Clovis News: Sports

Athletes shine on opening day of state meet

1:15 p.m.: Today's finals of the state CIF High School Track and Field Championships at Buchanan High School are a definite go, despite the rain.

Meet director Brian Weaver said late this morning that the finals will begin as scheduled at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Clovis.

Competition is scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m. with the boys discus.

"Come on out," Weaver said to fans while standing on the stadium's all-weather track. "If you like to see good competition, the weather shouldn't be a deterrent."

Meet officials at about 11:15 a.m. today obviously were hoping the rain would pass through by late afternoon. But just in case, they were making plans.

Weaver said the grounds crew has eight backpack leaf-blowers that will be used to blow water off the track. He said a Zamboni-like machine also will be used to dry the track before races.

About a dozen meet officials this morning were putting up canopies on the grass infield so athletes and scorekeepers can stay dry. If the weather does break by the start of the meet, Weaver said, workers will use the leafblowers to remove water from benches in the grandstands.

Weaver said experienced track-and-field athletes of any age learn early how to compete at their best in tough conditions.

"Being an athlete, you have to be able to handle adversity at any time and no matter the weather," Weaver said.

Meet officials had been expecting a record crowd for tonight's finals.

"The rain puts a damper on that," said Carlo Prandini, the Clovis North area superintendent and one of the meet's coordinators.

This is the third straight year that the state meet has been held at Buchanan. The finals drew crowds of 9,517 in 2009 and 9,572 in 2010.

Prandini, a major player in getting the meet originally to Clovis, said the leafblowers also will be concentrated in the shot put and discuss rings and launching points of the high jump. He said brief suspensions of field events can be expected as surfaces are treated with the blowers.

Clovis High School's Jenna Prandini, a gold medalist last year in the long and triple jumps who has signed with the University of Oregon on a track and field scholarship, said she isn't dismayed by the damp weather.

"Well, this is the way it's going to be in Oregon, right?" said Jenna, daughter of Carlo Prandini.

-- George Hostetter and Andy Boogaard

This is the ticket seller, the big investment of a fan's 10 bucks. It's the marquee event in track and field – the 100-meter dash.

History supports this, and Clovis High's Jenna Prandini and Covina's Remontay McClain will attempt to stamp their legacies in today's finals of the CIF State Championships at Buchanan's Veterans Memorial Stadium.

"That's definitely my goal," Prandini said after blowing away the field in Friday's preliminaries in 11.60 seconds – No. 1 in the state and No. 5 in the nation this year.

Among the remaining qualifiers, Bishop Amat-La Puente's Kylie Price was next best at 11.79.

Based on that, Prandini will be heavily favored at about 7:30 p.m. today to become the Central Section's first 100 champion in the 38-year history of girls competition.

A year after delivering two golds (long and triple jumps) and a silver (100), Prandini set up a sequel by also producing the best long jump (19-9 1/4) in her only attempt and the No. 2 200 time (23.57).

McClain, likewise, is destined for a second straight show.

He was not pushed in the 100 (10.31) or 200 (20.92), events that he swept last year.

While a repeat appears to be a given, the Azusa Pacific-bound senior said his primary goal is running down the state record of 10.25 set by Hawthorne's Henry Thomas in 1985. McClain also will gun for the state-meet standard of 10.30 clocked by Southwest-San Diego's Riley Washington in 1992.

"I want to go for [Thomas'] all-time best," he said. "And if I get out of the blocks [well], I'll probably get it."

Elsewhere, among Central Section representation, a strong finals push appears in order after two consecutive years of 18 medalists (top six).

The section advanced a combination of 26 individuals and relays into the finals, which are scheduled for 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. under a strong threat of rain.

Section highlights, in addition to Prandini:

  • Buchanan's boys 400 relay, linking in order junior Jared Cape, senior Chris Brusenback, sophomore Billy East and junior Tyler Wonnell, timed a qualifying second-best 41.37 – a school record, No. 8 all-time in the section and No. 5 in the state this season. It was only topped by Roosevelt-Corona's 41.06.

"The exchanges were perfect, but it's not over yet," East said. "We've got one more day. I think we can break 41, that's what we've been saying all year long."

A possible gold?

"To be honest, if we run our perfect race," East said, "I think we can come close at the wire."

  • A collection of pole vaulters – Clovis' Scott Greenman, Clovis West's Brad Beekman and Lemoore's Kyle Fraley (each 15-3) in the boys, and Clovis West's Anginae Monteverde and Buchanan's Nicole Falkenstein (each 11-9) in the girls return today with top qualifying marks.
  • Monteverde's twin sister, Alyssa, qualified second in her specialty, the 300 low hurdles (42.71). Ranked eighth nationally with a season best of 41.90, she was topped only by St. Mary's-Inglewood's Gianna Woodruff (42.24).
  • Stockdale's defending champion Alex Collatz threw a best of 164-2 in the discus – No. 4 in the nation this year. She's operating on one good leg after undergoing ACL knee surgery in the fall.

Clovis West sisters Nonny (144-2) and Nikki (144-0) Okwelogu, and Redwood's Lissette Mendivil (141-0) joined her from the section in discus qualifying.

But, on the flip side of throwing muscle, section boys – after sweeping the discus and shot put the past three years – didn't have one qualifier in either event.

  • Exeter senior Katie Fry qualified fourth in the 800 at 2:10.64 – No. 4 in section history.

Outside of the section, Long Beach Poly's nationally top-ranked girls carved a path toward a record-tying fourth straight team title as expected.

And the Jackrabbits did so equally as predictable behind their USC-bound tandem of Melia Cox and Akawkaw Ndipagbor.

Cox qualified first in the 100 hurdles (13.42), third in the 300 hurdles (43.26), third in the triple jump (40-11 1/4) and first on Poly's nation-leading 400 relay (45.80).

Ndipagbor will arrive today top-seeded in the 200 (23.57), 400 (54.28) and 400 relay, and second in the 1,600 relay (3:47.58).

Prandini ranks second in section history in the 200 with a personal record of 23.95, but she's sure it's going to require much better to beat Ndipagbor in the 200: "I'm going to have to run a major PR."

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