CLOVIS -- Liberty junior Morganne Hill was "ecstatic" after one hurdles race and "bummed out" after the other.
Stockdale senior Asia Chesley beat the butterflies and backed up her No. 1 seed in the girls high jump.
The great Blake Haney said he tried to relax but still feels the pressure of being a defending state champion.
Ultimately, many top athletes at the CIF State Track & Field Championships at Veterans Memorial Stadium looked back at Friday's successful preliminaries and shrugged.
"It's definitely an avoid-disaster day," said Frontier's Colton Foster, who qualified for the state finals in both the boys discus and shot put. "You don't really care about marks for the most part. You just want to get through to finals and then go (all) out."
All of Kern County's returning state medalists qualified for the finals, which begin today at 4:30 p.m. for field events and 6 p.m. for running events.
At the top of the list is Haney, who cruised with the pack in his 1,600 meters race for nearly three laps before kicking into high gear and easily winning his heat in 4:13.64.
"I just tried to relax until the last 500 meters," he said. "I don't think it's possible in California to not run hard, even in a prelim. You've got to run to win."
Still, Haney is as rested as possible heading into the finals. He's scheduled to run the 1,600 at 6:32 p.m., and then the 3,200 -- which has no preliminary -- at 9:03. Should he win both, he'd become just the second runner in state history to successfully defend titles in both distance events, following Roman Gomez of L.A.-Belmont, who will be in attendance tonight.
"It's a cool feeling being the defending champ," Haney said, "but I try not to think about it to avoid any added pressure."
And he knows tonight's finals won't be easy. Prep Cal Track editor Rich Gonzalez has called them two of the deepest distance races in state history.
"It's a great field," Haney said. "I don't know if California has seen fields quite like this, so I'm excited. I'll be ready to go."
Same goes for Chesley, who has won two state medals in her career and now has aim on a high jump championship. In the prelims, she cleared the first two heights on her first attempt and then needed two tries to clear 5-foot-7, good enough to secure a spot in the top 12 and in the finals. She'll jump for gold beginning at 5 p.m.
"Today was pretty stressful, so I'm glad to move on," said Chesley, whose personal best of 5-10 was the No. 1 seed coming into the meet. "I believe 5-11 will win it, and I'm pretty comfortable I can get there."
Speaking of personal bests, Hill had two of them in the hurdles events, though her 13.66 in the 100 hurdles -- which smashed her previous best of 14.05 -- was barely wind-aided at 2.1 meters per second. Legal wind is 2.0 mps or lower. It was good enough for second in her heat and another state final.
"I'm beyond content with that time; I'm ecstatic," said Hill, who was top six in both hurdles events last year. "I'm not sure if that time has hit me."
She reeled in another PR in the 300 hurdles, winning her heat in 42.12 -- but wasn't nearly so happy afterwards because she clipped one hurdle and went over another with the wrong foot.
"I had a bad race, which hasn't happened in a while," she said. "I'm a little bummed out, but if I can improve, I should run a good time (today). For the moment being, it irks me."
Foster, who was fourth in the shot put last year, qualified third in the discus with a best throw of 180-4. He also made it back to the finals in the shot, where he was 10th with a 56-3.75.
The other local returning medalist is Bakersfield's Scotty Newton, who finished top six in both the long jump and triple jump last year. He only qualified in the triple jump but made the most of it Friday, jumping 46-10 to finish ninth and reach the finals.
"I think today went well," Newton said. "Coach (Kim Jenkins) and I had planned to simply qualify for finals, and that's what we accomplished. The competition was more intense than we expected, but we pulled through. Now we just have to to bring it all tomorrow."
Newton has jumped farther -- just like Foster has thrown farther, Chesley has jumped higher and Haney has run faster. But that's not what was important on Foster's so-called "avoid-disaster day.
"You never take making finals at this meet for granted," Stockdale coach Dave Lonsinger said.