CIF-CENTRAL SECTION TRACK AND FIELD
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Seniors Takiya Cenci, Nathan Johnson, Jeremiah Walker, Nick Godbehere, and juniors Christopher Caudillo, Grace Hutchison, Noah Ray, and Sydney Sundgren are just a sampling of the many headliners for Saturday's CIF-Central Section Masters track and field meet at Buchanan HS.
Cenci, who recently signed with USC, is among the nation's best long sprinters and leads the Clovis North's strong 4x1 and 4x4 relay teams. She is the defending section champion in the 200m and 400m. Her 400m season best of 53.19 ranks U.S. No. 5 and her 200m best of 23.90 (1.3) ranks CA No. 5. She is the key leg on the state's No. 3-ranked 4x400m relay team (3:46.56).
Johnson, a senior at Clovis headed to Utah to play quarterback for the football team, is the section leader and defending champion in both the 100 meters and long jump. He ranks CA No. 5 for all-conditions 100m (10.36/2.0), and CA No. 5 for all-conditions long jump (24-1/2.3).
Walker has been one of the state's elite long sprinters while leading a strong Fresno Central 4x1 and 4x4 relay crew. He ranks CA No. 4 for 200m (20.80/3.2), No. 9 for 400m (47.88), and is a vital leg on the Central 4x1 relay team that ranks CA No. 2 (40.83), and the 4x4 quartet that ranks CA No. 4 (3:18.16).
Godbehere, a senior at Shafter, is the defending section shot put champion and one of the state's top combo throwers. His discus throw best of 189-5 ranks CA No. 5, and his shot put best of 63-4.25 ranks CA No. 4.
Caudillo is another from the strong Clovis High boys squad, looking to make noise beyond this week, as the section leader and among the state favorites in the distances. He is entered in the 800m, 1600m, and 3200m here. His 4:03.83 best for 1600m ranks CA No. 5 and his 8:54.19 for 3200m ranks CA No. 4 in an event where the top three are no longer competing in CIF.
On the girls side, Hutchison and Sundgren lead a deep and young Buchanan distance group. Sundgren was the runner-up in both the 1600m and 3200m at last year's Masters. Hutchison (4:49.75) and Sundgren (4:50.18) rank CA Nos. 11 and 12, respectively, for 1600m. Hutchison ranks CA No. 6 for 3200m (10:17.80) with Sundgren No. 10 at 10:21.73.
Ray, a junior at Buchanan, ranks tied for CA No. 6 for 800m (1:52.66) and No. 13 for 1600m (4:11.20).
To get to the state's first Memorial Weekend championships, athletes and relay teams in the Central Section must first qualify by placing among the top three in their event. Others may also qualify by hitting the state's at-large standard.
Field events begin at 4 p.m. with track events at 5 p.m.
The last time there was a State Meet, back in 2019 when all of these seniors were freshmen, Clovis North won the boys title and Buchanan won the girls title. Teams in the CS in 2022 have top-end talent and depth to challenge to keep those CIF-State Championship plaques in the Central Section.
But that's next week. This is Championship Week across the state with section championships and State Meet qualifying going on from San Diego to a few miles on a windy country road west of Redding, from Gilroy to Veterans Memorial Stadium in Clovis.
Other standouts to watch this afternoon and evening at Buchanan include Central senior Cameron Tarver, a runner-up last year in the 100m, 200m and in the long jump, although he's not competing in the horizontal jump here.
Selma sophomore Malachi Carrasco was a section champion in the high jump last season as a freshman. While North Bakersfield senior Noah Wright comes in with the top qualifying jump, Carrasco still leads the section at 6-6.25. He will also be looking for one of those State Meet qualifying spots in the triple jump.
Weight throwers Feyi Olukanni, a senior at Clovis East, is among the state's best and the defending section shot put champion with bests of 44-5.50/153-7. Caruthers junior Nailea Fields, the top qualifier in the discus throw, is the state leader at 162-7. She has a best of 40-9.50 in the shot.
Buchanan's senior trio of girls jumpers: Madeleine Passmore, the defending triple jump champion (with a season best of 37-10.75), Hannah Butler, among state leaders in the high jump (best of 5-8), and Jordan Leveque, among the state's elite 13-foot pole vaulters
The girls hurdles battle involves the Central junior duo of Taleeah Hoggatt and Riley Costales, and Arroyo Grande senior Daniela Ruelas in the 100s, and Ruelas, Costales and Central senior Bella Gragnani in the 300s. Hoggatt's best of 14.72 (1.3) ranks CA No. 13 with Ruelas' best of 14.74 (1.4) at No. 14. Ruelas has gone 43.78 in the 300s (CA No. 7) with Costales at 44.07 (CA No. 9).
Clovis North is more than just Cenci. UCLA-signee Miliana Perez is strong in the distances, San Diego State-signee Tatum Zinkin is among the state's best in the 800m (2:11.72), and junior Ashlyn Leath in the distances (5:02.17/10:33.47).
Unfortunately, the defending section champion and one of the state's best in the high jump, Clovis North junior Peyton Bitter, was injured before the season and has not been able to compete this outdoor season.
Six more to watch:
- Clovis junior Sydnie Vanek, the defending champion in the long jump and ranks tied for CA No. 8 with a best of 19-4 (2.2).
- Clovis North sprinters Jake Parnagian and Nickolas Miller. Parnagian, a senior has short sprint bests of 10.52 (CA No. 12, wind legal) and 21.24 (CA No. 8 wind-legal, and 21.11/3.2 for CA No. 9 all conditions). Miller, a junior, has run 10.51 and 21.00.
- Buchanan junior pole vaulter Hilton Green, who ranks CA No. 4 at 16-5.
CIF-CS MASTERS MEET PROGRAM
Photos by DeAnna Turner