NORWALK – For the first time since 2010, the Burbank-area will have representation at the season-ending CIF State Track and Field Championships.
Burroughs High senior Matt Schwartz made sure of that when the pole vaulter hit a state at-large mark of 15 feet, 2 inches at Friday afternoon's CIF Southern Section Track and Field Masters Meet at Cerritos College. Schwartz was nearly joined by Burbank's Candela Fernandez, who set a new school record in the 1,600-meter run, but just came up a little short of qualifying for state.
"The goal all year was to get to the state meet, so I'm really satisfied," said Schwartz, who burned the tips of three fingers on his left hand during one of his attempts. "I would have liked to have finished No. 2 in school history, but at least I get one more try."
Schwartz entered Friday's competition at No. 3 all-time in school history with a mark of 15-6, which made the UC Berkeley-bound senior a favorite to advance.
Schwartz had no issues moving past the opening heights of 14-2 and 14-8, before hitting the bar on his first attempt at 15-2.
The miss did not derail Schwartz, who came back and clinched what turned out to be the final spot to state when he flew over the bar at 15-2.
"It's an accomplishment to make it to state and something that Matt should really be proud of," said Burroughs Coach John Peebles, whose last state advancer was Western Nelson in 2009 in the 3,200-meter run. "It's a testament to all the work he's done this season."
The following height at Masters was 15-8, which also happened to be an inch higher than 15-7, the No. 2 mark all-time in Burroughs High history, set by Jon Switzer in 1976.
Schwartz may have done best in his first try, when he cleared 15-8 on the attempt, but kicked the bar out of placement on his descent back to the mat.
Schwartz missed on two subsequent attempts and finished eighth overall to a little disappointment.
"I wanted that No. 2 mark," Schwartz said. "I'll get it next week."
His vault coach, 25-year veteran Mike McHorney, sympathized with Schwartz.
"It can be frustrating, especially when the goal is within reach," McHorney said. "The good thing is that he'll have another try."
As for Fernandez, the sophomore missed out on becoming her school's first state qualifier since senior Greg Dotson qualified in the 800 in 2010.
Yet, that wasn't for a lack of effort.
Fernandez again shaved time off both her and the school's record in the 1,600 with a mark of 4 minutes, 56.50 seconds.
Unfortunately for Fernandez, her mark missed the state at-large time of 4:55.15 and was two spots out of the top-six finish needed to advance.
"I'm proud of my time of course, but I'm also a little disappointed I didn't make it to state," said Fernandez, who entered with a time of 4:57.59. "I'm just a little bit off and I'll make it next year for sure."
Fernandez was seventh after one lap in a race dominated by the Great Oak trio of Haley Dorris (first, 4:44.60), Destiny Collins (second, 4:45.26) and Ashley Helbig (fourth, 4:48.25).
Fernandez fell as far as 12th through the end of the third lap before moving up to 10th with 200 meters left and then passing up Segerstrom's Stephanie Ortega (ninth, 4:57.64) over the last 50 meters.
"All Candela continues to do is improve her PR every week," Burbank distance coach Trevor Marca said. "She has another two seasons and she'll be back here."
Follow Andrew J. Campa on Twitter: @campadresports.