As the 2021 spring track and field season continues to evolve out of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are highlighting some of the top track and field athletes to watch this spring. For the purpose of this article on Central Section boys, we rolled back to look at freshmen and sophomores from 2019 and sampled those non-senior marks from the short-lived 2020 campaign to build the foundation of this list.
Boys who have been working hard throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, will no doubt see the fruits of that labor as this spring season rolls out. The Sanger Spring Classic, held last Saturday, gave us a first overview look at some of the standout boys track and field athletes in the Central Section.
We understand that with other sports going on this spring, like basketball, football, and soccer, some athletes may be involved in those sports now with the potential of turning their focus back to TF in a few weeks.
This isn't intended to be a complete list, nor is it a prediction, but rather a sampling of some of the top boys from the CS to watch as the 2021 TF season plays out.
Zach Buckey - Garces (Throws)
Placed fourth in the discus throw (164-09) at the 2019 CS Finals as a sophomore and opened 2021 with a CS-best 159-2 effort at the Black Gold Throwers Championships on March 20. It was well shy of his 170-5 PR set at the same meet before the shutdown of 2020.
Clark Donaghy - Buchanan (Hurdles)
Placed third in the 300s (39.76) and sixth in the 110s (15.17) as a sophomore at the 2019 CS Finals. Is also a receiver on the football team.
Austin Gillen - Buchanan (Sprints)
The Central Section champion for 400 meters as a sophomore, running 48.82 in the finale, already tops the CS after his 49.27 at Sanger, with Jeremiah Walker (listed below) in second. Gillen ran third at Sanger in the 200 (22.60).
Nick Godbehere - Shafter (Throws)
This junior tossed a CS-best 58-3 in the shot at a league dual April 10 after going 57-6 at Golden State Throwers two weeks before. He went 47-3 at two meets in 2019 as a frosh, and 49-7 in his lone 2020 outing.
Jacob Hyatt - Fresno Christian (Jumps)
Hyatt, a senior, went 6-6 in limited opportunities last spring before the shutdown, already over at 6-4 to lead the CS, tied for CA No. 5.
Darien Langley - St. Joseph Santa Maria (Sprints)
As a sophomore, Langley placed fifth in the 100 at the 2019 CS Masters in 10.93 (0.6). Langley, who ran 10.87 PR as a frosh, opened the shortened 2020 season with another 10.93. He is a senior running back on the football team headed to UC Davis.
Ayden Merrihew - Clovis (Throws)
Place fifth in the discus throw (163-11) at the 2019 CS Finals as a sophomore. Marrihew is a defensive lineman on the football team.
Bo Olsen - Buchanan (Distance)
In the just-completed cross country season, Olsen led the section for both 2.1-mile (10:06) and 5,000 meters (15:43.00), both PRs. On the track so far this spring, Olsen has PRs for the mile (4:15.37), 1,600 (4:13.96), and 3,000 meters (9:28.20).
Caleb Pouliot - Buchanan (Pole Vault)
Cleared 14-9 to win the section pole vault title as a sophomore in 2019 after eclipsing 15-0 at the area meet. If last weekend's Spring Classic pole vault competition taught us anything, it's that we're a long way from declaring the best of the CS as two other seniors, Cyprus Rice of Clovis North, and Clark Hobbs of Redwood each cleared 15 feet.
Emanuel Salas - Sanger (Distances)
Salas, a junior, doubled at the Spring Classic, winning the 800 in a state-leading time of 1:54.86, and also won the 1600 (4:16.70). This past cross country season he ran PRs for 2-miles, 3K and 5K.
Cameron Tarver - Central (Sprints/Jumps)
Tarver got out of the gate quickly with two CS-leading performances at Sanger, winning the 100m (11.01/-0.7) and the long jump (21-7/-1.0).
Reid Terry - Redwood (Sprints)
Placed second at the 2019 area qualifier in both the 100 (11.02/04) and 200 (22.55/0.7). Last year he ran 22.73 at the Spring Classic before the shutdown. He's also a receiver on the football team and a defender in soccer.
Andrew Trottier - Bakersfield Liberty (Throws)
Already this spring, the junior has PRs for the shot put (52-2) and discus throw (158-9). Both are among the top 10 statewide.
Jeremiah Walker - Central (Sprints)
As a freshman in 2019, placed fourth in both the 200 (22.26) and 400 (50.29) at the section finals. He ran second to Austin Gillen last week at Sanger, crossing in 51.81.
Jacob Yagers - Highland (Distance)
Section's top returning distance runner and defending 1,600-meter champion from the 2019 CS Finals where he ran 4:17.05. Yagers, who won the CS D2 cross country title in 2019 and placed 11th at the State Meet, went undefeated in three cross country duals in March.
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