Esther Higgwe hopes to use track and field as a springboard to bigger things.
Her goal is to earn a college scholarship, become a pediatrician and return to her native Nigeria to open a hospital.
The Monterey Trail High School senior sprinter's performance in Saturday's star-studded 32nd annual Sacramento Meet of Champions at American River College can only help.
Higgwe won the girls 100- and 200-meter races and anchored Monterey Trail's winning 4x100 relay to win the Girls Track Athlete of the Meet award.
"I'm so excited right now," Higgwe said after running a personal-best 11.86 seconds in the 100. "I've been trying to break 12 seconds for so long."
Higgwe's time pushed her to No. 5 in the state 100 rankings.
Higgwe credited a strong start - "I stayed down instead of popping right up" - and a relaxed finish in edging Cosumnes Oaks freshman Natsumi Mcgee, who also cracked the 12-second barrier in 11.97.
Higgwe won the 200 in 24.50 to move to No. 8 in California. Her strong anchor leg helped Monterey Trail to a time of 47.43 in the 4x100, sixth best in the state.
Higgwe moved from Nigeria to the United States when she was 6 years old. She closely watches the economic struggles of her native country and hopes to give back.
That's why she maintains good grades and can't wait to get to college. She has an official visit scheduled next weekend at UC Riverside and plans a visit to Cal later in the season.
"Track isn't my only passion," Higgwe said. "I sing, I draw, I dance.
"But I want to become a doctor. Whatever medical degree I do receive, I plan to go back and open a hospital because I know what is lacking there is good medical care."
Higgwe's performance was one of many highlights of the fast-moving and efficient meet.
National leader Gabby Williams of Reed in Sparks, Nev., won the girls high jump in 5 feet, 11 inches, breaking the oldest girls Meet of Champions record and sharing Girls Field Athlete of the Meet honors. Woodland's J.C. Broughton leaped 5-10 in 1989. Reed, a sophomore who has a season best of 6 feet, failed in her attempts to clear 6-1. Rocklin's Leah Carter finished second at 5-7, moving to fifth in the state.
National triple jump leader Sasha Wallace, a junior from Holy Names of Oakland, easily won that event at 41-8 3/4 to share Girls Field Athlete of the Meet honors. More impressive was her win in the 100 hurdles that featured four of the top eight in California. She won in 13.62, nosing out Sac-Joaquin Section leader Daje Pugh of Fairfield (13.73). Pugh won the 300 hurdles in 42.54 to move into second in California and 13th in the U.S.
UCLA football scholarship signee and state leader Kenneth Walker III of Kennedy in Richmond had a high and low in the boys 110 hurdles. He thought he had bettered his state-leading time of 14.05, only to learn that his 13.75 was wind-aided. Walker won the 300 hurdles in 38.14 and anchored Kennedy's winning boys 4x100 relay to earn Boys Track Athlete of the Meet recognition.
San Leandro's Andre McBride won the boys 200 in a state-leading 21.204, edging Colony of Ontario's Kyree King (21.210). Jesuit's Austin Mitsch, in finishing third in 21.53, moved to sixth in California. King won the 100 in 10.54 to tie for the state lead.
Oakdale's Manny Hernandez won the high jump in 6-9, edging second-place Londeen Mccovery of Cosumnes Oaks and third-place Noel Frazier of California in San Ramon on jumps.
Rio Americano's Basil Okoroike wasn't entered in the elite invitational triple jump division. But competing in the early-day open division, he produced the best triple jump of the day in going a wind-aided 48-09.50. That moved him to second in the state, all-conditions, and tied for fifth all-time in Meet of Champions history. James Logan of Union City's Jeff Porthro won the invitational division at 48-00.50
Deer Valley's Shawn Simms, in earning Boys Field Athlete of the Meet, won the long jump in a wind-aided 24-05 to move to second, all conditions, in the state. Second-place finished Nathaniel Moore of Bishop O'Dowd-Oakland (23-08.50) is now fourth and third place finisher Jordan Monteiro-Williams of McClatchy (23-05.00, wa) is now eighth, all conditions.
Monterey Trail's William Reyes won the boys 3,200 in 9:24.75 and Vista del Lago's Clare Carroll the girls 3,200 in 10:45.90. Davis' Jack Scranton won the 1600 in 4:16.53.
Bear River's Kendal Nielsen won the girls long jump in 19-01.25 and placed third in the triple jump at 38-05.75.
Ponderosa's Alison Ryan won the girls shot put at 41-9.
Bee photo by Brian Baer