Glendale's Michael Davis looks to chase down legends

GLENDALE — As he practiced alone on a solitary track at Moyse Field, Glendale High senior Michael Davis found himself in a familiar position.

The 18-year-old was putting in whatever final work he deemed necessary Thursday afternoon on the eve of the CIF State Track and Field Championship preliminaries at Buchanan High in Clovis.

With a lacrosse scrimmage just wrapping up and football practice not yet underway, the stadium belonged to Davis. As has been the case most of his career, there was no competition for Davis on Thursday.

That, however, will change soon.

“I’m really excited about this week and have been hitting the gym,” Davis said before the start of his final practice Thursday afternoon. “I’ve been doing more squats, more running on the treadmill and have been trying to get my endurance up. Hopefully, it will work out tomorrow, but we’ll see what happens.”

Regardless of what Davis accomplishes this weekend at Clovis, Thursday represented the end of an era as the Brigham Young University-bound Davis made his final runs at Moyse.

“Michael has had a great four-year run at Glendale High. He’s generated a type of excitement that we used to have at Glendale during it’s track heyday,” said Glendale High long-time fixture Pat Lancaster, currently the school’s athletic director. “He’s brought a level of pride and excitement.”

Davis heads to Friday’s preliminaries to compete in the 200-meter dash at 8:50 p.m. He either needs to win one of three heats or produce one of the next six fastest times to advance to Saturday’ state final at 8:38 p.m.

Davis enters with a vaunted field that includes state-leader Khalfani Muhammad of Sherman Oaks Notre Dame.

However, Davis isn’t just chasing Muhammad, but past Nitros legends.

“If you look at the history of Glendale High, this was a real track hotbed in the 30s and 40s,” Lancaster said. “We’ve had some great champions like Frank Wykoff up to Lee Balkin and Dwight Stones in the 70s. Even Hoover had some great champions like Forrest Beaty. If I were to say Michael is similar to one, I’d probably say Beaty.”

Beaty was a two-time state champion in the 100-yard dash in 1961 and 1962, winning each year with a time of 9.5 seconds. Beaty also captured a 200-yard title in 1961 in the 200-yard dash in 21.5 seconds.

Yet, when Davis is asked for a comparison, he doesn’t mention Beaty, but Wykoff, who won three state individual championships in 1927 in the 220-yard run (21 seconds), 100-yard run (9.8 seconds) and long jump (22 feet, 5 inches).

“My coaches don’t talk about those guys, but Mr. Lancaster does,” Davis said. “Sometimes I compare myself to Frank Wykoff. I try to be as fast as him, although I’m not quite there.”

Davis enters with the sixth-fastest seeded time of 21.42 and appears to be hitting his stride at the right time.

Davis began the postseason by winning three championships at the Pacific League Finals on May 3 at Arcadia in which he was disappointed with his mark of 21.45 in the 200.

That exact mark was matched a week later at the CIF Southern Section Division I preliminaries at Trabuco Hills High on May 11, in which Davis finished runner-up to Eleanor Roosevelt’s Elijah Mitchell (21.18).

A week later, at the CIF-SS Division I championships at Mt. San Antonio College, Davis failed to advance in the 100 meters in stumbling out of the blocks to a fourth-place effort in 10.77.

That shortcoming provided fuel, as Davis rebounded in the 200 in finishing runner-up in Division I to Upland’s Myles Valentine (21.06) in a new personal-record of 21.39, which topped his previous personal best of 21.40 set at the 2012 divisional championships.

In his final warmup before the CIF State Championships, Davis punched his ticket up north by taking fourth overall in 21.42 seconds.

“I have two goals coming up this weekend,” Davis said. “I want to advance to Saturday’s final and I want to try to get a 21.1 on Saturday. I know it’s going to be tough, but that’s what I’m looking for.”

Such a mark would not only well supersede Davis’ personal-best, but would also put the Glendale resident in contention for a title.

Davis’ goals have his coach anticipating a big weekend.

“I’m really excited to see Michael run on Friday,” Glendale Coach Andrew Dakopolos said, “and our staff is supportive and eager to see what he is capable of on the big stage.”

While a 21.1 may seem unlikely, Lancaster isn’t counting out Davis.

“Here’s a kid who has lost one league race in his four years and that was at the Pacific League finals his freshman year when he was [just clipped],” Lancaster said. “He’s helped put Glendale, Calif., not Glendale, Ariz. or anywhere else, but Glendale, Calif. back on the map. He knows how to compete and I think he’ll have a big weekend.”

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