Participants Measure Up to Sanger Metric Classic Standards





SANGER -- The 63rd annual Sanger Metric Classic began Friday afternoon at Dodson Field with the lighting of a cauldron. It is a symbolic nod for a meet with history. This event is known to be one of, if not the first high school invitational in California to use metric race distances and follow the lead of the 1976 Summer Olympics.

Another consistency factor for the Sanger Metric Classic is that it is a prime showcase of top Central Section high school athletes and teams late in the season. This year's late May placement on the schedule comes as key league, valley, and section postseason competitions loom.

Friday's action, despite windy conditions for much of the meet, did not disappoint. It produced team titles for Fresno's Central High on the boys' side and Clovis' Buchanan High's girls, recognition for outstanding individual performances, and a bevy of personal, season, and meet records.

It also included half a dozen meet records.

Central won seven boys' events, including both relays, to edge Clovis, winner of five, 117-113.5. Buchanan, winner of nine events and showcasing its depth, won the girls' title with 211 points. Clovis North was second with 103, winning five events, including a relay sweep.

Buchanan sophomore Sydney Sundgren won the 1600 meters in 4 minutes, 51.91 seconds, and notched a personal-best in the 800 in 2:17.05 to finish third to earn the Sanger Metric Classic's Outstanding Girls Track Performer medal. Her time in the 1600 ecliped the previous meet standard of 4:55.09 set by Hannah Benoit (Buchanan) in 2014.

Buchanan teammate Jordan Leveque, also a sophomore, won the pole vault with a mark of 11 feet, 7 inches to secure the Outstanding Girls Field Performer medal.

Sanger High junior Emanuel Salas set a school record with a 4:13.79 time to win the boys' 1600 meters, edging Clovis High sophomore Christopher Caudillo. Salas was named the Outstanding Boys Track Performer. Clovis North High senior pole vaulter Cyprus Rice set a meet and personal-best record by clearing 16-1 to capture the Outstanding Boys Field Performer. The previous meet record was 15-10 set by Mark Unzuela of Lemoore in 1997.

There were plenty of standouts across the board that helped secure team titles and top finishes. 

Central's boys title was highlighted by relay sweeps and multiple efforts in additional events. The 4x100 relay team of junior Cameron Tarver, sophomore Terrell Johnson, junior Jeremiah Walker and sophomore Imari Conley ran it in 41.64 seconds. The 4x400 relay closed out the meet with Conley, Walker, Tarver, and Albert Duarte notching a 3:21.43 time.

Central's 4x100 relay win was close to the school's record and the four athletes said they were happy with the baton exchanges -- "it was our best ever," Walker said to the group -- but they were in focused unison when they indicated, "there's still room for improvement."   

Additionally, Tarver also won the long jump (22-5.5) and finished second in the 100 in a wind-aided 10.55 seconds. Walker won the 400 (50.06) and Conley was third in the 100 (10.74).

Other Central wins came from seniors: Abesolom-Bekele Teffra earned a PR time in the 3,200 with a 9:28.81, Cyreese Riley set a 110 hurdles school-record time in 15.98 (+1.7 wind) and Devin Kelly triumphed in the triple jump in 43-9.5 (+2.5).

Clovis' team runner-up finish was helped by junior Nathan Johnson winning the 100 in 10.52 (+3.0) and earning a personal-best of 21.55 (+1.5) to claim the 200.

"To me it was a really, really good race," Johnson said of his 100 win in which he edged Central's Tarver in an enjoyable and super competitive race. "Cameron and I were neck and neck throughout the race. Going through my mind, I was thinking about the phases at the end. I came out with the win, right at the lean. It was a photo finish, but overall it was a great race from start to finish."

Clovis' other top boys performances came from senior Michael Greco, who won the 300 hurdles in a PR time of 41.16, senior Ayden Merrihew won the discus throw in 167-2, finished second in the shot put with a PR of 55-8.25, and junior Cody Gale's PR mark of 6-1 in the high jump earned him a narrow win over sophomore teammate Caleb Jackson, who also cleared 6-1.

The remaining individual boys' wins were turned in by Buchanan High senior Bo Olsen in the 800 (1:56.51) and Shafter High junior Nicholas Godbehere in the shot put (57-1.25).

Buchanan's girls' title win score was evidenced by its strong multi-event specialists. Although its relay teams finished second to Clovis North, members of both were equally busy winning other events. 

Take seniors Lauren Fowler and Alexa Dandridge. Fowler ran on both relays, but what was impressive is that she won the 100 in 11.74, just shy of her PR and Central Section-leading 11.70. Fowler ran the 100 while also competing in and winning the long jump with a PR mark of 19-1 (+3.4). Her 100m time was wind-legal (1.1 mps) and set a meet record, breaking the previous mark of 11.92 set by Jazmen Bunch of Edison in 2014. 

"I ran my second-fastest time this season and almost a lifetime PR, but I just need to work on finishing and hammering a bit more," Fowler said of the 100-meter dash. "My long jump was good, too, just a few inches off my lifetime best so I was happy with that. There's a lot to fix so I can just keep getting better and better."

Doing both individual events simultaneously was helpful, Fowler said, as she was "springy and warm" from her pre-long jump preparations, doing the 100 race and then returning to secure the long jump win among four jump attempts.   

Dandridge, who ran on the 4x100 relay, also earned a PR of 14.86 (+3.1) to capture the 100 hurdles and then posted a 44.52 to win the 300 hurdles. She was also eighth in the long jump (16-3.5).

Other wins for Buchanan came in the triple jump with senior Helen Chu hitting a mark of 37-5 (+0.4), junior Hannah Butler setting a school record in the high jump at 5-3, and Chinyere Egbuziem, a junior, topping the discus throw in 143-1. Both Chu and Egbuziem finished strong in other events - Chu was third in the long jump, fifth in the 100 hurdles and Egbuziem was second in the shot put - to aid in the team scoring.

Despite finishing second in the girls' team standings, Clovis North put together a strong effort, winning both relays and taking the top spot in the 400, 800 and 1,600. The 4x100 relay team of senior Tiara Adeniji, junior Takiya Cenci, senior Tatum Holloway and freshman Maya Cordoba finished in 47.74 while the 4x400 relay with Adeniji, Cenci, Cordoba, and junior Tatum Zinkin went a season-best 3:51.20.

Cenci, who led the Central Section early in the year with a 54.75 in the 400, led a Clovis North sweep of the top three places. On Friday she went 55.10, followed by Adeniji's season-best 56.89 and Cordoba in 59.69. That time established a meet record, breaking the previous marke of 56.03 set by Njeri Omawahleh of Edison in 2013. Cenci also ran a blistering first leg of the 4x400 relay that essentially ended the race before the first handoff. 

Zinkin won the 800 in 2:15.35 and Clovis North's junior Gianna Bomarito and freshman teammate Kaitelyn Emmons finished 1-2 and both earned PR times in the 3,200. Bomarito won in 11:35.65, followed by Emmons' 11:36.21.

Other girls winning an event were Clovis High sophomore Sydnie Vanek in the 200 with a PR time of 24.80 (+1.5) and Clovis East's Feyi Olukanni in the shot put with a 39-6.5. Vanek also joined the meet record list, breaking the old standard of 26.1 set by Diana Macias of Sanger in 1977.


Ryan Blystone is a freelance writer.

MileSplitCA senior editor Jeffrey Parenti contributed to this report.