Clovis News: Sports

2010 Girls Track & Field All-Star Team

Grade: Junior

She's qualified because: Won four gold medals in the Central Section Grand Masters Track and Field Championships for the second year in a row, increasing her career total to a section-record nine. Then she won two golds and a silver at the CIF State Championships in the best performance by a section representative in the 37-year history of girls competition at that level. In national rankings, she finished the season No. 2 in the long jump, No. 3 in the 100 and triple jump and No. 15 in the 200.

He said it: "I knew she had quality performances in her [in the state finals], but to do as strongly as she did in three events, back to back days? That's performing at an extremely high level, no question. We couldn't have asked for more." – Clovis coach Greg Friesen.

It was the grandest of all stages in America high school track and field – the CIF State Championships at Buchanan's Veterans Memorial Stadium on June 4-5 – and she would not be missed.

"Jenna Prandini now on the runway," public-address announcer Tom Jensen would say without failure for two days as the Clovis High junior approached the long and triple jumps.

Such identification is reserved only for the superstars at a meet of this magnitude.

At Buchanan, in the girls division, there were 26 long jumpers and 25 triple jumpers, but only one Jenna Prandini, at least in this regard: She was the ideal ticket seller – a multiple-event, nationally ranked athlete who happened to be competing in her home town. And Jensen gave 17,358 fans in two days every opportunity to see her.

It was under that microscope and pressure, to say nothing of mid-90 degree heat, that Prandini delivered the finest performance by a section female in the 37-year history of girls competition on the state level.

She won gold medals in the long and triple jumps, and a silver in the 100-meter dash, finishing the season ranked among the top three nationally in each event and a section record-holder in two while earning The Bee's Girls Athlete of the Year honor in track and field for the second straight season.

"It's very, very impressive to put everything together when it matters the most," said Greg Friesen, one of three men who share Clovis' head-coaching position, but the one who works closest with Prandini.

"That's a big part of sports, but especially in track and field. The focus is to be at your best at the end of the season, but it doesn't always happen. I was real confident she would perform at her best in the end, but not knowing how good. I couldn't expect her to be as good as she was."

How good? Only this: The graceful, 5-foot-9 athlete left the state finals top-ranked nationally for all conditions with wind-aided marks of 20-7.75 in the long jump and 42-7.25 in the triple jump, and No. 3 with a wind-legal 11.34 in the 100.

Wind-legal marks for record purposes require a 2.0 meters-per-second or less wind reading. And Prandini, besides the 100, also finished the season with legal national rankings of No. 2 in the long jump (20-2) and No. 3 in the triple (41-9.25).

In Central Section career rankings, she's No. 1 in the 100, 200 (23.97) and triple jump, and No. 3 in the long jump.

Last year, while not ranked quite as highly, she also marched into the state finals highly qualified, only to emerge with but a sixth-place medal in the triple jump.

The difference this season was threefold: She was healthy for the first time in her high school career following hip labrum and hamstring injuries as a freshman and sophomore; improved strength and maturity; and Friesen-designed, pre-state meet preparation that left not a detail in bed.

"I felt in some ways that I let her down last year," he said. "I knew, this year, she was in the best physical shape of her life, so I was not concerned with that. We concentrated on 100% mental preparation the final week before the state meet."

That meant, laying out on typewritten paper, when she would get up, what to eat, times of the meet, when to check in, surroundings, everything.

"That helped me relax," Prandini says. "I did everything as we planned."

Says Friesen: "Everything was laid out in her mind a full five days before the meet. I didn't want her to be surprised about anything."

But even after Prandini blew away the field the first night with one of the most extraordinary preliminary performances the meet had seen in the girls' division, it hardly mattered for it only advanced her to the finals.

The first-day marks – 11.34 100, 20-7.75 long jump and 41-10.5 triple jump – didn't carry over. But the momentum apparently did.

Key to Prandini's championship day show was a 20-5.75 long jump on the first attempt of her first event.

Virtually assured of a gold medal, that allowed Prandini to monitor the competition, ultimately pass on her final five attempts and save her legs for the 100 and triple jump.

There are more good times on the way.

Effective Thursday, NCAA coaches will be allowed to contact Prandini, whose allure includes a 4.0 grade-point average.

Until now, NCAA rules have restricted their contacts to her coaches only.

And, Friesen says, "they're coming at a pretty high pace, that's for sure. The list is overwhelming."

Prandini says she'll not rush the call: "I want a good team with good camaraderie and good coaching. I really want to have a fun team."

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