Central Section Track and Field Season in Review

Clovis senior Sydnie Vanek was one of two Central Section girls to repeat as State Meet champions. Vanek won a second consecutive CIF-State long jump title, and Caruthers senior Nailea Fields repeated in the discus throw.

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The CIF-State Track and Field Championship meet takes place in the heart of Central Section territory, Veterans Memorial Stadium on the campus of Clovis Buchanan High School. The home, or very near home, stadium was a bonus advantage for three Central Section athletes who claimed CIF-State titles in 2023.

Two athletes successfully defended their 2022 CIF-State championships -- Caruthers senior Nailea Fields in the girls discus and Clovis senior Sydnie Vanek in the girls long jump. Buchanan senior Hilton Green, 2022 State runner-up in boys pole vault only due to a tiebreaker, this time won the title outright and had a slightly better top mark in 2023.

Aside from those State champions, several seniors closed their high school careers by earning medals in California's biggest and best championship meet.   

Here's an overview review of the Central Section track and field season with athletes of the year selected below. 


Hilton Green jumped the highest. Shane CarrChristian Edwards, and Kyle Hughes jumped the longest. Jose Soto threw the farthest. Nickolas Miller ran the fastest in the sprints and Noah Ray and Zach Weaver were strongest in the middle. Together, these athletes made 2023 a successful senior year for Central Section track and field.

Each medaled in at least one CIF-State Meet final event -- some in two -- and most secured the top CS time or mark in their events this season.

Buchanan's Green was the lone CS boys athlete to win a State title, going 16-6 in the pole vault. Miller, of Clovis North, finished third in State in the 200 (21.02) and went 10.48 for fifth in the 100. Buchanan middle distance runners Ray and Weaver were third (1:52.72) and seventh (1:53.99) in the 800, respectively, and came back later in the State Meet to lead the Bears' inaugural 4x800 State relay team to a third-place finish in a CS record time of 7:39.74. Tulare Western's Soto was second in the State shot put at 60-7.25. Carr of South Bakersfield was second in the State triple jump (47-8.50). Edwards of Liberty Bakersfield was fifth in the long jump (23-2.75). Hughes of Bullard reached the State final in three events, medaling in two, the 110 hurdles (seventh, 14.80) and long jump (ninth, 22-8.75). He was 11th in triple jump (44-11).

While seniors took a final bow, athletes who will return in 2024 made great strides. The battle for section discus supremacy got going this year with Clovis North sophomore McKay Madsen and Buchanan junior Derek Smith finishing second and third, respectively, in the State final. Madsen went 188-1 and Smith 184-4. Madsen also finished seventh in the State shot put (57-4.25) final. Junior distance runners Joshua Bell of Templeton and Carter Spradling of Clovis East finished sixth and 16th in the 3200 State final. Bell won CS Division 3 titles in the 1600 and 3200 and Spradling won the CS Division 1 title in 3200. Both will be top cross-country standouts this fall.

In the relays, Liberty Bakersfield's 4x100 relay -- Brock Wattenbarger, Ethan Mahanke, Ermiah Harrison, and Edwards -- had a CS-best 41.67 in the CIF divisional final, but the foursome, with Xander Chisolm in place of Harrison, did not advance from State prelims. Clovis' 4x400 relay, with Logan Cole, Linkin Woolf, Jacob Saldate and Aidan Coyne, was fifth in the State final with a CS-season best 3:17.19. Buchanan's 4x800 relay team consisted of Ray, Luke Sanders, Ryan Kunkel, and Weaver.


Caruthers' Nailea Fields (discus) and Clovis' Sydnie Vanek (long jump), successfully defend their State championships. Fields went 167-6 while Vanek went 20-7.75 in their respective events.

Other seniors of note ranged from Buchanan's Grace Hutchison double medaling at State in the 1600 (seventh, 4:47.43) and 3200 (eighth, 10:26.22), Buchanan pole vaulter Jordan Leveque finishing second at 13-1, and Loie Madsen of Clovis North taking third in discus (156-5).

Among those who will return in 2024, Edison-Fresno junior Shayne Harris took fourth in the 100 (11.73), Buchanan sophomore Elliana Lomeli was sixth in the 1600 (4:46.82), Peyton Bedrosian, a Paso Robles junior, was fifth in the pole vault (12-9), Righetti junior Kendra Daniels was ninth in the high jump (5-4) and Liberty-Bakersfield junior Bella Turner was ninth in both 100 and 300 hurdles in 14.51 and 44.58.

Buchanan's 4x800 relay team, which had the best time in the state after an 8:59.12 with Hutchison running the first leg at the Mt. SAC Relays in mid-April, finished fourth at State in 9:05.13. Buchanan's State final relay team was comprised of freshman Tayler Torosian, sophomores Sierra Cornett and Lomeli, and senior Sydney Sundgren.

Clovis North, the 2022 State champ in the 4x400 relay, had two returners -- sophomore Emerson Parks and junior Maya Cordoba -- this year and still finished sixth in a CS-best 3:49.34. Sophomores Hayden Craft and Emma O'Neil had the first and fourth spots in the relay with Parks and Cordoba running in the middle.



Central Section Athletes of the Year


Nickolas Miller

Clovis North, Sr., 100-200-400

Miller recorded the top section season time in all three sprint events -- 100 (10.38w), 200 (20.86), 400 (47.37) and ran on the 4x100 relay. Won Division I section titles in 100, 200 and was second in the long jump (22-9.5), though his PR was 23-9.50w at Sanger Metric Classic. He is still undecided on his college plans for this fall.



Hilton Green

Buchanan, Sr., Pole Vault

Captured the CIF-State title with a top mark of 16-6, eclipsing the 16-5 he reached as 2022 State runner-up, although he actually tied State champion, Hunter O'Brien (now at UCLA). Green was second based on a tiebreaker. Green's lifetime PR was 17-1 at this year's CS Division 1 final. He also had a 16-9 mark earlier this year. Green, who also ran on Buchanan's 4x100 relay team that reached the State prelims, will attend the University of Oklahoma.



Grace Hutchison

Buchanan, Sr., 800-1600-3200

The BYU-bound distance runner finished with top section times in the 800 (2:12.53), 1600 (4:45.10) and 3200 (10:26.22). She won CS Division 1 titles in the 1600 and 3200. She ran the 1600 and 3200 in the CIF-State Finals, finishing seventh and eighth, respectively. She ran on Buchanan's 4x800 relay team when it finished with a CS-best time of 8:59.12 at the Mt. SAC Relays. 


Nailea Fields

Caruthers, Sr., Discus and Shot Put

Fields defended her 2022 CIF-State discus title by improving her top mark by more than 10 feet in 2023 (157-1 in 2022, 167-6 in 2023). Her season PR, 167-8, came in the CS Masters Meet a week earlier. The University of Oklahoma-bound athlete was 10th in the shot put, but reached its State final round for the second straight year. She won CS Division 4 titles in both discus and shot put for the second year in a row.

Clovis, Sr., Long Jump

She's going to attend the University of Arizona to play volleyball, but for the second straight season, Vanek captured the CIF-State long jump title. She went 20-7.75 this year in a wind-legal jump (1.2). She had a wind-aided 20-8.5 mark to win the '22 State Final. Vanek also won the TRAC Conference, CS Division 1 and CS Masters titles prior to both of her State championship wins.

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Photos by DeAnna Turner, Raymond Tran, and Dan Tyree

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