Clovis News: Sports

High school notes: Bright spots from state track meet

One final lap around the track at Buchanan's Veterans Memorial Stadium, sun-splashed with 80-degree weather today – three days tardy, of course.

But let's not be too critical of the weekend weather.

Directors of the CIF State Track and Field Championships are thankful the heavy rain and lightning that arrived Sunday didn't strike 24 hours earlier.

Had it, co-director Brian Weaver said, the stadium would have been cleared, athletes ushered into Buchanan's two gymnasiums and more than 7,000 fans returned to their cars. And, in the best-case scenario, the finals would have resumed later that night – in rain, yes; under lightning, no.

In a worst-case scenario, Weaver said they probably would have asked the CIF to complete the finals on Sunday, a dreadful proposition for high school competition. Monday wasn't an option because of stadium preparations for graduations.

"It all worked out," Weaver said Monday.

Barely.

Fresh wheels

Energy conservation, which more than anything extends leg firepower, is critical to the success of multi-event athletes at the state championships.

Take Clovis' Jenna Prandini and Long Beach Poly's Akawkaw "Co-Co" Ndipagbor.

The most important 5-second sequence of Prandini's historic weekend can be found in Friday's preliminaries.

In Prandini's first event, at about 7 p.m., she popped a 19-9 1/4 long jump – No. 6 nationally at the time. That virtually guaranteed her a ticket to Saturday's nine-member finals, allowing her to pass on her final two attempts.

Further, she then not only also won 100- and 200-meter preliminary heats, she won them convincingly, easing to the finish line in both.

Consequently, she had jumped only once and ran twice entering the finals, where she swept golds in the 100 (11.69), 200 (23.81) and long jump (19-11 3/4) while becoming one of six athletes to win a record three individual golds in a single meet in the 38-year history of female competition. And it also helped immensely that her winning long jump came on her second attempt, allowing her to pass on three of her final four jumps.

Prandini then had the gas to roar past Bishop Amat-La Puente's Kylie Price in the 100 and, 1 hour later, toast a section-record in the 200. The previous standard of 23.94 was set by Clovis West's Megan DelPino in 2008.

Preserving energy was even more urgent for Ndipagbor considering her itinerary – a 200-400 double in addition to 400 and 1,600 relays.

Poly, with Ndipagbor anchoring, won its preliminary 400-relay heat in 45.80.

Ndipagbor then didn't push too hard in winning her 400 heat at 54.28. But costly judgment no doubt came an hour later when she blew away her 200 heat in 23.57 – No. 4 in the nation for the season. No reason to bury the throttle on that one.

Consider: 24 hours later, she dropped off to a second-place 24.05 and didn't threaten Prandini down the stretch when virtually everyone in the house expected the USC-bound senior to do so. Even Prandini, Friday night, said it would probably take a 23.6-type time to beat Co-Co.

Poly repeats sweep

Counting also her contribution to a second-place 1,600 relay – crediting her with two of the team's eight points – Ndipagbor did finish with 22.5 as Poly's girls scored 72 overall to run away with a fourth straight title, a feat matched only by Jefferson-Los Angeles' boys (1949-52) since 1915.

Prandini's points alone – 30 this year after 28 in 2010 – lifted Clovis to a second-place team finish in the girls for the second straight year.

Long Beach Poly's boys, also top-ranked nationally, scored 35 points to edge Loyola-Los Angeles (32) for the boys crown.

Final kick for Bricks

The meet's final hour found Macy Bricks' best 10 minutes and 22.67 seconds.

That's what the future Arizona State Sun Devil from Buchanan delivered to place fifth in the 3,200 to close one of the finest long-distance running careers in section history.

It was a stunning 16-second personal-best drop and No. 2 in section history for Bricks, The Bee's two-time Runner of the Year in cross country. Only four-time state champion Jordan Hasay of Mission Prep (9:52.13, 2008) has timed better in the section.

Kern County collapse

Plenty of questions about the health of track and field in Kern County after only three representatives from Bakersfield – all from Stockdale – competed in the state meet. Further, only one medaled – freshman Asia Chesley tying for third in the high jump.

This is difficult to comprehend, especially considering what Bakersfield High alone has accomplished at the state level – a total of six team titles and 34 gold medalists.

Bears land top state baseball honor

Buchanan was named State Team of the Year in baseball by Cal-Hi Sports.

The 30-2 Bears are the 12th section team to win the honor since Cal-Hi began its rankings in 1899. Roosevelt was the first in 1933 and Clovis the previous in 1998.

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