Bakersfield High track and field coach Kim Jenkins doesn’t have to think back too far or too hard for a comparison for freshman sprinter Mia Bolton.
Bolton needs not look outside her household for inspiration on the track.
For the coach and protege, the future is bright for Bolton, who is among elite company.
At just 4-foot-10, Bolton is one of the fastest freshmen in California this season and stands out for her lack of size that does not limit her incredible speed heading into the CIF State Track and Field Championships at Veteran’s Memorial Stadium in Clovis beginning Friday.
But Bolton's qualifying race was not to her liking and she expressed her displeasure in her performance, something Jenkins knows all too well.
At the Central Section championships last Saturday. Bolton came out of the starting blocks slowly and recovered enough to finish third and advance to state with a time of 12.29, a half-second slower than her personal-best from eight days prior.
Despite doing something only four others have done in the last 15 years, Bolton wasn’t pleased with herself and upset she didn’t win.
“I don’t like to lose,” she said.
When Johnny Carter was in eighth grade, Carter was an elite youth long jumper but finished third at the AAU National Championships in 2007. Carter wanted to throw his bronze medal in the trash. Jenkins convinced him otherwise and that loss light a fire in Carter, who won the state championship as a freshman in the boys long jump the next year at Ridgeview.
“Like Johnny, Mia was just ready to put that loss away and work towards the next,” Jenkins said. “Those are two very special athletes.”
Bolton is also not the first in her family to advance to state as a sprinter and won’t likely be the last.
Her half-brother, Darius Smith, was a state qualifier at Ridgeview and is now a junior on the track team at UCLA. Bolton’s brother, Malik, who is also a freshman and 11 months her junior, is also a high-end sprinter whose season was cut short to a hamstring injury.
“I told Darius that he better enjoy his family records because Mia and Malik are going to be right there, too,” Jenkins said.
Bolton is one of just two freshman in the 100-meter preliminary heats on Friday and sports a wind-legal personal-best time of 11.97 seconds at the South Area championships on May 8. That time is tied for the third all-time for freshmen in Central Section history, according to historian Ron Blackwood.
The others in the record books are all in the top-10 all-time in section history, led by former Foothill standout Halima Decree.
Bolton also becomes just the fifth freshman from the section to run in the 100 at state in the past 15 seasons.
The other four?
Rhesa Foster from Clovis North (2017 PAC-12 long jump champion), Lynn Williams from Fresno-Bullard in 2008 (now professional soccer player in Charlotte), Bullard’s Magen DelPino in 2005 (ran collegiately at UTEP) and arguably the greatest sprinter in section history Jenna Prandini from Clovis in 2009, who is training for her second Olympics in 2020.
Bolton doesn’t want to be in the same sentence as the other great sprinters in section history, she wants to be the greatest.
“I try to be the best I can be and stay focused on what is really important,” Bolton said. “I feel that I don’t have to be what people expect me to be. I want to be better than them. I want to be the best. I don’t want to be known as part of the greatest. I want to be the greatest.”
Jenkins says Bolton has all of the intangibles to get there because she has “it” but it’s going to take time to develop her skill set knowing she is still only 15-years old.
“What is so special about this kid is she has it,” Jenkins said. “It’s the God-factor. It’s nothing that you can explain, but as a coach, you have to make sure you don’t mess that up. You have to make sure that you are patient enough to know what you have and then allow her to mature and get the experience to know it has to be a gradual thing.”