CLOVIS, CA - The Central Section Track and Field Championships was run in unseasonably cold temperatures under a steady rain throughout, but the competition on the track and in the field was as hot as ever. The home of the 2019 California State Championship meet hosted its first high school meet since the new Beynon Hobart surface was put in last month.
Host school, Buchanan, found the new surface to their liking as they swept the team championships. The Buchanan boys won a close 4-point victory over Clovis North after being behind by one heading into the 4x400. The Buchanan girls, on the other hand, earned a dominating 86-point victory over Liberty-Bakersfield.
The Clovis North Boys, Buchanan Girls, and Liberty-Bakersfield Girls all kept their State Meet Championship hopes alive by safely qualifying all their athletes and relays that project to score at the State Meet.
Clovis North's title hopes at State will rely heavily on the legs of Caleb Foster who took home 4 1st place finishes at the Central Section Championship. He anchored the victorious 4x100 team (41.17) as well as winning the 110 Hurdles (14.27), Long Jump (23'9"), and Triple Jump with a new personal best of 49'1.25". Isaiah Galindo also projects to score at State for the Broncos in the 3200 which he won (9:21.07) with a big kick in the last 200m after taking 2nd in the 1600 (4:18.45) to Jacob Yagers of Highland-Bakersfield (4:17.05) who had a devastating finish of his own.
Liberty-Bakersfield's sophomore stars Reese Renz and Faith Bender will lead the Patriots into the State Meet after their outstanding performances in the section championships. Renz scored wins in the 100 hurdles (14.36) and 300 hurdles (43.47) along with a 4th place finish in the long jump. She also ran a huge leg on the team's winning 4x400 relay team (3:53.44). Bender started the day strong by winning the Shot Put (47'4.75") over rival Jocelynn Budwig of Fowler (46'10.25"). The results were switched in the Discus as Budwig edged out Bender 161'9" to 159'5".
The Buchanan girls qualified 14 athletes to the State Meet and will be relying heavily on Distances aces Meagen Lowe and Corie Smith along with sprint star Shelby Daniele and their 4x100 relay team. Lowe was a double winner at the Central Section Championships in the 1600 (4:50.80) and 3200 (10:29.65) while Smith chose to focus on the 3200 at the State Meet and finished just a few steps behind her teammate in 10:30.42 after both came through the mile in 5:16. Daniele started her night off with blistering leg on the winning 4x100 relay team (46.73). She came back later to PR in the 100m (11.82) and then dominate the 200m (24.36) for her two individual victories.
The Central Section showcased three of the best boys' throwers in the State with Daniel Viveros of Liberty-Bakersfield winning the Shot Put (65'9.75") followed by the Buchanan duo of Christian Johnson CA (57'7.25") and Kyler Van Grouw (56'7"). Johnson came back in the Discus to get the win with an impressive throw of 190'9" in the rain. Van Grouw was 2nd (184'11") with Viveros 3rd (183'5") as all three will look to take home the State title next weekend.
The boys and girls Pole Vault competitions provided some of the tightest battles for a State meet berth. On the boys' side Buchanan sophomore Caleb Pouliot won with a 14'9" clearance and was followed by Clay Wilshusen of Paso Robles (14'3"), but the real battle was for the third qualifier for State. Six boys cleared 13'3" in the rain with Lemoore's Ryan White getting the third spot on misses. For the girls, Clovis West's Elizabeth Funk was the winner (12'0") with Buchanan senior Haley Barham 2nd (11'6"). The battle for 3rd was between teammates and friends Taylor Hohenbrink and Skyy Vang of Buchanan. Hohenbrink got the qualifying spot on misses at 11'0".
In one of the closest finishes of the night, the much-anticipated rematch between Central-Fresno's Xavier Worthy and Clovis North's Naythn Scruggs in the 100m did not disappoint. Worth (10.71) got the best of Scruggs (10.74) again while Jalen McMillan (10.77) of San Joaquin Memorial ran hard for 3rd and then came back later to win the 200m (21.70).
There was a youth movement of sorts happening at the Central Section Championships as well. There were nineteen underclassmen who punched their ticket to the State Meet on the girls' side including one freshman winner, Takiya Cenci of Clovis North in the 400m (56.08). For the boys, 4 sophomore individual Champions were crowned in the 100m, 400m, 1600m, and Pole Vault. All of them are amongst the top five sophomores in the State in their events.
The 2019 California State Championships are shaping up to be one of the best ever for the Central Section. Not only are teams like the Buchanan and Liberty-Bakersfield girls and the Clovis North Boys looking for ultimate team glory, but the section boasts several State leaders in individual events as well. For the boys, State favorites include Caleb Foster of Clovis North in the long jump and Daniel Viveros of Liberty-Bakersfield in the shot put and discus. On the girls' side, Meagen Lowe of Buchanan in the 3200m, Elizabeth Funk of Clovis West in the pole vault, and Jocelynn Budwig of Fowler in the discus all hope to keep their #1 rankings in their events. They will all get their chance next weekend right back at Veteran's Memorial Stadium on the campus of Buchanan High School in Clovis, California where, rain or shine, the State's best will be ready to compete.