The Central Section is among the CIF sections still planning track and field regional and sectionwide championships in June. With all but one of the current CS leaders among the entries, Saturday's West Coast Relays is looking very much like an early preview of those championships
The WCR is held at Veterans Memorial Stadium on the campus of Buchanan High School in Clovis, the usual site of the CIF-State Championships, which, unfortunately, will not be held for a second consecutive year as a result of the lingering Coronavirus pandemic.
However, VMS will be absolutely lit on Saturday when the best of the best of the CS, plus a handful of out-of-section elites, take to the picturesque venue in a showcase of some of the best high school track and field athletes in California.
Among the 61 schools and more than 1,250 athletes entered are CS stars Takiya Cenci (Clovis North), Sydney Sundgren (Buchanan), Lauren Fowler (Buchanan), Emanuel Salas (Sanger), Jacob Yagers (Highland), Miliana Perez (Clovis North), Nick Godbehere (Shafter), Bella Rigby (Liberty), Christopher Caudillo (Clovis), and Caleb Pouliot (Buchanan), among them.
Entrants from non-Central Section schools include hurdler Jadyn Marshall (Stockton St. Marys/SJ), pole vaulter Garrett Brown (La Costa Canyon/SD), mid-distance runner John Lester (Amador Valley/NC), weight thrower Galadriel Mellion (Weston Ranch/SJ), 800-meter runner Nico Colchico (Long Beach Wilson), and weight thrower Sarah Graessley (Carmel/CC), among them.
Cenci, a junior, leads the CS in the 200- and 400-meter sprints, having run PRs in each already this spring. She also ranks CA No. 1 in the 400 (54.81). With Cenci on board, Clovis North also leads the CS in both relays and the Broncos' 3:54.65 in the 4x400 leads the state.
Cenci doesn't figure to have an easy time of it in her two open races (200 and 400), with the likes of Fowler, Mia Bolton (Bakersfield), Tiara Adeniji (Clovis North), Rebecca Vander Poel (Liberty), and Kennedy Jennings (Edison) pushing the pace in the 200, and Adeniji, Vander Poel and Jennings among the challengers in the 400.
Marshall, a junior who went to State in the hurdles as a freshman in 2019, has a 14.14 PR in the 110 hurdles that ranks CA No. 2. Marshall has a season-best of 38.94 for the 300 hurdles, as he's working his way back into track shape following football season.
Sundgren, a sophomore at Buchanan who won both the 1600 and 3200 at the Buchanan Distance Classic a couple of weeks back, is looking to improve on her CS-leading 4:55.29 (CA No. 7) and 10:48.28 (CA No. 13).
Perez, a junior at Clovis North, has gone 4:59.11 for 1600 (CA No. 13) and Clovis East sophomore Erica Nyberg has gone 5:00.48, both top-20 times in CA. In the 3200, Bishop Union senior Sierra Burror (10:54.19) enters as the top threat to Sundgren.
Among Buchanan's 109 entries in this meet, including the aforementioned Sundgren, Fowler, and Pouliot, include distance runners Noah Ray, Bo Olsen, and Sebastian McGeHee-Adams, hurdler Alexa Dandridge and pole vaulter Jordan Leveque.
Olsen is the section leader in the 1600 (4:16.02), Pouliot is the CS leader in the pole vault (15-6), Ray ranks second in the 800 (1:55.68), as does McGeHee-Adams in the 1600 (4:16.59).
Among the Bears girls, Fowler has the state lead in the long jump (19-4) and ranks No. 2 for 100m (11.87/2.1). Dandridge leads in both hurdles (15.48/45.61) and ranks second in the long jump (17-7.5), and Leveque (11-1) has a CS-best in the girls pole vault.
Pouliot will be fun to follow in his mini-multis lineup of the 110 hurdles, shot put, discus throw and pole vault.
Sanger junior Emanuel Salas, the section leader in the 800 (1:53.35), which also ranks CA No. 3. He is also on the books for the 1600 and 4x400 relay. That four-lapper figures to be intriguing with Olsen, Yagers, Caudillo, Amador Valley senior Euan Houston, Buchanan's Brenton Maddox, and Central's Abesolom-Bekele Teffra among those scheduled to take the line.
Amador Valley's Lester, a two-lap specialist, is scheduled to run in just the 400 as he makes his way back from a winter injury while likely eyeing a big two-lap performance on Mother's Day Weekend at Arcadia.
The boys sprints are stacked with CS leaders Nathan Johnson (Clovis, 100m, 10.80/0.3), Imari Conley (Central, 200m, 22.03/nwi), Jeremiah Walker (Central, 400m), and Jake Parnagian (Clovis North, 10.87/21.98) in the center of the track.
Johnson also leads the state No. 2-ranked 4x100 relay team (42.12). Walker's 21.83 ranks CA No. 5 for 200m and his 49.26 ranks CA No. 4 for 400m, while also leading Central's CA-best 4x400 relay team (3:21.87).
Johnson, Conley, Parnagian, and Walker are all entered in the invitational 100m, with Walker, Conley, and Parnagian in the 200m field with El Capitan (SJ) senior Divine Peters and Central junior Cameron Tarver. Tarver's 21.83 ranks CA No. 5 (tie). Peters has a best of 21.91 from 2019.
The girls 800 is stacked with Clovis North's Tatum Zinkin (2:16.36), Perez (2:16.40), Jennings (2:16.99), Vander Poel (2:16.46 PR from 2019), and Nyberg (2:18.82) all scheduled.
Mellion, who has bests of 43-2.25 and 140-1 from 2020, is in a throws field with that includes CS leaders Bella Rigby of Liberty (discus, 152-2) and Clovis East's Feyi Olukanni (shot put, 41-1.25). Rigby's discus throw ranks CA No. 2 and Olukanni's shot mark ranks CA No. 5.
Caudillo, a sophomore at Clovis, has an eight-lap best of 9:08.63, CA No. 13.
The boys throws, while state discus leader Zach Buckey of Garces (CS) is not entered, state shot put leader Nick Godbehere of Shafter is. He has a best of 58-11. The throws fields also include a pair from Bakersfield Liberty, junior Andrew Trottier (161-8 and 54-1 PRs last week), and sophomore Grant Buckey (162-0).
The girls jumps, aside from Fowler, include Buchanan senior Helen Chu and junior teammate Maddie Passmore in both long and triple, and Graessley and San Luis Obispo Helen Hoadley, joining Leveque in the pole vault.
Brown, makes the trip north a couple of weeks after setting a San Diego Section record with a 17-0.75 clearance. The state leader is undoubtedly looking to continue to climb the ladder in preparation for Arcadia.
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