State Prelims Recap: Storylines Hold To Form

Girls 1600 qualifiers includes (from left) Sofia Abrego (10), Meagen Lowe, Gabrielle Peterson (2), Emma Hadley and Fatima Cortes (1). (All photos in this article by Dan Tyree.)


CLOVIS -- Takeaways from the CIF-State Meet Championship Preliminaries Friday night at Buchanan High where the host school put itself in position to win a girls team title, all nine of the competing returning champions advanced, and a trio of boys look to steal the show. Overall, storylines held to form and surprises were few setting the stage for Saturday's championship meet. 

On Friday, the top nine qualified in the laned races out of multiple heats, and the top 12 in distance races and all field events advanced.

Here's a closer look at some of the storylines of the preliminaries:


The nine 2018 champions that moved on with a chance to repeat as champions: Liam Anderson (Redwood/NC) in the 1600 (4:12.20); Malcolm Clemons (St. Mary's College/NC) in the long jump (22-03.75/-0.3); Caleb Lutalo Roberson (Upland/SS) in the 300 hurdles (36.80); Daniel Viveros (Bakersfield Liberty/CS) in the shot put (68-01.75); Rachel Glenn (Long Beach Wilson/SS) in the high jump (5-05); Alysah Hickey (Coronado/SD) in the long jump; (19-04.50) Jocelynn Budwig (Fowler/CS) in the shot put; Laurel Wong (Santa Catalina/CC) in the pole vault (12-04), and De'Anna Nowling (Calabasas/SS) in the 100m (11.70). The 10th returning champion, Matt Strangio (Jesuit/SJ) was the top qualifer in the 1600 (4:09.13) but a prelim isn't held in the 3200, the event he won in 2018. Budwig's qualifying -- and only attempt -- went 49 feet, 0.25 inches, a PR and new CA No. 1 throw. She also qualified first in the discus throw (160-04). Viveros also qualified second in the discus throw (186-05), Glenn qualified first in the 300 hurdles (41.60) and 4x400 relay, Hickey in the high jump (5-05), and Nowling in the 200 (24.23). 


Favorites stuck to the script in the 1600 where all returning medalists moved on. In the girls, Village Christian sophomore Mia Barnett, one of three 2018 freshmen to medal, had the fastest time among two heats, 4:50.04. Mayfield's Audrey Suarez, and Chino Hills' Jacqueline Duarte, the other two in that elite trio, also moved on. Suarez had the No. 3 overall time 4:51.21, and Duarte, third last year, qualified fifth in 4:51.59. 

Great Oak senior Fatima Cortes, the winner of the second heat in 4:51.02, leads a group of five seniors extending their 1600 high school career one more race. Also in that group, Gabrielle Peterson (Healdsburg/NC) in 4:51.65, Sierra Atkins (Analy/NC) in 4:53.55, Cassidy Haskell Miramonte/NC) in 4:54.76, and Chloe Arriaga (Walnut/SS) in 4:55.27. 

In continuing the new trend, three 2019 freshmen are headed to the 1600 final: Jacey Farmer (Rancho Bernardon/SD) 4:53. 75, Emma Hadley (Anaheim Canyon/SS) in 4:54.33, and Sofia Abrego (Granada Hills/LA) in 4:55.99. 


Three boys took center stage as headline stealers: 

State sprint leader Kenan Christon (Madison/SD) thrilled the crowd at Veterans Memorial Stadium winning his 100 meter heat with the top qualifying mark of 10.32 (2.5), .16 faster than the next fastest qualifier, Del Oro (SJ) junior Ryan Mulholland. He also had the top time in the 200 (20.67/1.7), but got a push late from Clayton Valley's Cameron Reynolds who ran a PR of 20.99 (1.7).

Reynolds had a day, qualifying in the 200 (20.99), 400 (47.96), 4x100 relay (41.86) and ending his night with a 45.4 anchor leg to rally his 4x400 team into the finals (3:17.09). 

Clovis North's hopes for a team title ride primarily on the broad shoulders and strong legs of junior Caleb Foster. Foster came in as the state leader in the triple jump, a top contender in the long jump, a key member of the 4x100 relay team, and someone who would contend for third place in the 110 hurdles. So, about that. The 110 hurdles field already included two nationally ranked competitors in junior Jamar Marshall of Stockton St. Mary's and senior Warren Williams of Merrill West (SJ). Guess who put himself in that company?

Foster won the third of three heats in 13.67 (0.8) to join Marshall (13.64/1.6) and Williams (13.83/1.2) at the top of the national rankings.


Bakersfield Liberty senior Daniel Viveros, the national leader in the shot put, posted the top qualifying mark, 68-01.75. Aidan Elbettar, a junior at Newport Harbor (SS), overcame the disappointment of not advancing in the discus throw to qualify second in shot put (61-05.25) and Anaheim Esperanza junior Jeff Duensing, second to Viveros at last year's championship, qualified third (59-10.25.

In the boys discus throw, both Carlos Aviles (Ventura/SS) and Elbettar fouled all three of their attempts and did not advance. Elbettar, who has a CA-No. 3 PR of 193-03, hit an estimated 199 on his second attempt. He fouled on the throw, which was not measured but landed just before the 200-foot line. Aviles, CA No. 4 with a PR of 191-09, was called for a foot foul after his third throw. He remained in the ring long after the ruling and Ventura coach Kory Anderson filed a protest, which was denied. 

