The Central Section South Area Championships at Liberty on Wednesday was a normal track meet in many ways for Blake Haney. The Stockdale senior was his dominating self once again, banging out three commanding wins in the 800, 1600, and 3200.
But despite all of that, the meet was a special one for Haney because it was his final time racing in Bakersfield.
"It's as emotional as it gets for me," Haney said. I never really get the chills when I'm racing but I definitely felt it today the last two laps. It's hard to think this is actually real, like it's done now, I got to move on. But it was a great four years and I couldn't be happier with it."
Haney, the defending state champion in the 1600 and 3200, had little trouble winning all three of his events, cruising to finish line each time with his nearest competitor trailing far behind.
"I didn't fell that great in the mile but it happens," Haney said. "It was tough conditions. Looking forward I'm in great shape. Training going to come down a little bit. I'm excited for my next races.
Haney's ran 1:56 in the 800, 4:22.73 in the 1600, and 9:30.90 in the 3200.
He plans on running all three at the Central Section Master's meet a week from Saturday at Buchanan High School in Clovis, but dropping the 800 for the state meet.
The top three finishers in each of the three area meets plus the top three in the Sierra/Sequoia Division Champions automatically qualify for the Master's meet.
They'll be joined by the competitors with the overall top six marks in each event from the four qualifying meets.
Haney was the only athlete to win three individual events on Wednesday but Liberty's Morganne Hill and Kyra Saunders of Independence were both posted two individual wins and one relay victory.
Hill, the defending section champion in the 100 hurdles posted a time in that event (14.21) that was fast enough to set a new Central Section South Area meet record but it was wind aided.
The talented junior later won the 300 hurdles in a time of 42.61 and then capped off the meet by anchoring the Patriots winning 1600 relay team.
"I'm pretty pleased with today," Hill said. "My day kind of started out bad and I was like, 'you know what, I'm going to take it out on this meet.'...It's my last meet here this season. It was good to go out with a bang."
Saunders began the day with a bang, helping the Falcons win the 400 relay with their best time of the year (49.31).
That was just a preview of things to come, as she later blazed her way to a wind-aided time of 11.93 seconds to win the 100 and then followed that up with a impressive 24.97 run in the 200.
Both times were new personal records for Saunders.
"I'm pretty exited," Saunders said. "I didn't think I was going to PR or anything because I was feeling sick. Then I came and I made a huge improvement in the 100 and 200."
Hill and Saunders weren't the only sprinters to have a great day.
Mira Monte's Mason Rollins won the boys 100 (10.76) and 200 (22.08) while Bakersfield's Derrick Vickers (110 hurdles) and Frontier's Gabriel Gaeta (300 hurdles) ran the fastest time in the section this year in taking first place their events.
Rollins fastest time in the 100 coming into the day was 11.27. His time on Wednesday was wind-aided but impressive nonetheless as he didn't run in the fast heat.
"I worked all week, came out here to do what I do" Rollins said. "I'm surprised with my PR (in the 100) today. I'm just hoping to go to Valley and do big things."
Vickers, who missed most of last track season due to tendentious in knees bested an impressive field of 110 hurdlers, that included runners with four of the section's top five times this year.
Vickers won the race with a time of 14.48. Independence's Isaac Clark, the holder of the fastest time in the section before Wednesday (14.65) took third (14.72). Bakersfield's Alec Benavides was second (14.70).
"I was really nervous because we have the top five hurdlers in the valley right now," Vickers said. "Anything can happen. Anybody could hit a hurdle. Anybody could fall off balance from their arm action. So basically I didn't think about anyone else. I just ran my race."
Gaeta finished fourth in the 110 hurdles but bounced back to post a 2014 section-best 38.37 in winning the 300 hurdles.
Exhausted by the end of the race, Gaeta eased up 25 yards before the finish line.
"That did not feel like a 38.37," Gaeta said. "I'm just in shock. That's a PR by almost a quarter of a second. That's huge. I'm just happy."
Several other competitors were two-time individual winners. Highland's Savannah Berry won the girls 1600 (5:16.74) and 3200 (11:32.70). Frontier's Colton Foster swept the boys throwing events with marks of 58-1.5 in the shot put and a new PR of 182-6 in the discus. The Drillers' Scotty Newton took first in the boys long jump (22-4) and triple jump (46-9)