davis

Glendale High sprinter Michael Davis will be competing in the state meet. (Cheryl A. Guerrero, Los Angeles Times / May 30, 2012)

Since joining the Glendale High boys' track and field team, Michael Davis has built an impressive resume.

Along with a handful of league championships won by the junior sprinter, there's an appearance in the CIF Southern Section Masters Meet for the first time in his burgeoning career. Davis' next major accomplishment will come today at the CIF State Meet, where he will make his inaugural appearance in the 200-meter preliminary race at Buchanan High's Veterans Memorial Stadium in Clovis.

He's on a hot streak, as his times continue to drop and his confidence rises. Davis will automatically qualify for the state final Saturday by either winning one of the four preliminary heats today or recording one of the next five fastest overall times.

The challenge and the environment couldn't be more exciting for Davis, one of 29 participants who will take to the track in the 200 between 8:50 and 9 p.m. today. The final will begin at 8:38 p.m. Saturday.

"I've been running since I was about 6 years old and it will be cool being a part of the state meet experience," said Davis, who qualified after he placed third in 21.61 seconds on May 25 at the Masters Meet at Cerritos College in Norwalk. "It hadn't sunk in right away when I qualified.

"It's going to be a great experience going up against some of the best runners. An experience of a lifetime. It will be awesome."

Davis will be the first Nitro to participate in the state meet since Richard Erbes took part in the 3,200 in 1986. He'll join a pantheon of legendary school athletes to qualify for state, including former Olympian Dwight Stones and state high jump record holder Lee Balkin.

He's been working diligently with Glendale Coach Bob Bailey and assistant Marv Thompson covering every technique involving the race. Quick starts are just as important as strong finishes, something that's greatly aided Davis in his pursuit to advance.

At the Masters Meet, Davis appeared to break out of his block slowly and was in seventh place through the first 50 meters before moving up two spots during the next 50 meters. Over the final 100 meters, Davis kicked and passed Eleanor Roosevelt's Elijah Mitchell and Kyree King of Colony to capture third. Davis needed to either finish in the top five or meet a state at-large mark of 21.60 to advance to the state prelims.

Davis, who set a personal-best mark of 21.40 in the CIF Southern Section Division I final on May 19 at Mount San Antonio College in Walnut, said he learned a valuable lesson after partaking in the Masters Meet — every facet of the race needs to be treated equally.

"It's the competition and you tend to run even faster when you are matched against the best," said Davis, who won Pacific League championships in the 100 (10.72) and 200 (21.80) on May 4 at Arcadia High. "Like at Masters, I got off to a slow start and then I hit the straightaway and got a good kick to pick me up.

"Right after the race, I couldn't believe I made it to state. It was very exhilarating to do that while running in front of a big crowd."

Thompson, who has served as Glendale's sprints, relays and hurdles coach the past three seasons, said Davis is on the cusp of putting everything together to put him in position to run his best race today and perhaps Saturday.

"The goal will be for him to run well [today], but we want him to qualify [for Saturday]," Thompson said. "We have spent the last week or so working on his turns.

"Prior to that, he had a habit of crossing his arms and we worked on his shoulders going side to side. I like his chances. He's more than capable of putting all of the elements together to get him to Saturday. Then, we want him to let it all go on Saturday."

Davis rejoined the Nitros after starring at wide receiver on the school's football team. He also had several commitments while performing for the school choir, temporarily setting him back in his training regiments for both sprints.

Davis rejoined the team in late February. Davis and Bailey outlined Davis' goals, which he's surely met throughout the season.

"He came out late and he was concerned that he hadn't done anything yet," Bailey said of Davis, who has won three straight league titles in the 200 and two in the 100. "I told him that the season doesn't start for him until the league finals.

"He focused on what he needed to do. In the Masters, he came out of the curve in seventh place and then he came back and poured it on in the last 100."

Davis, who teamed with Jeffrey Massin, Tristan Pacba and Carlos Navarro Esperanza to clock 43.79 and place third in the 4x100 relay at the league final and helped the Nitros' 4x400 relay team of Davis, Massin, Chris Canlas and Navarro Esperanza place second in 3:23.9, will enter today's race with the eighth fastest time (21.61) among the participants. Khalfani Muhammad of Sherman Oaks Notre Dame, who won the Mission League championship in the 200, will be the top seed after posting a mark of 21.10 at Masters.

Seeding aside, Davis, the lone local athlete scheduled to compete in the state meet, said there's plenty of incentive.

"I'm focused and I know I can still run better," said Davis, who caught 52 passes for 860 yards last season en route to earning all-league football first-team and All-Area second-team accolades. "I'm running my best and I want that to continue."