RECAP Boys Relay Record; Walker, Cenci Win Four at CS Finals


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CLOVIS -- There's only one goal this deep in the high school track and field season -- to take your performances up a notch.

Late Saturday afternoon and evening at Buchanan High School's Veterans Memorial Stadium the top three finishers in each CIF-Central Section Masters Meet event were automatically guaranteed advancement to the May 27-28 CIF-State Championships.

The Fresno Central boys' 4x100 relay team clearly got the message, and, in turn, sent one to all other teams joining them this week. Seniors Jeremiah Walker, Cameron Tarver, and Elijah Lindsey, and junior anchor Imari Conley set a Central Section record and lowered their state-leading time with a blistering 40.63-record performance.

"Our goal at the start of the year was to break 41 (seconds) because we had been inside it a few times last year," Tarver said. "But after doing that five weeks straight this year, we knew the next goal to hit was the valley record. We've got it so now we go to our next milestone."   

Tarver's "milestone" mention, the pursuit of a state title, has eluded Central and all others because 2019 is the last time a CIF-State Championship Meet took place. The COVID-19 pandemic and health protocols forced officials to cancel the 2020 and 2021 state meets. 

In 2022, a desire to compete in a state meet gave plenty of top Central Section athletes. Two standouts, Central's Walker and Clovis North's Takiya Cenci, each won and qualified in four events. They were on both winning 4x100 and 4x400 relays and they won their individual 200- and 400-meter events. 

Walker's winning times were 20.89 in the 200 and 47.27 in the 400. The 4x400 relay team won in 3:18.28.

"It's been a busy day for sure with four events, but I love it," Cenci said. "You never quite sit down or rest and you're always up for the next event."

Cenci, the state 400 leader (53.19), won in 53.40 Saturday. She captured the 200 in 24.02 and ran on winning 4x100 (47.75) and 4x400 (3:47.33) relays. 

"I'm happy I get to do all of these events at the state meet, to be a competitor in them and push myself to get better in them at the state meet," said Cenci, one of the few athletes who will make her second state meet appearance. Her freshman year in 2019 she finished eighth in the 400 final in 55.53.

Walker and Cenci (interview above) were joined by four other athletes who qualified in four events.

Nickolas Miller of Clovis North was on both third-place finishes for the 4x100 and 4x400, was second in the 200 (21.16), and advanced in the 100 with an at-large state standard time of 10.64; Jake Parnagian of Clovis North was also in the relays, and was second in the 100 (10.53) and third in the 200 (21.34); Central's Tarver, advanced in the 100 with a third-place finish in 10.58 and his 21.48 in the 200 met the at-large state standard; and the only other female to qualify in four events was Bakersfield Frontier's Avianna Carrillo. She won the 100 (12.06), finished second in the 200 (24.65) and ran on Frontier's 4x100 relay for third and second for the 4x400 relay.

While those athletes were busy in four events, the Buchanan boys and girls teams were busy pulling together and showcasing depth across the board. 

Despite opening the track portion of the meet with a false start disqualification in the girls' 4x100 relay and not finishing among the top three in the girls' 4x400, Buchanan won four individual girls' events and had at least one finish among the top three in eight. On the boys' side, Buchanan won three individual events and placed at least one state qualifier in six others.

Buchanan, the 2019 girls' state team champion, triumphed Saturday in the 800m with freshman Elle Lomeli in 2 minutes, 11.95 seconds, junior Grace Hutchison going 10:33.70 in the 3200m, and seniors Jordan Leveque at 12-9 in the pole vault, and Madeleine Passmore going 39-1.25 in the triple jump. Other state qualifiers were freshman Sierra Cornett and Hutchison in the 1600m, Layla Clay in the 400m, junior Sydney Sundgren in the 3200m, Chinyere Egbuziem in the shot put, and Nina Navarette in the triple jump.

Buchanan's boys event winners were junior Noah Ray (interview above) in the 800m (1:54.78), Augustus Remlinger in the 300m hurdles (39.57), and pole vaulter Hilton Green went 15-11. Additional state qualifiers were the 4x100 and 4x400 relays, Ray in the 1600m, Hudson Hergenrader in the 110m hurdles, Quincy Patton in the 400m, and Jackson Paramo in the pole vault. Junior Zach Weaver, son of Buchanan Coach Brian Weaver, qualified as a member of the 4x400 relay team.

"Going to the State Meet I like all of the kids we have going in. There's a lot of opportunities to score points, get to finals, get medals and get the experience," Coach Weaver said. "Being that it has been two years without the (state) meet, I hope the athletes truly understand how special it is to be going to a state meet."

Multiple individual winners gained more confidence with their state-qualifying performances.

Arroyo Grande's Daniela Ruelas swept the hurdle events in personal-best times of 14.13 in the 100m hurdles and 43.33 in the 300m hurdles and also tied her PR in the 100-meter dash, finishing second in 12.17. Clovis East's Feyi Olukanni swept the throwing events with a 44-5 in the shot put and 152-11 in the discus. Clovis' Christopher Caudillo doubled up with wins in the 1600m (4:07.57) and 3200m (9:06.14). Shafter's Nick Godbehere swept the boys' shot put (57-6.75) and discus (182-7). 

Winners of one individual event included Bakersfield Highland's Mia Torrecillas in the 1600m (PR time 4:50.51) and who was second in the 3200m; Clovis senior Nathan Johnson, a Utah football recruit, who won the 100m in 10.43 -- after there were two false starts -- and also took second in the long jump; Clovis' Sydnie Vanek won the long jump (19-7.25), Bullard's Claire Predmore took the high jump (5-3), Bullard's Kyle Hughes in the 110m hurdles (14.87); Taft's Bronson Ortlieb won the long jump (23-7.50); Shane Carr of Bakersfield South captured the triple jump (46-8), and Clovis junior Caleb Jackson concluded the night's field events with a 6-4 high jump win.

All other Central Section individuals to qualify for state based on a top-three finish are: Riley Costales from Fresno Central (100 hurdles, 300 hurdles, long jump); Taleeah Hoggatt of Fresno Central (100 hurdles); Isabella Flores from El Diamante (200, 400); Clovis East's Haley Duval (100); Clovis North's Tatum Zinkin (800); Sanger's Nia Lamas (800); Milani Ward of Clovis East (300 hurdles); Caruthers' Nailea Fields (shot put, discus); Peyton Bedrosian of Paso Robles (pole vault); Morro Bay's Ava Burton (pole vault); Loie Madsen of Clovis North (Discus); Arroyo Grande's Madeline Scovil (triple jump); Santa Maria Righetti's Kendra Daniels (high jump); Clovis' Karina Rodriguez (high jump); Clovis' Nathaniel Avila (1600); Sierra Pacific's Nathanael DeMatto (110 hurdles); Clovis North's Payton Mathias (400); Emanuel Salas of Sanger (800); Fresno Edison's Ben Borchers (800); Noel Felix of Fresno Central (300 hurdles); Nipomo's Nathan Gardner (300 hurdles); Milo Skapinsky of San Luis Obispo (3200); Carter Spradling of Clovis East (3200); Shane Bagley of Lemoore (pole vault); Christian Edwards of Bakersfield Liberty (long jump, triple jump); Noah Wright of North Bakersfield (high jump); Clovis North's Tyler Gonos (high jump); McKay Madsen of Clovis North (shot put, discus); Bakersfield Liberty's Andrew Trottier (shot put); Arroyo Grande's William Dawes (triple jump); and Christopher Antunez of Madera South (discus).

Ryan Blystone is a freelance writer and a regular contributor to MileSplit

Photos by DeAnna Turner