Sports

One big break helps keep this state-leading pole vaulter humble going into finals weekend

From breaking poles to breaking records, Clovis West High senior vaulter Elizabeth Funk has done it all – with one exception.

She wants a state championship.

Funk will get that opportunity this weekend at the CIF state track and field championships at Buchanan High’s Veterans Memorial Stadium.

The state meet begins with Friday qualifying, leading into Saturday’s finals.

“So far this season is more than I expected,” Funk said. “This year, I’ve become a lot mentally stronger which has been a huge factor to my jumping.”

Funk had an unforgettable ending to her 2018 season at the state meet: Her pole snapped during preliminaries.

It seemed to bother Funk. Her best height of 12 feet didn’t get her into the finals. To add to the pain, the winning height was just 12-6.

A learning experience for Funk? She thinks so.

“I think last year’s outcome has been a huge eye-opener and learning point for me,” she said “It has given me more push and more grit this year than ever. It has definitely motivated me for this season. And I know it can inspire others, too, to never give up.”

This year has been nothing but up in the air for Funk, highlighted by a 13-9 at the Tri-River Athletic Conference. That broke the Central Section record of 13-8.5 set by former San Joaquin Memorial pole vaulter Kira Costa in 2013, section track and field historian Ron Blackwood said.

Funk is the only girl in California to clear 13-9 this season, and just the third all-time. Three other pole vaulters outside of California have cleared 14-0 or higher this season. The state record of 14-1 was set by Tori Anthony of Castilleja-Palo Alto in 2007.

Funk has cleared 13-0 or better seven times this season, including 13-6 at the North Area meet. Her winning mark at the section meet of 12-0 came in the rain.

Funk said she’s ready to go this weekend.

“I’ve really been trying to stay relaxed and confident,” she said. “I know what I can do. I have been thinking of everything I have accomplished this season and really, I cannot ask for anything more. Always giving God the praise. Whether the outcome is good or bad, I’ve been reminding myself of what I’ve already done.”

Foster, Budwig among state’s best

Two other Fresno-area athletes rank as top contenders this weekend:

Caleb Foster, Clovis North – The junior is one of the favorites to win in 110 hurdles, long jump and triple jump. Foster finished fourth in the long jump last season. At the section meeet, Foster had a state-leading leap of 49-1.25 in the triple jump. He’ll also compete in the 400 relay.

Jocelynn Budwig, Fowler – The Auburn-bound senior is the defending state champion in the shot put. Budwig placed second at last weekend’s section meet after tweaking her hamstring, but she said she’s feeling great. She is also aiming to win the discus after finishing third last season.

Other local athletes to watch

Some of the other Fresno-area athletes who rank among medal contenders:

The Buchanan girls 400 relay team has six runners to choose from for four legs: Lauren Fowler, Shelby Daniele, Logan Winter, Aleeza Hassan, Layla Clay and Mareesa Gatzka.

Ditto for the Clovis North boys 400 relay team of Naythn Scruggs, Brandon Ralls, Tyler Ximines, Foster, Jake Parnagian and Towasin Akindele.

Buchanan senior Meagen Lowe will compete in the 1,600 and 3,200. She’ll be joined in the 3200 by teammate and junior Corie Smith.

Buchanan’s Daniele, a senior, will compete in the 100 and 200.

In the boys 100, watch for Central sophomore Xavier Worthy, Clovis North’s Scruggs and San Joaquin Memorial junior Jalen McMillan.

Central senior Amethyst Harper in the high jump.

Clovis West senior Dante Chachere will contend for the long jump title.

Buchanan senior Christian Johnson is in the shot put and discus. He’ll be joined by junior Kyler Van Grouw in the discus.

Clovis North junior Isaiah Galindo in the 3,200.

Selma junior DeAndra McDaniel and Sanger junior Kosi Agina in the triple jump.

Edison sophomore Kennedy Jennings in the 800.

Buchanan senior Maren Butler in the shot put.

Central junior Simone Johnson and Buchanan senior Haley Abirached in the triple jump.

101st CIF State Track and Field Championships

At Veterans Memorial Stadium, Buchanan High

Schedule

Friday: Gates open at 2 p.m.; qualifying field events 3 p.m.; qualifying track events 5 p.m.

Saturday: Gates open at 3:30 p.m.; field finals begin at 4:30; track finals begin at 6 p.m.

Tickets

Friday: $12 general and children under 13; $7 students with ASB card and seniors 65-plus

Saturday: $14 general and children under 13; $8 students with ASB card and seniors 65-plus

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Anthony Galaviz writes about sports for The Fresno Bee. He covers the Oakland Raiders, high schools, boxing, MMA and junior colleges. He’s been with The Bee since 1997 and attended Fresno City College before graduating from Fresno State with a major in journalism and a minor in criminology.
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