Last year, Frank Lima went to the NCAA Division III Track and Field Championships with no hopes or ambitions other than to pick up some experience while competing in the final and biggest collegiate meet of the season.

He left that meet as a high jump All-American, thanks to finishing tied for sixth.

This year, the 2009 graduate of Half Moon Bay High School returned to the meet hoping to do even better.

Though he once again earned All-American status, he finished in a three-way tie for eighth with a clearance of 6 feet, 8 inches.

“I felt I could have done better,” said Lima, who just completed his junior year at Whitworth College in Spokane, Wash. “I was hoping to finish somewhere between fourth and sixth place.”

He cleared the first four heights all on his first attempt. He also got off a good attempt at 6-9, barely knocking off the bar. The next two attempts were not that good, ending his night of competition at Claremont-McKenna College.

Had he cleared that height, he would have been half-an-inch away from his personal best.

“The weather was great during the practice sessions,” Lima said. “It was in the 80s and there was a light breeze. On the night of the competition, it was cold and dark. We had to wait about 30 minutes to take an attempt.”

If he returns to next year’s finals, Lima will probably see some familiar faces. Of the 19 competitors at this year’s meet, only one was a senior. He failed to clear a height.

“Every year, I have gotten better,” Lima said. “I usually improve by about one inch. This year, I improved by about two inches.”

Lima set his most recent personal best of 6-9 ½ at a meet two weeks prior to the NCAA meet.

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