Clovis News: Sports

Stars shine at Masters qualifying track meet

It's a meet whose sole purpose is to qualify athletes for the Central Section Masters Track and Field Championships on May 22 at Buchanan's Veterans Memorial Stadium.

It's officially called the North Area Meet, and it was run Wednesday at Clovis East simultaneously with other qualifying meets at Kingsburg, Golden West and Liberty-Bakersfield.

The Clovis East event had concluded, the sun was setting, and Clovis West coach Martin Palavicini took a breath and said, "This meet you have a lot to lose and nothing to win. It's frightening for coaches. You've got to be careful."

Yet the meet's stars weren't careful, only brilliant.

All sprinter Jenna Prandini and hurd-ler Alyssa Monteverde had to do was use maybe three of their five gears and coast into the section finals. Instead, they found top gears and improved times that already had ranked among the state's finest.

The same could be said for Buchanan distance dandies Heath Reedy and C.J. Albertson, who not only set personal records in one event, but two. Bullard's Lyndsie Etherton nearly did the same while running away from the 3,200 field. And then there was Buchanan hurdler Sean Johnson, a double defending section champion, who swept his specialties impressively despite vomiting because of the flu during the meet.

But the meet didn't escape heartbreak.

The "frightening" aspect of it was experienced by Edison coach Danny Alberty.

He saw sophomore Jazmine Young pull a hamstring while hobbling through the second leg of the 400 relay, which the Tigers timed a non-qualifying 51.21 seconds while placing eighth in a meet that advanced the top fourth in each event to the Masters.

"One of those days," said Alberty, whose relay arrived top-ranked in the section at 48.52.

And this followed the recent season loss of Je'Nia Sears (hamstring), who was ranked second in the section in the 100 and long jump, and had been a member of the 400 relay.

"One of those years," Alberty said.

Not to suggest all's doom and gloom at Edison.

The Tigers not only won the 1,600 relay in 3:56.61, they did so with four freshmen -- Nailah Harris-Murillo, Tia Edwards, Njeri Omawahleh and Tara Edwards.

But the day belonged to athletes who figure not only to dominate in the Masters, but grace the medal stand as well in the state finals June 4-5 at Buchanan.

Prandini leads the state in the long jump (20-2) and ranks in the top four in the 100 (11.73), 200 (23.99) and triple jump (39-3).

Wednesday, she improved her PR in the 200 (23.97) -- second only to Clovis West's Megan DelPino (23.94, 2008) in section history. And she also won the others -- 100 (11.88), long (19-21/2) and triple (39-53/4) jumps -- a year after she swept the four in the Masters.

"I wanted to qualify, but I wasn't going to be mad if I didn't break any records or anything," said the junior, who did in fact break North Area records in the sprints. "I want to be ready for Valleys because I know it will be tough."

Monteverde, also a junior, improved her 300 hurdles PR from 42.90 to a state season second-best 42.43. Only state defending champion Kori Carter of Claremont (41.99) has run faster.

Monteverde also nearly matched her PR (14.42) in the 100 hurdles by winning in 14.43. She did take it easy in the high jump, qualifying at 5-0 with one attempt before checking out. She leads the section at 5-7.

"The 300 I wanted to push; the others I just wanted to get to Valley," she said. "The 300 is just personal, I don't know. It's my favorite race, and I wanted to do really well."