Liberty throws coach Rod Chronister was a mentor to Van Mounts in the 1990s before the former Bakersfield High great set the Central Section mark in the boys shot put 22 years ago.
Chronister is in the same role now at Liberty and has the pleasure of coaching Patriots senior Daniel Viveros.
It was easy for Chronsiter to quantify what it means to him to coach the only two Central Section throwers to eclipse the 70-foot barrier in the boys shot put as Viveros hit 71 feet, 3 inches on Wednesday at the Central Section South Area Track and Field Championships at Griffith Field.
“It comes once in a lifetime,” Chronister said of coaching a 70 footer. “I’ve got it twice.”
With fans draped over the grandstands above the shot put ring and lined down the chain-linked fence along the shot put ring, Viveros dropped the put on the ground and began to request the crowd to clap in unison for him.
On his second-to-last throw, Viveros let out a primal scream and blew well beyond the final marker to become the national leader this season. He is just the fourth to eclipse 70-feet in California history, according to PrepCalTrack.com, and is 20th all-time nationally for high school throwers.
That means in the history of the event in California, two of the four in the event to eclipse 70-feet are from Bakersfield. And that means something special to Viveros.
“It felt amazing. You always dream about throwing 70 feet. That’s the dream number for shot,” Viveros said. “To finally do it, and do it twice is unbelievable.”
It’s also two-and-a-half weeks from the CIF State Championships, meaning Viveros still has two more events in high school before moving to the University of Mississippi to attempt to break Mounts’ section record of 71-10 set in 1997. The state record of 76-2 was set in 1990 by Brett Noon from San Diego-Fallbrook.
Viveros’ mark is also the top mark in California since Matt Katnik hit 72-3 for Bellflower-St. John Bosco in 2015.
“It’s amazing. I remember watching Matt Katnik throw at Arcadia and seeing all of the 70-foot throws he had and all the success,” Viveros said. “It’s amazing to say that I am up there with him.”
It also means a lot to Viveros to break the 70-foot barrier in town before the section championships on May 18 in Clovis and the state championships the following weekend where he will attempt to repeat as the state champion.
“I am really happy this came in my final meet in Kern County,” Viveros said. “To be able to hit 70 twice is just amazing.”
Record-breaking day on the track
While the attention was set on Viveros and this mark in the shot put, locals were blazing fast on the track.
Bishop's Rachel Fitt broke the 22-year old South Area record in the girls 1,600 in 5:03.13. The previous 1,600 record was set by Stockdale's Tracy Cohn at 5:05.50. Cohn was a four-time section champion in the 3,200 and ran at UCLA.
Liberty junior Ramon Henderson, who is one of the hottest commodities for college football programs as a speedy wide receiver and defensive back, is going to garner a lot of attention for his meet record in the boys 100.
Henderson’s time of 10.59 broke West High great Marques Hollwell’s record of 10.62 set in 1995. Hollwell went on to win the state title in the 100 later that season.
“It’s impressive for Ramon because Marques was a top-tier guy,” Liberty sprints coach Bobby Gridiron said. “That’s huge. Ramon is a bit nonchalant about it right now, but this is big.”
Henderson said he realizes it will hit him later, but knows that setting a PR in the 100 in the postseason is the right time for a big finish to the season.
“It is really big,” Henderson said. “I know I’m not really showing it right now, but I know this means something with Valley and state coming up.”
McCall, Mota out of the season
Two of the top seniors in their events in California are out of the rest of the season with injuries.
BHS senior Kynnedi McCall, who has the top mark in the section in the girls 400 and was the state leader in the event earlier in the season, has a hamstring grade 2 hamstring injury.
Stockdale senior Marcus Mota, one of the top distance runners in the state, will not finish out his senior year with an injury as well.
Both have recently signed to college programs with McCall heading to Cal State Fullerton and Mota will run cross country and track and field at UCLA.