before.

But these odds didn?t deter Wells. He qualified to run the 400 meters and compete in the high jump along with two other teammates, junior Aliza Ford in the 100 meter hurdles and sophomore Kim Swift in the 200 meters.

After a somewhat disappointing 400 meter run where nerves got the best of him, no one expected Wells to win the high jump event.

?I thought I would have a chance to get in the top six and get a medal,? Wells said. ?That was my goal.?

Wells wandered onto the field in his typical nonchalant way. He donned his signature straw hat and wore his maroon and white jersey with a sense of quiet humility. He knew he was up against the big dogs. After a few sprints and run throughs, the competition began.

Coach Ericlee Gilmore was full of nervous energy for Wells. He knew Wells had a chance of qualifying for the state meet.

?After winning the Reedley Invitational on April 28, I looked at the top marks in the Valley,? Gilmore explained. ?I saw one person had jumped 6?4? and a bunch of people were at 6?2?. That showed me he had a chance to go to state.?

In Visalia, Wells started by clearing 5?8?. The other competitors began dropping like flies. Soon the competition was down to three athletes: Charleston from Bakersfield West, McDowell from Tulare Western and Wells from Fresno Christian.

More than 20 teammates, Fresno Christian parents and coaches watched from the stands. Coach Gilmore, Wells? mother, Martha Wells, and sister watched from the fence. A quiet gasp came when Wells cleared 6?2?, his highest jump of the season ? and on his first attempt.

?I knew that was going to be very good,? Gilmore said. ?In a tie breaker in this event, they always go back to the person who cleared the bar first.?

The next two athletes cleared the bar on their second and third attempts. That meant Wells was already on his way to the State meet in a few weeks ? something no other Fresno Christian athlete has achieved. The judge raised the bar to 6?4?. Wells took a deep breath and went for it.

He missed ? just clicking the bar off the holders with his heels. His face betrayed his disappointment. He had two more attempts. The next two jumpers also failed in their three attempts. Wells walked over to the official.

?He was reading off the names of whom got first, second and third. He read off McDowell and Charleston,? Wells said. ?Then he read off my name last that I got first place and I jumped up in the air.?

He turned to the crowd and his coach and a slow smile spread across his face. He held up his pointer finger to represent the number one. He had stolen first place.

?I really didn?t believe it at first,? Wells said. ?I was surprised because I was only jumping 6?2?s and these guys were jumping 6?6? in the previous meets.?

Wells walks away from his first track season with 11 medals in the top three and a trip to State Championships at Los Cerritos in Norfolk on June 2-3.

His name is to be added to the record board in the FC gym for seven events. Before this season, no one expected his name to be there.

For more information concerning Wells’ achievements and the track program, contact Gilmore at [email protected].

SIDEBAR:
Wells garnered the top three medals in the following events this season:

League Championships
1st Long jump
1st 400 meters
1st 4×100 meter relay
2nd 4×400 meter relay

Reedley Invitational
1st High Jump

All-Sierra meet
3rd 200 meter
1st Long jump
2nd 4×100 meter relay

Area meet
1st 400 meters
3rd High Jump

Valley meet
1st High Jump

His new school records include:
200 – 23.0 School record (old record 23.2 by Gilmore)
400 – 50.35a School record (old record 51.98a by Gilmore)
High Jump – 6?2 School Record (old record 6? by Ryan Austin-Brown)
4×100 relay – 46.14a School Record
4×400 relay – 3:39.12 School Record
Long jump – 21?0.5?
Triple jump – 38?9

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