Holman shifts into high gear

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Lily Holman (176) shifts into high gear to win the 100 at the MEL meet May 5.

Finishing second in the 200-meter dash May 5 at the Monticello Empire League track and field championships might have been just what Lily Holman needed. The Vacaville High School junior was reminded that anything less than her best will not be enough to survive two Sac-Joaquin Section meets and qualify for the state championships.

Holman made it through the section Division III meet last week and qualified in four events for the Masters, which begins Friday at Davis High. She won the 100 and 200, avenging her loss to Fairfield’s Mikelia Strong at the MEL meet. She contributed to the Bulldogs’ second-place finish in the 4×100 relay and placed fourth in the long jump.

The top six finishers in each event at Weston Ranch High in Stockton qualified for the Masters. That number will be cut in half this week with only the top three in each event earning tickets to the state meet May 27 and 28 at Buchanan High in Clovis. Holman deserved to go last year in the 4×100 relay with her sister Maya and the Oliver sisters, Aspin and Makayla. The four ranked first in the state, but they never had an opportunity to qualify for the state championships when the Masters was scratched.

And on top of that, Vacaville’s girls team was stripped of the MEL championship after it was determined a member of the team was ineligible. Last season was not a lost cause for Holman, however. Her sister and the Olivers counted on her to hold her own in the relay. The three seniors taught the sophomore what it will take to compete with the elite.

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Holman will need to put those lessons to good use Friday when she competes in the preliminaries for the 100, 200 and 4×100 relay. Her best shot to reach the state meet should be the 200. Holman ranks third in the section with a time of 24.72 seconds, according to www.Athletic.net. She is ranked fourth in the long jump and is tied for fifth in the 100. The relay team has little chance of advancing despite setting a season-best time of 49.84 seconds at the Division III meet. Three teams have cracked 48 seconds – Lincoln (46.60) and St. Mary’s (47.09) of Stockton and Lodi (47.68). Armijo is ranked fourth at 48.17, a school record.

By comparison, the Holmans and Olivers sat atop the state rankings in 2021 with a school-record time of 47.55. That was then. This is now for Holman, who can count on just one person to reach the state meet. That would be the same person she sees in the mirror each morning. Barring a miracle in the relay, she will have to make it on her own.

That actually suits Holman, who thinks of a race as a competition against herself as much as against Strong or any other runner. She knows what to do and if she does it, the results will take care of themselves. Holman admits to having a bad habit of starting slow. She keeps her head down for the first 20 meters or so. If Holman is leading when she lifts her head and opens her stride, the only race after that is for second place.

The mistake she made against Strong in the 200 at the MEL meet was letting Strong use the curve to her advantage. Strong is is the top-ranked 400 runner in the section, so she is adept at navigating the curves. Holman prevented that from happening again at the Division III meet by bolting from the blocks and attacking the curve to get out front. As in the 100, there is little chance she will be caught once her legs shift into high gear.

The 200 is tricky with the staggered start. There will be four heats Friday and the winner of each will advance to the finals along with the four runners with the next best times. Holman does not need win her heat to advance (she is the only runner in her heat to crack 25 seconds), but doing so will put her in a middle lane and allow her to keep an eye on the inside runners trying to overcome the stagger before the straightaway.

Holman will plenty of time between her three events Friday to plot strategy for each. Her heats are at 4:08 p.m. for the 4×100 relay, 5:46 for the 100 and 7:33 for the 200. She prefers to keep to herself between events and rarely sits down on the field or in the bleachers.

“I try to be alone,” Holman said. “I just want to think about my races. I try to get my head in the right place.”

If it is, she will be as well.

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