Clovis News: Sports

Dream comes true for 2 Redwood High seniors

They called it the California High School Indoor Invitational, with some even billing it as the state championships under a roof.

And while that may have been a bit exaggerated at first for the two-day Run For The Dream Indoor Track & Field Invitational, this was not: Saturday was a Redwood showcase in the prep division at the Save Mart Center.

Rangers seniors Dillon Root and Justin Vilhauer were golden on a day when certainly nothing was guaranteed.

Root -- three months after fracturing a kidney in a football injury that left him hospitalized for four days and bed-ridden for another two weeks -- won the long jump in 22 feet, 6 inches.

"Things are looking up; I'm happy," he said. "I recovered a little early."

Vilhauer, launching his spring season with resolve after a 41st-place finish in the CIF State cross country Division II race in November, ran away from the mile field to win in 4:23.12.

"I have big goals, and I'm well on my way," said the signee of NCAA cross country champion Oklahoma State.

Root, who has signed with Fresno State on a football scholarship, hadn't jumped since last spring before taking one practice jump a day before a Run For The Dream qualifying meet at Kingsburg three weeks ago.

Then he qualified in 22-4, seeding him first among a 19-man field Saturday.

He fouled on his first and last of four jumps, but went 21-111/4 and the winning 22-6 in between.

Last spring, he won the Central Section final in a wind-aided 23-1 and placed sixth in the state at 22-7.

"I'm looking for a high 24 by the end of this season," said Root, whose personal record is 23-31/4. "I definitely have a dream to win state."

In his worst moment, laying on that Kaweah Delta Hospital bed in November, his dream was merely to compete in sports again.

"I was scared," he said. "But when doctors told me I wouldn't need surgery and would be fine in three months, it was a big relief."

Root, a Bee All-Star running back, injured the kidney in the second quarter of a Division II playoff game in which Redwood defeated Hoover 29-22 in overtime.

He wasn't cleared to participate in athletics until Feb. 2, which happened to be the same day he signed with the Bulldogs: "A very good day."

Vilhauer, likewise, is a Ranger enjoying a terrific turnaround.

He got a running start to Saturday's performance by qualifying for next month's World Junior Championships in Spain by placing fourth in a USA Cross County Championship field that included college runners Feb. 5 in San Diego.

That had long been his goal, but the greatest cross country runner in section history was humbled with a 16:00 time in the state D-II final at Woodward Park one year after he set a section record of 15:02 at the same site.

He cited poor priorities and training for the regression, but Saturday he once again was running in a forward lean: "I'm making good strides. Now I've just got to maintain them, continue to work hard and run smart."

Fraley tradition

His great uncle, Bob Fraley, oversaw Saturday's meet, which included junior college and college competition.

His grandfather, Dave Fraley, supervised the boys' and girls' pole vault competition.

His second cousin, Doug Fraley -- a former three-time All-American in the pole vault at Fresno State -- is an assistant coach for John Curtis High, which won a Louisiana state indoor team title a week ago.

"I knew right away I was going to keep the family tradition going," Kyle Fraley said after tying for second in the pole vault at 15-1.

The Lemoore senior entered top-seeded at 16-0 -- tied for sixth in section history.

He began vaulting in third grade: "I always wanted to be out there jumping with the crowd going crazy."

He said he'll likely continue his career at Sacramento State.

OK day for Prandini

Clovis senior All-American Jenna Prandini placed second in the triple jump (40-1) and third in the long jump (18-81/2) in the first indoor competition of her life.

The state's defending champion in both events has personal bests of 41-9-3/4 and 20-2 -- first and third in section history.

"It was supposed to be for fun, but it's hard to convince her of that because she's so competitive," Cougars coach Greg Friesen said. "She'll never be satisfied with second -- ever."

  • Clovis West's top-seeded pole vaulter Anginae Monteverde scratched because of a family commitment that developed late in the week, meet organizer Bob Fraley said.
Related stories from Fresno Bee