The Discus Was Quite The Show On Day 1 Of The CIF State Meet

* Buchanan's Derek Smith launched a career-best mark on Friday in the discu

Photo Credit: DeAnna Turner

CLOVIS -- The discus area at Buchanan High School is far removed from the big bleachers and fanfare that envelope Veteran's Memorial Stadium's track.

But if the preliminary performances at the CIF State Championships on Friday were a measuring stick for true entertainment value, the boys discus was must-see viewing ahead of Saturday's finals. 

Competing in the second grouping of the day, Buchanan senior and UCLA signee Derek Smith entered as the second-to-last thrower in the lineup, but he made the first noise of the competition when he delivered a whopping 206-11.

The mark gave him a personal best mark, the Buchanan school record and instantly the best mark in the state this season. It was also his first throw over 200 feet.

"It felt awesome," Smith said. "I knew that when it left my hand I knew it would be a good throw but I just watched it fly through the air, it was soaring, and I just stuck my arm up in celebration."

His new best mark shattered his previous PR of 195-3, which had been set just last week at the CIF Central Section Masters Meet at, you guessed it, the same discus area at Veteran's Memorial Stadium.

"It means everything, that's my baby right there, I've had four years here," Smith said expressing his fondness for a discus space. "I love championship season and I think I perform pretty well under pressure. Having all of the best people here in one place just makes me want to throw far."

Smith's massive effort was important as it started a domino effect of personal bests for others in the field. First and foremost, Clovis North's McKay Madsen whose turn was right after Smith's, countered with a 201-10 effort to end the first round of throws.

Madsen's effort was impressive and it marked the second time in a week that he had a 200-plus foot throw in a CIF postseason meet. He had a 204-2 mark to finish first in the Central Section Masters Meet on May 18 and defeat Smith.

But on Friday, Madsen was both happy for his friendly rival and added in a dash of sarcastic humor.

"Derek threw a bomb and that was crazy. It's awesome for him. I was waiting for it to happen. And then I followed up with a much lesser 201-10," he said with a smile and laugh.

Madsen wasn't the only one who got motivated. There was also Paloma Valley senior Jayden Epps. He was able to stick a 194-9 and his reactions were noteworthy.

Zach Lewis of Pacifica Garden Grove went an impressive 190-4 and Amador's Eliot Traxler was another enthusiastic performer, reaching 184-6.

"Seeing the first flight, second flight guys all have massive PBs and throwing great, made me warm up harder and be more intent on my first throw, to get one out there and make sure I'll get six more throws tomorrow (Saturday)," Smith said.

Twelve discus throwers advanced, from Smith's 206-11 to Argonaut's Jake Todden's 168-10. Epps, in particular, was a bright spot. His effort enabled him to raise his season PR significantly from his previous best of 175-9.

"He had a huge day," Madsen said of Epps. "He was pumped up. I loved his energy, he was yelling everywhere. That's what the throwers need. Some meets we lack it and the marks show it."

Epps, who actually fouled on his third and final throw and it still landed at the 200-foot mark. The latter's post-performance joy was palpable.

"I just thank everyone who believed in me to get here," Epps said. "I have so much love for everybody, the city, my coaches, teachers, my parents. I thank God for allowing me to be here. I never thought I'd be here for any reason. I'm just a kid from Inglewood, California, moving up and now I'm at the CIF State Championship meet. I thank God and pray that tomorrow, even it doesn't go the way I want it to, I'm still glad I made it here because not everyone gets to be here."

A Quality Start For Johnson, But Now Comes The Hard Part


Aja Johnson, who is the best remaining discus thrower on the girls side, fouled on her first two attempts in the prelims before uncorking a 152-8 on her third and final attempt.

It was good enough to finish second behind top prelims finisher Sol Bitners of Davis, who went 153-5 on her second throw.



In the 103 previous years of the CIF State Track and Field Championships, there's never been a freshman boy who has won the 100 meter championship.

On Friday, only one freshman advanced to Saturday's final, Long Beach Poly's Benjamin Harris. He won the second of three heats in 10.52 to earn an automatic berth, but Harris has been a solid contender all season long. His PR is a 10.38 set at the Arcadia Invitational on April 6.

One of the event's favorites, Bishop Alemany's Demare Dezeurn, did make it out of the first round, running 10.50.

A Refined Focus For Humphries In 2024

Last year at this time, Castaic's Meagan Humphries was in the midst of a busy weekend at the state meet. The 2023 CIF-Southern Section Division 3 champion in four individual events -- high jump, long jump, triple jump and 200m -- qualified in all four at the state meet.

She wound up medaling in all four, too.

While she didn't win a title, she was the runner-up in two events, long and triple jump.

In 2024, Humphries is back at the state meet, but competing in two events. She advanced to Saturday's long jump and triple jump finals.

She had a 19-6.25 long jump, the second-best mark. She then went 39-3.75 and earned the fourth-best mark in the triple jump. Humphries who has committed to University of Texas, enters the state finals with season PRs of 20-0 in long jump and 39-9.5 in triple jump.

A Duel Shaping Up Over The High Bar


Joshua Harel and DeShawn Banks are the top two boys high jumpers in the state this year. Harel went 7-0.25 to win a CIF-Southern Section Division title a few weeks ago and Banks' top mark of 6-11 has been among seven different meet jumps for him at 6-10 or more this season.

Harel has done 6-10 or better in three different meets.

On Friday, both went 6-6 to advance to Saturday's final.

Could we see one or both reach 7 feet? Will there be another 6-10 or better effort by Banks or, perhaps one of the others to do that, either Brandon Cheeks II or Sebastian Ikolo of Los Angeles Fairfax?