RECAP Athletes Rewrite Record Book at Sanger Metric Classic

Noah Ray won the 800-meter race with a record time as Buchanan dominated the Sanger Metric Classic.


Recap Credit: Dominic Esquivel

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SANGER - It is not every day records are broken, especially a 56-year-old record.

But that's what happened Friday night in the 65th Sanger Metric Classic at Dodson Field where Buchanan (CS) senior Noah Ray shattered a two-lap meet record that had stood since 1967.

Ray, University of Arizona recruit, took off fast in his 800-meter race, kept a smooth, viscous pace, and closed with a time of 1:53:13, holding off outstanding Clovis East junior Carter Spradling, who was second in a 1:55.30 PR.

While Ray was a big off his 1:51.97 PR from the APU Distance Meet of Champions a month ago, it was the fastest ever at this meet since Lemoore's Bob Newton ran 800 meters in 1:53.8 (hand-timed) in 1967.

Ray's performance set the tone for an impressive Buchanan team sweep of one of the first high school invitationals in California to use metric race distances. That was a progressive idea of then-Sanger coach Dave Dodson and metric distances have been used at this Central Section showcase event since 1976.

Temperatures peaked around 80 degrees at Friday's meet that saw both Buchanan teams score 183 points among the 17 events contested..

Ray was among a handful of athletes who were recipients of outstanding performance awards. Those included Carruthers (CS) senior Nailea Fields, the defending CIF-State champion in the discus throw, rewrote the meet record book in that event with a throw of 156-03 that moves her to No. 2 in the state. She broke the 2017 mark of 154-05 set by Fowler's Jocelyn Budwig. Fields completed her throws double with a winning mark of 38-08.25.

Leading the way for Buchanan's girls were college-signed seniors Grace Hutchison and Jordan Leveque.

BYU-bound senior Grace Hutchison tore up the track, cruising to a win while solidifying her name in the stadium, and meet record books with an outstanding time of 4:49:16 in the girls 1600m event. It was her third sub-4:50 this season and broke her own stadium record (4:50.89) from last year and teammate Sydney Sundgren's 2021 meet record of 4:51.21. She also joined her sophomore sister Avery, sophomore Ellie Dimitrashchuk, and freshman Lily Olsen on the winning 4x800-meter relay team (9:36.27).

The San Diego State-bound Leveque "came in today ready to score points," for her team. She did just that winning three events:  100-meter dash, 200m and pole vault. In the 100m, her 11.99 (1.7) is a PR. She followed with a 25.11 (1.7) in the 200m and cleared 12-3 to win the pole vault. 

Hutchison wasn't the only member of one of the nation's elite distance programs to score big for the Bears. Sophomore Elliana Lomeli won the 800m (2:17.35 with Sundgren just behind at 2:17.53), placed third in the 1600m behind Hutchison and Sundgren (4:54.60), running 4:55.17, and she teammed with freshman Tayler Torosian, sophomore Sierra Cornett, and senior Megan Clenney on the winning 4x400-meter relay team (4:02.76).

Buchanan, which finished the cross country season as a repeat CIF-State Division 1 champion and U.S. No. 3 overall ranking after Nike Cross Nationals, showed off that distance depth in the 3200, taking the top four places. Senior Caroline Mendyk led the Bears parade in 11:00.78, followed by junior Stefania Sesock (11:15.29), freshman Kynzlee Buckley (11:17.18) and junior Riley Burgess (11:23.70). 

As was the case with the girls, the Buchanan boys had plenty of contributors to the points haul.

Ray teammed with senior Zach Weaver and juniors Henry Baxter and Andrew Magnuson on the winning 4x400m relay team (3:23.96), the Arizona State-bound Weaver won the 1600m (4:15.85), and Baxter won the 200m (22.11/1.3) and placed second in the 400m (50.64) behind Central freshman Emanuel Morgan (49.90).

Speaking of the Class of '26, Buchanan's frosh Donovan Dunmore won the 100m dash (10.82/2.4), and placed second in the 200m (22.12/1.3). Both are PRs.

Buchanan also got event wins from senior Hilton Green in the pole vault (15-03) and junior Derek Smith in the discus throw (174-08). Smith edged Dinuba junior Julian Ramirez (172-06) and Clovis North sophomore McKay Madsen (172-02) in the discus. He also PR'd in the shot put at 55-03.25 for third behind the Clovis North duo of junior Brayden BItter (56-11.75) and Madsen (56-08.50). 

The Bears went 1-2 in the 3200m with sophomore Luke Sanders winning in 9:27.38 followed by junior Ryan Kunkel (9:33.97). Clovis East sophomore Mark McAleenan was third in 9:36.53.

Clovis East edged Clovis West by four points for second place among 18 girls teams. Central was a definitive runner-up ahead of Clovis East and Clovis North among 21 boys teams that scored. 

What Buchanan's girls did in the 3200m, the Clovis East girls nearly duplicated in the 100m hurdles, going 1-3. Junior Milani Ward won the race in 15.40 (-1.0) with sophomore Indiana Davis next in 16.06 and senior Kylie Ward crossing in 16.14. Milani Ward also won the 300m hurdles race in a season-best 46.38 with Buchanan freshman Reyna Estes next in 48.24 and Reedley frosh A'Aliyah Matlock crossing in 48.63.

East also took the top two places in the triple jump with senior Alyssa Murillo winning with a PR of 37-08.40 (2.9) and Kylie Ward placing second in 35-11.50 (1.9). And Davis won the high jump (5-4)

Other girls performances included Clovis West sophomore Kylie Benson winning the long jump with a best of 17-05.00.

Other boys performances included Clovis West senior Jaih McElroy placing second in the 100m dash with a time of 10.96.

Central junior Samuel Agbakoba won the triple jump with an explosive three-peat pounce of 44-05.50. Agabakoba noted his growth this year highlighting that he made a "Six-feet PR this season."

Sprint star Nickolas Miller of Clovis North took a meet away from the blocks and instead elevated his way to victory with a sand-spray landing in the long jump of 23-09.50 (2.5). The state's No. 2-ranked 200m sprinter and No. 3-ranked 100m sprinter now also ranks CA no. 2 in the long jump. Miller also teammed with juniors Frank Solis and Andrew Chavez, and freshman Davis Williams on the winning 4x100m team (42.29). 

Central junior Noel Felix swept the hurdles winning the 110m event in 14.69 (1.7) to beat Buchanan sophomore Hudson Hergenrader (14.78), and he won the 300m hurdles in a season-best 39.17 to beat Sanger senior Han Yotoun (39.92).

A quartet of Yosemite's Central Section divisional championship cross country team of sophomore Jack Olney, Anthony Ruiz, Ford Stegge, and junior Noah Graffigna won the 4x800m relay in 8:13.37. 

Dominic Esquivel is a Fresno-based freelance writer

California MileSplit State Editor Jeffrey Parenti contributed to this report

Photos by DeAnna Turner