Fallbrook High School senior Chris Bernal extended his high school track and field career one more week when he qualified for the state meet in two events, including the triple jump in which he won the CIF San Diego Section championship.
“I’m super excited, and I’m just happy to be able to make it this far this year and hopefully achieve everything I’ve wanted to since my freshman year,” Bernal said.
Bernal had a triple jump of 47 feet 5 1/2 inches at the CIF section finals May 26 at Mt. Carmel High School. His long jump of 23’ 0” placed fourth, but he earned an at-large berth in the state meet for that event. “I was hoping to make it in both, but I was expecting to make it in the triple jump,” he said.
The state meet will take place tomorrow and Saturday at Buchanan High School in Clovis. “The kid works really hard, and it’s great to see it pay off, especially on the big stage,” said Fallbrook jumps coach John Kroeger.
Second place in the triple jump went to San Pasqual’s Sam Hartinger, who had a distance of 46 feet 9 1/2 inches. Chase Dariso of Oceanside was third at 45 feet 10 1/4 inches. “The triple jump went better than expected,” Bernal said.
Jumpers are allowed six attempts, and four of Bernal’s exceeded 45 feet. “To have four jumps that big in one series is absolutely phenomenal,” Kroeger said. “His whole set of jumps was pretty incredible.”
At the beginning of the 2012 track and field season the Fallbrook school record for the triple jump was 45 feet 7 inches, which was set by Kenny Myers in 1978 and which was the Warriors’ longest-standing school record. Fallbrook’s first dual meet of 2012 took place March 7 at home against El Camino, and Bernal broke that record with a jump of 46 feet 4 1/4 inches. Bernal’s longest triple jump entering the 2012 season was 43’ 0”, which was also Bernal’s shortest official triple jump of 2012.
The school record which lasted for 34 years was broken twice more by Bernal in 2012. In an April 25 dual meet with San Pasqual, the Fallbrook record was broken by more than a foot when Bernal jumped 47 feet 5 1/2 inches. That still wasn’t good enough to win the meet, as Hartinger reached 47 feet 6 1/2 inches.
Two days later, Bernal would have both a new school record and a victory at the Escondido Invitational meet. Bernal attained a distance of 47 feet 5 3/4 inches while Hartinger was second at 46 feet 0 1/2 inches. “He had a huge night at Escondido,” Kroeger said.
“I’ve been constantly breaking my own record,” Bernal said.
Bernal’s distance of 45 feet 8 3/4 inches took first place in the Avocado East League preliminaries with Hartinger placing second at 43 feet 3 1/2 inches. Hartinger won the league finals after jumping 44’0” while Bernal was second at 43’11”.
Hartinger’s triple jump of 46 feet 3 1/2 inches led all competitors at the May 19 CIF preliminaries; Bernal was second at 45 feet 11 3/4 inches.
“It was a little bit of a vindication for him,” Kroeger said of Bernal defeating Hartinger in the CIF finals.
Prior to the CIF preliminaries, Bernal’s only long jump over 23 feet took place in a March 28 dual meet with Escondido and was 23 feet 0 1/2 inches. His distance of 23 feet 4 1/2 inches in the league preliminaries ranked second, behind the 23’5” distance of El Camino’s Isiah Jackson.
Chevy King of Castle Park won the CIF finals with a long jump of 24 feet 6 inches. Saladin Nassir of Sweetwater jumped 23 feet 5 1/2 inches for second place. Jackson took third place with a distance of 23 feet 2 1/2 inches.
Bernal was disappointed in his long jump at the finals, although Kroeger was not. “For him he had an average day. Twenty-three feet is still five inches off the school record,” Kroeger said.
“He’s started to expect more than that,” Kroeger said of Bernal’s long jump at the CIF finals. “We’ve also got another week to keep training.”
The state meet gives Bernal one final chance to set the school long jump record – and two opportunities should his mark in the preliminaries advance him to the finals.
Bernal’s CIF championship in the triple jump was the first for a Fallbrook athlete of either gender in any of the three jumping events. The last Fallbrook track and field athlete of either gender to win a championship at the CIF section meet was Carrie Johnson, who won the girls discus throw in 2001. The last Fallbrook boy to win a track and field CIF championship was Brad Hisey, who had the best discus throw in the 1994 meet.
“Coaching a kid like that makes it easy,” Kroeger said of Bernal. “I just got to enjoy all the hard work he put in this year.”
Bernal’s one unattained goal for his high school career is to place in the state meet. “If I don’t win it I’m not going to be heartbroken,” he said.
Regardless of the result, Bernal will end his high school career at the state meet. “I’m pretty pleased with my career,” he said.
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