OMAHA — Ross McMahon picked the right time to set a personal record in the high jump.
The Fremont High School senior cleared 6-7 on Friday to place second in the Class A boys division of the state track meet at Omaha Burke.
McMahon said he had seen signs recently that he was peaking at the right time.
“A couple of days ago at practice, I had a few good jumps and Coach (Ben) Zuch said he was very confident in my ability and that I should take it to the next level at state,” he said. “I’ve been pretty consistent in the 6-4 to 6-6 range. I thought I had a 6-7 in me. I just needed a little bit of confidence to get over it and help the team out.”
McMahon’s performance helped the Tigers score 28 points on the first day of the meet. They are in second place behind fellow Heartland Athletic Conference school Lincoln Southwest (30). Another HAC team, Lincoln Southeast, is third with 23.
McMahon said he was getting worn down during the competition, but Zuch gave him some needed encouragement.
“He is a great coach and was a national qualifier (at Midland University),” he said. “I was getting tired, but he told me to get it done. I took his advice and gave it all I had left.”
The Tigers’ 3,200-meter relay team also did everything they could. The foursome of Wes Ferguson, Matthew Klein, Ben Schulz and Jose Gonzalez finished second in 7:51.16. Omaha Creighton Prep won the race in 7:48.89.
“Obviously we wanted to win, but we gave it everything we had and — unfortunately for us — Prep had a really good team,” Schulz said. “A time of 7:48 is hard to beat, but I think we all ran pretty well. We have to hold our heads high. It is disappointing, but we still did our best job.”
Schulz said he will miss running with his three fellow seniors.
“It has been incredible this year,” he said. “These guys are all my best friends and we train together every day.”
Gonzalez later ran the 3,200 and finished fourth in 9:45.42.
“I was cruising at the mile and then laps five and six for me were starting to get tough,” the Midland University recruit said. “I let go a bit and then tried to come back. It is fine, though, I’m happy with the place that I got.”
Gonzalez will join Schulz in the 1,600 meters on Saturday. He will also compete with Ferguson, McMahon and Lucas Arps in the 1,600-meter relay to finish the meet.
“I’m ready for tomorrow,” he said. “I have some motivation from today. I want to score as many points for my team as I can. We want to try and win a state championship.”
Sophomore Mark Mendoza of the Tigers tied his personal record by clearing 14-0 in the pole vault to place fifth.
“This was my first time here I was extremely nervous,” Mendoza said. “I just tried to look down and not notice the crowd.”
The fifth-place medal serves as motivation for his junior year.
“I’ll just work harder and try and get better,” he said.
Two other Tigers ended their prep careers by earning medals in the shot put.
Tate Moeller, who earned a medal in the discus as a junior, was seventh at 53-0 1/2. Teammate Spencer Fitz was eighth at 50-8 1/4.
“I had never been a shot putter before this year,” said Moeller, who plans on attending the University of Arizona, but won’t be competing in athletics. “To be able to help this team in the shot and discus this year has been pretty cool.”
Fitz was close to making the state finals as a junior.
“It was my goal all year to make it to the finals,” he said. “I’ve been here before so that made me not as nervous.”