Gateway to Something for Everyone

CLOVIS -- Everyone competing at Friday's Gateway to Track and Field Invitational at Clovis East High School seemed to be looking for something.

Many of the CIF Central Section's best performers who shined at last week's big Arcadia Invitational sought to build momentum. Many local teams had competed in league dual meets two days before Gateway, so this was an opportunity to try alternate events. Others, in this Covid-19 affected season that has cancelled meets and altered postseason plans, were simply happy to compete.

The Gateway meet, which shifted from its normal host site, Buchanan High's Veterans Stadium, to Clovis East High due to the former serving as the Mountain West Conference's college championships site this weekend, didn't faze Buchanan senior distance runner Bo Olsen.  Olsen set a school record in the 800 meters and came back later to win the 3,200. His winning time of 1 minute, 53.10 seconds lowered the school's previous best by more than a second (1:54.9).

"A couple weeks ago, I broke two (minutes) for the first time, ran a 1:58, then I ran a 1:55 split at Arcadia (in the 4x800 relay) and that was huge for me and I was very happy," Olsen explained. "Then today I was able to run a fresh 800 and I just did what I could do and gave it my best." Coaches and fellow runners had talked about wanting to see the record fall. Olsen's effort took care of it. "It's definitely a confidence boost. Everyone's been trying to break it for some time now. It's been out of reach for a couple of years … but I just knew that I was never going to count myself out," he said.

In the 3,200, Olsen ran a 9:32.70 to complete a two-event, two-win day. Christian Navarette, another Buchanan senior, won the 400 in 50.71 and he ran the third leg of Buchanan's winning 4x400 relay (3:27.72).

Yet another two-event, two-win performer was Concord De La Salle High junior Anthony Trucks in the 110 and 300 hurdles. Trucks was happy just to compete as De La Salle has battled through some inactivity and the coronavirus-laced decision to cancel CIF North Coast postseason meets. Trucks made the most of his chances by winning the fastest of three 110 hurdles heats in 15.20 seconds. He had the top mark in the 300 hurdles, which had four heats, in 40.97.

On the girls' side, Buchanan senior Lauren Fowler was a three-event, three-win performer. She won the 200 in 24.41 and helped Buchanan sweep the 4x100 and 4x400 relays with times of 48.19 and 3:58.23, respectively.

In the field events, two visiting standouts outside of the Clovis area performed well. Shafter High junior Nick Godbehere, who owns the Central Section's top shot put mark (61 feet), went 59-1.75 on Friday, his second-best mark of the season. His PR came earlier this month at the West Coast Relays at Buchanan High. "It's another great meet, another chance for throwing far, some great guys out here, great competition," said Godbehere, who has the full support and built-in coaching expertise of his parents, both former collegiate shot put competitors. Godbehere continues to work on technique, but among his throws on Friday, things looked well in order. His sights are set on stretching his PR mark in the coming weeks, but he's taking things "one throw, one inch at a time."

Another athlete who came to Clovis, enjoyed the surroundings and even embraced the heat, was San Diego's La Costa Canyon High senior pole vaulter Garrett Brown. Fresh off winning at the Arcadia Invitational, Brown cleared 16-9 on his third attempt Friday and then raised the bar for three attempts at what would have been a PR of 17-2, but fell just short.   "Basically, I've been looking for meets to jump in and I heard this was a pretty good place to jump," Brown said. "There's great tailwinds and a nice runway so we decided to make the trip up. It was a long drive up here, but it was definitely worth it. I had a really close attempt at 17-2 on my second attempt using the biggest pole I had." Brown, who is the top pole vaulter in CIF San Diego Section and throughout California, notched his current top mark of 17-1 in a league dual meet earlier this season.

Other top field event performances included Clovis East junior Feyi Olukannai winning the girls' discus (137-4) and reaching 40 feet even in the shot put; Buchanan sophomore Jordan Leveque went 11-9 in the girls' pole vault; and Clovis High senior Ayden Merrihew outdistanced the boys' discus field with a 174-9. 

A number of elite performances, according to MileSplit's tracker, were achieved on Friday. They included Buchanan's Sydney Sundgren setting a PR by two seconds to win the 1,600 in 4:51.84 and Edison's Kennedy Jennings triumphing in the 800 in 2:14.78 on the girls' side. Among the top boys' marks were Clovis High's Christopher Caudillo's 4:11.59 to win the 1,600 and Central High's Jeremiah Walker winning the 200 in 21.20, one of four standouts in the top heat race.

The narrowest victory of the day came in the boys' 100. Central High's Imari Conley, a sophomore, edged De La Salle senior Paul Mccants, 10.65 to 10.66. Later, in the 200, Conley and Mccants were third and fourth, respectively, in their lightning-quick heat with Central's Walker. Conley had a 21.57 while Mccants went 21.59.