Peninsula High junior Aidan Lieb goes into every race with the mentality it will be his last.
Having advanced to the CIF State Track and Field meet in the 110-meter hurdles Friday and Saturday in Clovis, Calif., Lieb knows what he needs to do to fare well at state.
"Performing well at the (CIF Southern Section) Masters Meet (May 18) was my main goal for this season, and I knew state would be a treat," Lieb said. "The goal now is to move past prelims Friday, and make it to Saturday."
The trek from Peninsula's campus to Buchanan High, where the CIF State meet will be held, is 246 miles, and Lieb knows he must remain focused throughout a shortened week of practice.
"I know I can't train extremely hard the week before state because I'm trying to peak," he said. "It's all about training smart and focusing on the little things."
Lieb said he began playing sports since he could walk, but was first introduced to track and field during the sixth grade at Miraleste Intermediate School.
The last few years, however, have tested Lieb's psyche.
As a sophomore running at the CIF-SS Division 1 championships, Lieb finished last in the 110 hurdles.
"The biggest thing I took away from that race was to not be so nervous at such high-level meets," Lieb said. "I freaked myself out last year, and ended up not running a good race."
Things changed this year.
Lieb placed first in the 110 hurdles at this year's CIF-SS championships at El Camino College May 11, while also placing second in the boys long jump and fourth in the 300 hurdles.
His finishes earned him placing in the Masters Meet at El Camino in both the 110 hurdles and the long jump. To advance to the Masters Meet, one must be in the top 9 in regard to times or distances, regardless of division.
Last weekend, each event required a different focus.
"In the long jump, the biggest thing I focused on was waiting until I hit the apex of my jump and to transition into my landing, then focus on keeping my hands up and feet raised in my landing," Lieb said. "In the 110 hurdles, I needed to focus on an explosive start and quick arms over the hurdles."
While Lieb did not qualify for the CIF State meet in the long jump, his 14.48 time at the Masters Meet was .09 seconds better than his time the previous week.
"When I (crossed the finish line), I was ecstatic," Lieb said. "I was expecting to get third and earn a medal, but becoming the best 110 hurdler in the Southern Section was a big step for me as an athlete."
With his focus now on the final meet of the high school season, Leib knows he must have a short-term memory.
"I enjoyed the glory (of placing first) on Saturday and Sunday," Lieb said. "When Monday hit, you have to wipe everything and start focusing on your next race."