Buchanan senior Corie Smith cruised to victory at the John Seaman Invite on Saturday.
KINGSBURG -- In one of the last big Central Section invitationals before the postseason march to the State Meet begins, the John Seaman Invitational at the Kingsburg Gun Club offered several explosive performances. With shotgun blasts to start each race, runners like Abel-Rudisha Teffra (Central) and nationally ranked Corie Smith (Buchanan) continued to post solid marks in their senior seasons and lead their teams to top ranking in their respective divisions.
In the Large School Varsity Girls race, Smith cruised through the relatively flat three mile course (about 95% thick grass and hard packed dirt and 5% paved road) in 16:24 with teammate and super freshman Sydney Sundgren not too far behind in 16:49. In a race filled with many of the top individuals girls in the Central Section, Miliana Perez (Clovis North) 16:59, Erika Nyberg (Clovis East) 17:02, Nia Llamas (Sanger) 17:07, and Bullard transfer Rebeca Coronado (Sanger) 17:09 battled for the next four spots. After that, Buchanan showed its team strength with seven of the next nine finishers while normal No. 4 runner, Mia Jauregui, took the SAT exam. The 3-mile times show significant improvement for the Bears from the Woodbridge Invitational at the beginning of the season. Grace Hutchison (17:11), Macee Buckley (17:15), and Morgan Hutchison (17:18) rounded out the scoring five for the No. 2 ranked team in California. With another showdown with Great Oak looming in four weeks, Buchanan will need to continue to improve at the 3-4-5 positions to compete with the Southern Section juggernaut.
With their second place team finish here behind the great front running of Llamas and Coronado, Sanger proved they have become a premier program in the Section. Their matchup against Madera and San Luis Obispo at the Section Championship should be one of the closest team competitions of the meet.
In the Small School Varsity Girls race, an unfortunate wrong turn by leader Clover Cicoletti (Yosemite) erased a large lead and left her with a fifth place finish after being on pace for a sub 18:00 time. She was still able to contribute to her team's victory and should be among the favorites for an individual title at the Central Section Championships, though. With the door left open in the race, freshman Mickayla Mejia (Sierra Pacific) went on to win in 18:50.
Clovis North is the clear boys team to beat in the Central Section this year, but today they ran without four of their normal top seven runners in the varsity race, including three of their top four. Isaiah Galindo and Nicholas Carter were taking the SAT test while Spencer Mueller is resting up for the postseason. In their absence, the Buchanan boys, led by a fourth place finish from Kelly Brewer (14:49), took the team victory in the Large School Varsity Boys race while resting top three runner Ronnie Barrett. Buchanan and Clovis West should battle for the second spot in Division 1 behind Clovis North unless either team can step up to the higher competition.
The Individual race in Large School Varsity Boys was a fierce one with three runners breaking away early and pushing the pace all the way to the finish line. Abel-Rudisha Teffra (Central) pulled away late for the victory in 14:18 after leading the majority of the way. Ethan Jones (Bakersfield Liberty) used a strong surge the last half mile to run 14:24 and finish ahead of Joshua Ochoa (Clovis North) who crossed in 14:27. Teffra should be a podium contender at the State Championships in Division 3 and looks likely to lead his team to a Central Section championship for a school that has been more well known for their sprint success in recent years.
In the Small School Varsity Boys race, Chowchilla (D4) continued to impress with a solid victory over Madera Liberty Ranchos (D5). Both teams are on track to punch their tickets to the State Meet in their respective divisions. In a race with quite a few lead changes along the way, Fernando Hernandez (Mt. Whitney) ran a solid time of 15:28 to pull away from Lionel Aguayo (Lindsay) who finished second in 15:32.
One other result of note belongs to star Clovis High freshman Christopher Caudillo who has been tearing up local frosh/soph competitions this year. His winning time of 15:10 in the Frosh/Soph race today would have placed him eleventh in the varsity race. Caudillo is not allowed to run in varsity races this year, though, due to Clovis Unified transfer rules which are quite a bit stricter than CIF rules.