When Melia Middleton nailed a then personal-record (PR) of 47.21 seconds in the 300-meter hurdles in a May 12 meet, the Christopher High athlete served notice she was one of the best in the event in the Central Coast Section.
On Saturday, she made it official, establishing a huge PR with a 45.96 to finish second in the CCS Track and Field Championships at Soquel High in Aptos on June 19.
When Middleton saw her time on the screen a couple of minutes after the race, she was beaming.
“I felt really good, but I had no clue I had PR’d by over a second,” she said. “I thought maybe my time would be in the 46 second range. When I saw 45 on the screen, I couldn’t believe it.”
Middleton became the second highest individual finisher in CHS history. Only Natalie Gutierrez, who won the high jump in 2015, ranks higher. Middleton delivered her best performance of the season on the biggest stage, all the more impressive considering just three weeks ago she posted a 48.05—a rather average time by her standards—in the Pacific Coast League CCS Qualifier.
In the two weeks between the league meet and CCS Trials, Middleton got to put in the extra work that would propel her to a career-best performance.
“I was definitely glad we had two weeks between PCALs and CCS,” she said. “I put in a lot of work: a lot of 400s, a lot of sprinting, working on not stuttering, and just attacking the hurdles. I had my timing down and it was the perfect race for me.”
At PCALs, Middleton endured some stuttering issues which contributed to her slower time. In the CCS Finals, Middleton told herself before the race to attack each hurdle. In warmups, she shook off all of her nerves to run one of the cleanest races of her life.
“I was calming myself down, telling myself to leave it all out there,” she said. “It’s really one of the highlights and best moments in my life. I just love competing on the track.”
Middleton just completed her sophomore year and this result has given her an extra jolt of motivation as she goes into the off-season.
“It’s definitely motivating knowing I have two more years to get better, work harder and have a full season and more practices,” she said. “I definitely think I’m going to improve even more.”
Gabriela Baxter, who will also be a junior at Christopher in the fall, matched her best of 5 feet in the high jump to finish in ninth place. Recent CHS graduate Liliana Jimenez took seventh in the discus in 101 feet, 1 inches.