A week before the CIF State Track and Field Championships Ethan Cochran talked about reaching rarefied air.
The Newport Harbor High senior smiled and became excited when he thought about the chance at becoming the first in school history to win two state titles in the throwing events at the State Meet. After his performance on Saturday he can smile again, because he achieved the amazing feat.
Cochran won state titles in the discus throw and shotput Saturday at Buchanan High in Clovis. He repeated as state champion in the discus with a mark of 190 feet. He won the shotput for the first time at 62-41/4.
He was also the first thrower under the guidance of Tony Ciarelli to win two state titles at the State Meet. Ciarelli, regarded as one of the top throwing coaches in the nation, has been coaching for 33 years. This was his 23rd time at the California State Championships.
"It's a big honor," Cochran said during a telephone interview. "Coach Ciarelli has coached a lot of great people and that's the first time out of all them. That's great .... He just gave me a hug and congratulated me. It was really cool."
Newport Harbor senior Steve Michaelsen placed fourth in the discus (181-10). He said he was happy to earn a medal at the State Meet.
Because of Cochran and Michaelsen Newport Harbor finished tied for third among boys' teams at the State Meet with 25 points. Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks won with 36.
Newport Harbor junior Paige Tennison, making her debut at the State Meet, finished eighth in the 3,200 meters in 10 minutes, 33.71 seconds. Sarah Baxter of Simi Valley won in 10:12.00.
Cochran said he entered Saturday's finals with great confidence to win the discus. He has been ranked No. 1 in the event all year. He won the silver medal last year in the event at the IAAF World Youth Championships in Lille, France. Of course he was confident. Actually maybe a little overconfident.
"In the discus I felt I was too overhyped like I was beginning to play a football game," Cochran said. "My first throw was pretty far, but I got called a foul and then I had a couple of bad ones. And it came down to three throws. I had another bad one. Then on the next one I got it."
Cochran's personal best in the discus is 209-8. He got that mark when he won the Arcadia Invitational April 7, and it was the No. 2 mark in the nation this season. Cochran had been chasing the state record, 213-11, set by Scott Moser of Huntington Beach in 1977, when he was coached by Ciarelli.
Cochran fell short of the record, but winning two state titles showed his great competitiveness. He produced big throws when he needed them the most, Ciarelli and Newport Harbor boys' head coach Nowell Kay said.
"It's a hard thing to do," Ciarelli said of Cochran winning two state titles. "He just stuck with it and he got that throw that he needed ... It's the work and all the time and effort. This is what it's all for and it's really great when it all pays off."
Cochran said he felt it was more of a challenge to win the shotput at the State Meet. He entered Saturday's finals as the No. 1 seed, but he knew it would take a throw of over 60 feet to win. His personal record in the event is 62-10, set when he won at Arcadia.
He came up with a big throw when he needed it. Garrett Weinreich of Arroyo Grande had a mark of 61-111/2 before Cochran's third attempt. Cochran stepped up with the winner, 62-41/4.
"He came up with a throw when he had to come up with a big throw, when his back was against the wall and needed to win," Kay said.
Cochran said he will compete at the junior nationals June 15 in Bloomington, Indiana. If he finishes in the top two he goes to the world championships again, this time in Barcelona, Spain.
He believes he can one day become an Olympian, "in 2016 or 2020, we'll see."
"It's always been in the back of the mind," he said. "I'm the best in high school right now. I plan to be the best in four years."
— Compiled by Steve Virgen