Hanford Champion
Year: 2011
Team: Track (Girls)
Name: Veronica Bradley (Long Jump - 17'9")
STATE CHAMPION
Hanford's Veronica Bradley woke up Thursday morning barely able to swallow and unable to move her neck.

With Urgent Care closed, her family took her to the emergency room -- not exactly the start to the first day of the state track meet Bradley was looking for.

"There's a photo of me in the ER with my head slumped down, asleep," she said. "I didn't think I'd be able to compete."

Bradley missed the team bus ride to Tacoma, but after sleeping for a bit and taking some Ibuprofin, Bradley's mom and stepdad drove her to Mt. Tahoma High School.

"I was thinking, 'I can't compete. This is terrible,' " she said. "I couldn't believe this was happening. I figured I couldn't compete in high jump and I probably wouldn't make the finals in the long jump.

"By the time I got here, though, it was like, 'Just kidding. I'm ready to go.' "

Bradley was more than ready Friday.

A day after taking seventh in the high jump -- her first state medal -- the senior won the Class 3A girls long jump with a 17 foot, 9 inch jump.

"It's really exciting," she said. "I'd gone to state since sophomore year, but I'd never gotten a medal. So (Thursday) with the seventh I was so excited, but this was obviously amazing to win."

Bradley nearly fulfilled her prediction of not making the finals in the long jump.

With a stiff wind blowing, she had OK jumps on her first two attempts but they weren't good enough to be in the top eight.

On her final attempt of the opening round, she let everything go and unleashed her winning jump.

"I was really scared. If I hadn't made the finals, there would've been tears," she said. "I scooted back a foot (on the runway) and ran big huge steps. I felt like I was flailing with the wind and my legs being tired.

"I knew I was going to run really fast, so I scooted back - otherwise I would have scratched."

The distance wasn't a PR and it didn't meet Bradley's goal of 18 feet at state track, but it was enough to eek past Mountain View's Kathran Dean, who went 17-8.75.

"I didn't want to hope bad for them, because I wanted to do good," Bradley said. "It was nerve-wracking, but I'm really excited because this is the event I knew I had a chance in."

A chance she almost didn't get.