Aviles managed to collect himself enough after that to take the 12th and final qualifying spot in the shot put (56-03.50). 


The aforementioned Jamar Marshall is not to be overlooked on the ballot for boys athlete of the meet. After helping the St. Mary's 4x100 relay team squeak into on of the nine qualifying spots (41.87), he put up the fastest times in the 110 hurdles (13.64) as expected, and the 300 hurdles (36.74) to stun Roberson (36.80), the defending event champion. Marshall said he found extra motivation in the 300s after watching his freshman brother, Jadyn Marshall, get disqualified with a false start in the 110 hurdles. Jadyn Marshall rallied to qualify fifth for the 300 hurdles final. 

In the girls hurdles, top-seeded Rachel Glenn continued her dominance in the 300 hurdles, running the meet's fastest qualifying time (41.60) with Bakersfield Liberty sophomore Reese Renz (42.62) and Riverisde North junior Amari Jenkins (42.75) among the six non-senior qualifiers. Renz also advanced in the 100 hurdes (14.21), Glenn did not, and two of the three seniors in that race are the favorites. Jazlynn Shearer (Silver Creek/SJ) came in as the state leader and posted the No. 2 qualifying time (13.70) but Edison (SJ) senior Cyvanna Bowen introduced herself with a 0.14 PR drop to 13.63. 

Among other qualifiers in the 100H: St. Anthony sophomore Asjah Atkinson (13.93/0.6) and Calabasas sophomore Jade McDonald (14.30/1.1). Notice a trend? The final five qualifiers are all sophomores. 


A year ago, the winning height in the girls pole vault was 12-06. This year, it took 12-04 just to make the final 12 moving on. In a season that has seen an unprecedented 10 girls at 13 feet or higher, nine of those 10 made the field heading to Saturday. The only girl to PR was Buchanan senior Haley Barham, whose previous best was 12 feet. 

A year ago, the boys only needed to clear 14-09 to reach the final, and that in a year where we saw the state and meet records set by Davis High's Sondre Guttormsen, now at UCLA. This year, four went over 15-09 and it took 15-03 to move on. Five who had cleared at least 16 feet moved on but three others did not while three hit PRs to earn spots in the final. Those were senior Jachin Clarke (El Camino/SD) 15-03 (+3 inches), junior Kyle Yonker (Great Oak/SS) 15-03 (+3) , and junior Preston Sladek (Colfax/SJ) 15-03 (+1).


Beau Allen (San Marcos/SS) and Daylon Hicks (Clayton Valley/NC) were among those hitting 6-06 to advance in the high jump. ... Monterey Tail (SJ) senior Zachary Larrier put up the fastest time in the 400 (46.76). ... Amador Valley (NC) senior Chinyere Okoro ran 11.56 (1.1) for the fastest time in the girls 100 meters with defending champion Nowling next 11.70 (1.2) and Madison (SD) sophomore Aysha Shaheed third (11.71/0.7). ...  Upland freshman Caelyn Harris, the Southern Section Masters Champion and state leader, needed only one legal jump (out of her allotted three attempts) to post the best qualifying mark in the long jump, 20-02.25 (0.6). Harris fouled her first attempt and passed on her third. ... The team title chances for the Upland boys took two huge blows when when Roberson didn't advance in the 100m and the 4x400 relay team was disqualified for a lane violation. ... Carson senior Indiah Turner, second in the long jump here as a junior, failed to advance. ... Orange Glen (SD) senior Moray Steward, fourth in the 100m a year ago, qualified third (10.58/1.3) and Bellflower St. John Bosco freshman Rayshon Luke was next in 10.55 (1.1). ... Another San Diego standout, University City sophomore Katrina Wright, is the top qualifier in the 400 (54.17) with Long Beach Millikan freshman Samarra Monrroy second (54.64). ... Concord senior Rayna Stanziano, third in the 800 as a junior who nearly didn't get back to state after falling toward the end of her section final, had the top qualifying time (2:11.01). Lauren Harper, from Trinity HS in the Northern Section, was a heat winner and auto-qualifier (2:12.26), as was state leader Charlotte Tomkinson (Menlo/CC) in 2:12.62. Sacramento St. Francis junior Isabella Fauria was second in Heat 1 to Stanziano with the second fastest time across all three heats (2:11.70).  ... Long Beach Poly's boys team title hopes were kept alive by qualification of both relays, advancement of Kenyon Reed in the 100m and 200m, Liam Anderson in the 110 hurdles, and Everett Steward in the 400. ... Drake Prince, a junior from High Tech Chula Vista (SD) is the top qualifier in the 800 (1:53.22). State leader Kai Wingo (Valencia/SS) qualified 10th (1:54.21). ... JSerra got both senior Peter Herold and junior Anthony Grover through in the 1600. Grover napped the 12th and final spot in 4:13.30. ... Cathedral sophomore Anthony Taylor got through in the 110 hurdes but missed in the 300s by .04. ... Despite Kenan Christon's impressive anchor leg, Madison's 42.44 in the 4x100 relay ranked just 17th and out of the nine-team championship field. ... Ventura senior decathlete Derek Pekar missed fell short of qualifying in the pole vault but did advance in the long jump and 110 hurdles. ...