Mitch Martin was struggling with his form, looking as if his track and field season would end on May 11.
Devon Smith was so sure his season was over that after his final miss at 5 feet, 7 inches in the high jump, he left the pit to change into his street clothes.
Despite the obstacles, both Half Moon Bay High School athletes qualified for Saturday's Central Coast Section semifinals following the last day of competition at the Peninsula Athletic League championships, held at the College of San Mateo.
Martin finished third in the 3,200 meters in 10 minutes, 3.47 seconds, while Smith, who finished in a tie for fifth, got the right to advance to CCS, winning a jump-off. Only the top five finishers qualify for CCS.
Martin's junior season has been one to forget with one injury after another. The resulting lack of training has limited his success.
It showed in the 1,600 meters in which he finished seventh. The 3,200 meters was his last chance to get into CCS on his own. Had he finished sixth or seventh, he could have gotten on as an alternate.
With 300 meters left in the 3,200 meters and being in sixth place, Martin heard coach Paul Farnsworth yell, "3-2-1, go."
"I had to take off whether I felt like I could or not," Martin said.
He could move up, going from sixth to fourth. With each step, he got closer to Menlo-Atherton's Jack Beckwith.
"As soon as I got to the turn, I saw Beckwith, who was within reach," Martin said. "I was going to go with him in the last 100. As soon as I came off that turn, I felt like I could go right by, so I did."
He was still a little disappointed he couldn't repeat the title he won last year. But he's happy he doesn't have to worry for a few days, wondering if he's going to CCS.
"These last two weeks, I have been feeling better and better," Martin said. "I have another week to get back into shape."
The drama was there for Smith as he and San Mateo's Kevin Garcia finished in a clean tie for fifth, at 5-5. Both jumpers had the same amount of misses prior to both failing to clear at 5-7.
Rules state the competition must be completed before a jump-off takes place. Smith, thinking it was over, left the high jump to change. Upon learning a jump-off had to take place to break the tie for fifth and the final spot to CCS, he changed back into his uniform.
Both missed at one attempt at 5-7. Garcia missed his attempt at 5-5 ¾. Smith's attempt was perfect, punching his spot to CCS.
"I thought I would finish in the top 10," Smith said. "I thought I would be in CCS next year. I considered the high jump last year and didn't like it. Now I like it."
A week earlier, Maggie Galle qualified for CCS, finishing fourth in the high jump on May 4.