Brent Burns stood near the end of the pole vault runway for his first attempt at 16-feet 2-inches and Steve Slocum sat nearby in the stands and accepted congratulations for clearing 15-6 and finishing second.
After all, the event was over at that point, wasn't it?
All that remained was for Burns, of Acalanes High School in Lafayette, the top pole vaulter in the country this year with a best of 17-5 1/2, to make the height and pick up his second straight state title on the way out of Hughes Stadium. So, after passing the first three rounds, he grabbed a pole, sprinted down toward the pit . . .
He failed again on the second try.
And again on the third.
Steve Slocum, the Foothill High senior, was no longer a second-place finisher. He beat the best in the country while sitting.
"I wish he made it," said Slocum, who finished second at the Southern Section 4-A championships two weeks ago at Cerritos College. "He is a good jumper and deserves it. But what happens happens.
"That was a shock. He's a great jumper. He just had an off day."
Fortunately for Slocum, so did Pat Alduenda. The San Diego Section champion from Ramona High came in with the second-best mark in the state (16-1) and also no-heighted after passing to 15-6.
Nick-John Haiduc's pass Saturday was to skip his graduation at Servite, a once-in-a-lifetime event.
But there's no need to ask him if it was worth it. He wore a smile better than any cap and gown after finishing a surprising second in the 800 in a hand-timed 1 minute 52.4 seconds, just one-tenth of a second behind winner Dan Gabor of Pleasonton Amador Valley.
"I felt I had something to prove," Haiduc said. "Not in Orange County. But (elsewhere) no one really knew I existed."
No one can say that today, about Haiduc or Slocum.