CLOVIS — It’s the classic sports story, something straight out of ABC’s Wide World of Sports: The harder you fall, the more rewarding the return the glory.
Stockdale junior Aaliyah Wilson exhibited both the agony of defeat and the thrill of victory in the span of 77 minutes.
Wilson clipped a hurdle and crashed to the track in her signature event, the 100-meter hurdles, at 6:10 p.m. She left the infield in tears, only to return at 7:27 p.m. to run in the 100 meters, in which she out-leaned Jazmyne Frost of Gardena-Serra to win the fourth heat and qualify for tonight’s state final.
“There’s a lot of stuff going on in my head right now,” Wilson said after the triumphant 100. “I’m so disappointed in the hurdles, but I knew I had another race, and I had to make up for it.”
Wilson ran in a bally-hooed heat of the 100 hurdles; her best time of 13.72 is a Central Section record but the girl in the lane next to her, Agoura’s Tara Davis, is the national leader at 13.01.
Both got off to a good start, and Wilson was within an arm’s length of Davis midway through the race when disaster struck: Her trail (right) foot clipped the fifth hurdle, throwing her off-balance and sending her face-first to the track and crashing into the next lane.
“It’s hard, because you’re right next to the national leader, and it’s easy to do a little too much,” Stockdale coach Dave Lonsinger said. “You get in this race, and you’ve been running ahead of people all year, the challenge is to just be yourself. I know she tried hard to do that, but sometimes it’s easier said than done. And all it takes is a slight misstep.”
It was the third time since last summer that Wilson had fallen in the hurdles.
“I was having flashbacks,” she said. “I am so done with falling. I’m still really (ticked) off.
“I love the hurdle race, but I hate the hurdles.”
Wilson knew she had only a little more than an hour before she had to be back on the track. She spoke with Lonsinger and her mother, Andralette (Gil) Wilson, the record holder in the 100 at Cal State Bakersfield.
“It’s hard to talk to me when I’m angry, but my mom got through to me,” Wilson said. “She said, ‘Don’t cry. That wastes energy. You need to let it go and put it behind you.’”
Lonsinger went with a softer, but still effective approach.
“I just told her, ‘Run powerfully as someone who’s loved, because you are,’” Lonsinger said. “Trust your ability, and run like you want to run, because you’re a loved kid. There’s no pressure.”
And so Wilson went back out for the 100, nailed the start, took the lead and held off a hard-charging Frost to win the heat and enter tonight’s state final with the No. 4 seed.
“Having that happen, falling down? Most athletes would go in the tank, especially in this situation,” Lonsinger said. “She bounced back and won her heat. That’s amazing.”