Clovis News: Sports

State track and field meet thrives in Clovis

The second running of the CIF State Track and Field Championships this weekend at Buchanan High's Veterans Memorial Stadium will bring considerably warmer weather, another stable of nationally ranked athletes and a Central Section group that could exceed last year's six gold medals.

And, after wowing state CIF officials with its debut, the Clovis Unified-driven event will also bring apparent stability.

Ron Nocetti, the CIF's director of state championship events, said signing another three-year contract with the district following 2011 will be a probable formality.

"All I can go by is the first year and, obviously, it was an incredible success," he said. "The Clovis district, the community support, the Fresno Sports Commission -- everyone involved -- were fabulous.

"Of course, we always put events out for bid. But, assuming Clovis would entertain bidding again, I'd think we'll be very interested in continuing to come back here."

To that, meet director Brian Weaver simply said: "We have the venue, the facility. And the whole idea was: If we're going to build it, use it."

He also said hosting the two-day meet, which is expected to better last year's total attendance of 17,660, is a way of helping businesses that have long sponsored co-curricular activities in the district: "It's giving back a little to their support."

Weaver, Buchanan's track and field coach, and other meet and state officials are confident improved attendance is in order a year after there were some grumblings, particularly to the state's south, about the meet being staged in a high school venue.

And this came despite the fact it had rotated for years between worn facilities without nearly the fan-pleasing amenities (view, concessions, restrooms, parking, etc.) in Cerritos College in Norwalk and Sacramento's Hughes Stadium.

"The word is out from last year and skeptics from Southern California that didn't make the trip will hopefully head up this time," said Carlo Prandini, Clovis North area superintendent and a key player in landing the event in Clovis.

By doing so, he'll now have the opportunity for the second year to watch his daughter, Jenna Prandini.

The Clovis junior, who placed sixth in the triple jump last year, will arrive with state-ranked marks in the 100 meters (11.46), long (20-2) and triple (40-61/4) jumps.

She's top-seeded in the 100, as are Buchanan's Sean Johnson in the 110 high hurdles, Ridgeview's Johnny Carter in the triple jump, Frontier's Matt Darr in the shot put, Clovis' Willy Irwin in the discus, Clovis West's Alyssa Monteverde in the 300 low hurdles and Stockdale's Alex Collatz in the discus.

Other section threats to win golds are Carter in the long jump, Irwin in the shot, Darr in the discus and Prandini in the long and triple jumps.

The six golds in 2009 were matched in the section only in 2008 and with boys only in 1951. Girls competition on the state level began in 1974.

Last year's golds were won by Darr in the shot and discus, Foothill's Chris Schwartz in the 3,200, Mission Prep's Jordan Hasay in the 3,200 and Shafter's Anna Jelmini in the shot and discus.

This weekend, the absence of Hasay and her state meet-record four golds in the 3,200 will be glaring. Also gone is La Sierra-Riverside's Reggie Wyatt, who obliterated the National Federation High School 300 intermediate hurdles record with a 35.02 in the preliminaries before winning in 36.71.

But heat's on the way -- temperatures in the 90s a year after the meet was held in unseasonably cool 70-degree weather -- along with a customary stable of talent from the Southern Section. That section will bring national leaders in Valencia-Placentia's Sean Krinic in the 800 (1:49.19), Serra-Gardena's boys 1,600 relay (3:10.41), Highland-Palmdale's Jessica Davis in the 200 (23.42) and Long Beach Poly's girls 400 relay (45.29).

Related stories from Fresno Bee