Troy Hardy camped out in one of the coolest areas at Mt. San Antonio College, site of last week's CIF Southern Section Divisional Track and Field finals. Underneath a canopy, away from the track, Hardy escaped the heat.
He sat next to three coaches and rested before his late afternoon event, the 300-meter hurdles in the Division 3 final. When word leaked of the first CdM athlete to qualify for the next meet, Masters, Hardy stayed calm.
While CdM's coaches congratulated Matt Hurst for recording the meet's fifth fastest time in the 400-meter sprint, a 48.08-second effort, breaking a CdM school record, Hardy focused.
In a half an hour or so, it would be Hardy's turn to compete. Coach Bill Sumner asked Hardy if he was going to be the next Sea King to reach Masters. Underneath his sunglasses, Hardy nodded his head.
"Are you going to wear your glasses when you run?" someone teased Hardy.
"No," he responded.
"You know what lane you're in?" Sumner asked Hardy.
"Yeah, lane three," Hardy said.
"You're in a great lane," Sumner said.
That lane Hardy ran in almost led him to the finish line before everyone else in the Division 3 final. Hardy was in first heading into the final turn, the final 100 meters, and then his hamstrings tightened up.
Gone was his 10-foot lead. His legs kept churning, just not fast enough. Hardy struggled with three hurdles to go, and three competitors passed him, leaving him in fourth place in his division.
The senior thought his season was over. There was no way he was moving on to Masters for the second straight year, the first time in an individual event.
Hardy was dead wrong. He clocked his fastest 300-hurdle time, a 38.28, finishing seventh overall at the meet. The top nine earned trips to Masters at Cerritos College in Norwalk.
"I'm glad I'm moving on," Hardy said after he broke his own CdM school record in the 300 hurdles, "but I had victory within my sight."
The competitor in Hardy wanted him to finish strong and claim the Division 3 title. He came close, until his hamstrings locked up on him.
For someone like Hardy to be competing at a high level in the 300 hurdles is impressive. This is only his second year doing the event.
He's bound for UC Santa Barbara. The reason why the Gauchos recruited him to run was not based on the 300 hurdles. Hardy said the program took an interest in him because of his 400 split time in the 4x400-meter relay.
Hardy ran the first leg of the relay last year and this year, and he's part of CdM's two fastest times (3:17.80 and 3:21.68) in the event. The 4x400 relay is still probably his favorite event, even though his team failed to return to Masters.
The relay team never had a chance after it was disqualified at the Pacific Coast League finals earlier this month. For the past three weeks, Hardy has focused on himself. He likes that aspect of track and field. Unlike other sports he played at CdM, like volleyball, everything is on him.
"You can't point the finger at anybody but yourself," said Hardy, who dealt with a couple of issues leading up to Masters.
The first are his hamstrings and the second is not throwing out his left arm when he hurdles. He can correct the arm, not the hamstrings, which can be freaky.
Hardy took the first two days of the week off, before returning to CdM to train for Friday's Masters. Two days before the meet, he took an ice bath for 12 minutes. The ice bath is a routine of his before every big meet and Masters fit that bill.
The top six at Masters earned berths to next week's CIF State Championships at Buchanan High in Clovis. Hardy won't be making the drive, his season ended with an eighth-place showing in the 300 hurdles, clocking in at 38.67.
Hardy's race at Masters took place at night. He prefers to compete in the heat. The weather was a bit too cool for his liking.
Born: Nov. 2, 1994
Hometown: Newport Beach
Weight: 165 pounds
Sport: Boys' track and field
Coach: Bill Sumner
Favorite food: Sushi
Favorite movie: "The Blues Brothers"
Favorite athletic moment: "Getting ranked No. 1 at the OC Championships, where I broke the school record and my time was one of the top 10 in the state."
Week in review: Hardy finished seventh overall at the CIF Southern Section Track and Field Divisional finals in the 300-meter hurdles in 38.28 seconds, breaking his own CdM school record and qualifying for the CIF Southern Section Masters Meet.