Buchanan senior Corie Smith was a run-away winner at the Kingsburg 2-Mile Invitational, setting a course record as she prepared for next weekend's Woodbridge Invitational. (Credit: Pat Rhames)
KINGSBURG -- Buchanan High School and Clovis High School came to the Kingsburg 2 Mile Invitational on Saturday with two significantly different objectives.
Buchanan, with a veteran coaching staff and much recent success, is ranked 1st in the Central Section and 3rd in the State (D1), was looking to sharpen up and decide varsity teams for next weekend's Woodbridge Invitational.
Clovis High, with a new coach (Eloy Quintana) and a bit of a dry spell the past few years, was looking to prove that they have been overlooked this offseason and are ready to compete for a State Meet birth immediately.
Both teams achieved their objectives in impressive fashion on the flat two-mile layout that features at least a dozen 90 degree turns that slowed the runners down enough to make it a challenge. A merge of all four age group races put the same three teams on top for the day.
For the girls, Buchanan averaged 11:06 for their top five and had 10 girls under 12:00 with two potential varsity runners sitting this one out. Last year, Buchanan averaged 11:17 with only five girls under 12:00.
Clovis High averaged 11:47 and looks to have a very good chance to challenge Clovis West and McFarland for a D1 State Meet entry.
Monache averaged 11:57 in a strong showing that should give them confidence when facing the other D1 Central Section teams in November.
On the boys' side, Buchanan averaged 9:53 for their top five and should take that momentum into the season with eyes on some big upsets later in the year.
Clovis High averaged 10:08 and while this year may be tough to crash the top three spots in D1 for the Central Section, they have a great young core of freshmen and sophomores that should set them up well for the future.
Monache was strong again with their boys averaging 10:11 and just like Clovis High, will need to show significant improvement this year to run at Woodward Park on Thanksgiving weekend.
The freshman girls race provided the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th fastest times of the day and the closest finish of any girls' race. Erica Nyberg (Clovis East), Sydney Sundgren (Buchanan), and Emma Ruvalcaba (Clovis High) pulled away early in the race and stayed in that order to the finish line. Sundgren tried to close the gap un the last 400 meters, but Nyberg held her off to lead the trio to very impressive times of 10:50.90, 10:54.61, and 11:03.11. For reference, former Buchanan star Meagen Lowe ran 10:43.79 on the same course last year.
The freshmen boys race provided the closest finish of the day when Noah Ray (Buchanan) outlasted Isaiah Watkins (Clovis High) 10:17.26 to 10:18.20. Ray led the first mile and Watkins took the lead after that only to have Ray retake the lead late in a great sprint to the finish. The Clovis High boys were impressive even without top freshman Chris Caudillo racing.
In the sophomore girls race, Kaylee Elliott (Buchanan) led from start to finish, just as she did last year, to win in an uncontested (if you don't count the car that pulled in front of her in an alley and blocked her path during the first mile) time of 11:20.78. Teammate Allison Yee (Buchanan) worked her way through the pack after a slow start to pull away for a strong second place finish in 11:58.47.
During the sophomore boys race, the trio of Nathaniel Avila (Clovis High), Brenton Maddox (Buchanan), and Ian Queenan (Monache) led the race early, but with a half mile to go it was down to just Avila and Maddox. Avila used a strong last 200 meters to win going away in 9:57.31 and be the second repeat champion of the day.
Maddox finished in 10:04.49, a thirty-five second improvement from last year, while Queenan came in with a 10:12.58. Just behind him was Robert Kirkman (Buchanan) in 10:17.24 which was over two minutes faster than last year.
In the Junior Girls race, Morgan Hutchison (Buchanan) led the race for most of the first mile until Aislin Taylor (Monache) flexed her muscle and pulled away for the fifth fastest time of the day in 11:16.62. Hutchison hung on for second ahead of teammate Jariah Lopez (Buchanan) with times of 11:47.84 and 11:55.39 which ended up being Buchanan's seventh and eighth fastest runners of the day.
The junior boys race was another extremely close race from start to finish with a very tight sprint finish between Bo Olsen (Buchanan) and Adrian Martinez (Monache). Olsen made a strong move with 300 meters left to pull into the lead and was able to hold off Martinez 9:53.26 to 9:54.49. Behind them was another close battle between Bernard Jackson (Clovis East), who just missed breaking ten with a time of 10:00.80, and Sebastian McGehee-Adams (Buchanan) who ran 10:02.63.
Just like teammate Elliott earlier, Corie Smith (Buchanan) led from start to finish in the senior girls race winning by a full minute in a course-record time of 10:26.67 during a fast but controlled effort. Smith is excited to take on some of the best runners in the nation next weekend at Woodbridge after a disappointing end to the 2018 XC season.
Fellow Bears, Mia Jauregui (Buchanan) and Rachel Culver (Buchanan), worked together the first mile, but Jauregui pulled away in the second half of the race to take second in 11:27.52 ahead of Culver's 11:42.35.
The last race of the day was the senior boys and Brian Trujillo (Clovis High) and Kelly Brewer (Buchanan) ran together for the first mile and a half just ahead of another pack of boys. When they came back into view with 300 meters left, Brewer had taken a commanding lead and finished with the fastest time of the day in 9:39.13. Rising 800 meter star Ronnie Barrett (Buchanan) showcased an impressive kick late to catch Trujillo which led to the second and third fastest times of the day, 9:50.77 and 9:53.17.