CLOVIS - The day started with a drizzle and the night came with a downpour.
The entity of the Central Section Track and Field Championships at Veteran’s Memorial Stadium in Clovis on Saturday came in a steady rainfall that forced athletes to rethink their approach and left some locals out in the cold and others ready to heat up for the state meet next weekend.
As the rain began to fall, Faith Bender was at her best in the first event to get started.
The Liberty sophomore set a personal best in the girls shot put of 47 feet, 4.75 inches to move to No. 12 nationally and won her first of what could be as many as five section titles.
“It’s pretty awesome. I wanted to come out here and throw in the rain and PR,” Bender said. “It says a lot about my technique that I am getting better throughout the season.”
Fowler senior Jocelynn Budwig, who is headed to Auburn on scholarship next year, said she has a tweaked hamstring and finished second while bypassing the finals to save herself heading into the CIF State Championships next weekend back here in Clovis.
Bender finished second to Budwig in the discus. With ring soaked with rain water, Budwig won the title at 161-9 while Bender’s top mark was 159-5. Bender’s teammate and fellow sophomore, Bella Rigby, advances to state for the first time in her career with a third place finish (145-8).
Liberty senior Daniel Viveros, the national leader in the boys shot put, was dealing with a head cold all week and made sure that he did just enough to survive and advance.
Viveros’ still won the shot put with that mindset at 65-9.75, nearly five-feet shy of his personal-best. Viveros also qualified for state in the discus with a third-place finish (183-5).
“I wish the weather was better so I could go PRs, but (the shot put) was still a great throw,” Viveros said. “So I am happy with it.”
Shafter senior Daniel Richardson also advanced to state in the shot put with a qualifying mark of 56-5.
Liberty girls finish second
The goal was to get a plaque to take back to Bakersfield for the second consecutive season for Liberty’s coach Ryan Renz.
Thanks to a disqualification, the goal was made a bit easier for the Patriots girls team. In a tight race for second to Clovis-Buchanan, Clovis North was disqualified in the 1,600 relay after Clovis North’s Tatum Zinkin moved from the first to the third lane to impede Liberty’s Rebecca Vanderpoel from passing her in the final 50 meters.
“She really did move pretty far to her right and tried to roll Rebecca out,” Renz said.
It’s the second consecutive second place finish for Liberty at the section championships. Along with Bender, sophomore Reese Renz also took home two individual titles in the 100 hurdles (14.36) and the 300 hurdles (43.47). Vanderpoel advances to state in the 200, with a second place finish in 25.23 and second place finish in the 400 (56.13).
The relay team of Vanderpoel, Renz, Alexa Schacher and Ellen Palmgren finished in a time of 3:53.44.
Yagers wins boys 1,600 title, Jones advance in 3,200
Last year, Moises Medrano won the boys 1,600 section title for Highland before heading off to start his collegiate career at Cal.
Medrano left the distance program in good hands as Scots’ sophomore Jacob Yagers won the section title in 4:17.05.
“I am just happy to be out here and run. It felt good,” Yagers said. “It feels amazing. I have worked so hard and what I’ve been looking forward to all season. Now I get to look forward to state and hope I do good there.”
Liberty’s Ethan Jones also advanced to state in the 3,200. Jones had a slight lead at the beginning of the bell lap and finished third in 9:23.48.
Henderson overcomes 100 slip-up
Liberty junior Ramon Henderson was the favorite in the boys 100 after posting a blazing-fast time of 10.59 seconds at the South Area Championships. But Henderson finished in fourth in 10.85 and failed to advance to state.
But Henderson came right back and took second in the 200 (22.01) and ran the anchor leg of the boys 1,600 relay that finished second.
“I don’t blame anybody but myself,” Henderson said. “Now I just need to work over the next week to try and get into the state finals (in the 200).
Frontier’s boys 1,600 relay team finished third and qualifies for state.