While many fans and athletes found shade Friday during the opening night of the CIF State Track and Field Championships at Buchanan’s Veterans Memorial Stadium, Buchanan’s Hannah Waller and Clovis North’s Rhesa Foster found justice.
For they want more.
Waller, after barely making it into Saturday’s final in the 400 as the defending champion with a time of 55.16 – so slow for her standards it raised questions about her physical condition – responded in a blur two hours later while smashing the Central Section record in the 200 at 23.64.
“That was the goal. I just didn’t know I’d do it tonight, and I’m not even tired,” she said after erasing the section’s 5-year-old record by Clovis state champion Jenna Prandini (23.75). “I kind of made myself mad (in the 400), turned around and did what I had to do. It just took more self-believing and with the right competition, anything can happen.”
Competition? Try Oaks Christian-Westlake Village’s Lauren Williams, who emerged from three 200 heats with the best time of 23.09. She’s the national leader at 22.80.
Waller’s 200 time, improving her personal best from 23.91, ranked fourth on a day that reached 102 degrees before dropping into the low 80s in the preliminaries of a meet whose starting times because of the anticipated heat were moved back as much as 1 1/2 hours. The same will be the case for Saturday’s finals, whose field events will begin at 4:30 p.m. and the track events at 7 p.m., setting up an 11 p.m. close.
Waller’s 400 time qualified her eighth of nine runners. Her section-record 53.13 came while winning the state last year.
Foster’s story involves even more theater than Waller’s.
“I’m definitely where I want to be and there’s no doubt in my mind I have a chance to win it,” the Oregon-bound senior said after advancing to the finals with a 20-foot, 3-inch long jump that ranked third Saturday.
This is the athlete who surely would have qualified for state in the 100 and 100 high hurdles had she not encountered a hamstring problem more than a month ago.
The injury prohibited her from participating in the North Area qualifying meet, which, along with three other qualifying meets in the section, advanced athletes to the Masters Championships a week later.
Foster, in fact, only was allowed to advance to the state in the long jump through a medical waiver. And she only qualified for the opportunity to receive that because she had the section’s best season mark at 20-2 1/2 , which also ranked second among qualifiers for the 98th running of the state finals.
As good as she feels in the long jump – her best event – it is paining her to watch what might have been in other events.
“Frustrating to watch it all happen,” she said. “But it’s also nice to focus on one event and let it loose out there, especially in the long jump.”
Besides pursuing gold Saturday, Foster will take aim at the section record of 20-7 by Riverdale’s Daralee Roberts in 1971, according to section historian Ron Blackwood. Foster also trails West’s Kam Warner (20-6 1/4 , 1993) and Clovis’ Prandini (20-4 1/4 , 2011).
Clovis North coach Rich Brazil likes the chances of Foster, who also missed all of her junior track season because of a knee injury suffered in volleyball.
“While she’d rather have it another way, she’s putting all her eggs in this basket and, deep down, is thankful for the opportunity,” he said.
“She looks great, real strong. She’s faced so much adversity but isn’t bitter at all. That’s all behind her. She’s focusing on the positive and keeping her eye on the prize. She loves the long jump.”
Herrera seeks elusive gold – For all of his prep accomplishments – notably, a state silver in cross country, a state bronze in last year’s state 3200 and two Fresno Bee Runner of the Year honors in cross country – there’s but one achievement left for Madera South’s Eduardo Herrera: a gold.
“That’s definitely one of my dreams in high school: to win state and walk off really happy as a high schooler,” he said.
A couple months before heading to the University of Colorado on scholarship, he advanced in the 1600 with the third best qualifying mark of 4:11.09, trailing Martin Luther King-Riverside’s Tyler Janes (4:10.86) and Great Oak-Temecula’s Isaac Cortes (4:10.98).
Herrera arrived with a season best of 4:03.56 among all qualifers.
“I felt a little gassed,” he said. “But I was real comfortable and was just trying to place and not go for time.”
He’ll also run the 3200 Saturday. There are no preliminaries in that event.
Bullard’s Williams sweeps – Bullard’s Charles Williams won his 100 (10.69) and 200 (21.35) heats.
Seeking to become the school’s first state medalists in either sprint, the UNLV-bound football player qualified third in the 100 and second in the 200, where his time ranks ninth in section history.
Vista Murrieta’s Michael Norman, the nation’s premier sprinter, coasted to a top-qualifying 47.21 in the 400 and advanced with a 21.36 200. Headed to USC, he’s the national leader in both at 45.51 and 20.23 – both state records.
Hot start –The meet had cooled to 100 degrees when the running events began at 6:15 p.m., but Carson’s girls 400 relay turned the dial back up – way up.
Ranked ninth nationally and No. 1 in the state coming in at 45.42, the Colts torched a 45.16 – No. 2 nationally, No. 12 all-time in the state and breaking a 34-year Los Angeles City Section record.
Buchanan’s girls advanced in the 400 relay by placing fourth in the third heat and eighth of the nine qualifiers overall at 47.16. The Bears have a season best of 47.08.
Mixed results followed for Central Section representation in the boys 400 relay.
Central placed second in its heat and fourth overall to advance at 51.53.
But section Masters champion Bullard didn’t finish in the same heat. And, one heat later, Buchanan was disqualified for running out of its zone.
Satterlee advances – Central Valley Christian’s Gabby Satterlee advanced in the 1600 with a 4:51.31 that ranked third. For three laps, she ran on the shoulder of national-leading Amanda Gehrich of Tesoro (4:50.14). Gehrich has a season best of 4:41.39.