A great deal should be learned today about Jenna Prandini's ability to complete the final month of her track and field career at Clovis High.
"She's under a little bit of pressure," Cougars coach Greg Friesen said of the senior All-America sprinter/horizontal jumper who hasn't competed in a month while rehabilitating a tight hamstring.
Oddly, that pressure will be applied today at the Tri-River Athletic Conference championships at Clovis East for Prandini, the Central Section career record holder with nine gold medals and, last year, winner of two golds and a silver at the CIF State Championships at Buchanan's Veterans Memorial Stadium.
But the league meet, while merely a launching point for Prandini in the past, suddenly becomes a qualifying stage of unusual proportions.
Section athletes establish qualifying marks throughout the season for their respective area meets, which then advance top placers to the section finals – officially called the Masters Championships.
The area meets will be next week – specifically, the North Area meet for Clovis on Wednesday at Clovis East.
Here's the catch for Prandini: She has qualified only in the 100 meters because she hasn't competed in her other three events – the 200 and triple and long jumps.
Leg muscles willing, she will compete in all four today, when forecasted low-90 degree temperatures could help loosen the troubling right hamstring.
Her first test could be the toughest – the triple jump at 4 p.m.
"The triple puts the most pressure on her," Friesen said, "so we'll be real conservative, get through it and not worry about other people down the line."
The minimum qualifying standards in the 200 (27.8 seconds), long (15-6) and triple (32-0) jumps are far below Prandini's personal bests.
In the section record book, according to track and field historian Ron Blackwood, Prandini ranks second in the 200 (23.97), third in the long jump (20-2) and first in the triple (41-93/4).
So today will be far more about the cooperation of her hamstring than her ability.
"It's just a health issue," Friesen said, "and if the hamstring holds up, she'll be fine."
He expects it will: "She's pretty healthy. I can't say 100% but close – probably 95%. Up to this point we've been really creative in her rehab with water work and stationary bike.
"She's a really disciplined athlete, and I really think the chances are good she'll get back to where she was, or better – if she stays healthy."
No change in team favorites
Buchanan's boys and Clovis West's girls, the section's defending champions, are armed for more postseason success.
This particularly applies to the Golden Eagles girls, who are ranked second in the state and third nationally by NikeTrackNationals.com.
They lack sprinters' speed but are loaded in the technical events, featuring the Monteverde twins – Alyssa and Anginae – in the hurdles and vertical jumps, and the Okwelogu sisters – Nonny and Nikki – in the throws.
In state rankings, Alyssa Monteverde is No. 1 in the 300 hurdles (41.90), Anginae Monteverde is No. 2 in the pole vault (12-8) and Nonny Okwelogu is No. 4 in the discus (153-11).
Buchanan's boys aren't particularly quick, either, but are loaded in the middle and long distances, led by C.J. Albertson, Cody Brazeal and Kevin Barnard.