Wind can be a blessing and a curse for track and field athletes.
A head-wind can be troublesome for sprinters. A tail-wind can alter some top marks. For a thrower, that discus or shot put attempt could take sail and make for a marquee moment.
All of that was on display Thursday at the 19th Annual Patriot Games track and field meet at Liberty.
Liberty senior Daniel Viveros, the national leader in boys shot put, is now in the conversation as one of the best in the U.S. in the discus as well.
Viveros’ best on Thursday — 195 feet, 5 inches — was nearly nine feet farther than his previous personal-best of 187-7 set just five days ago at the Arcadia Invitational. It’s the second-best mark in the state and now No. 6 in the U.S.
“It was really big being able to compete at home again and have some decent wind and for it to just go,” Viveros said. “I am excited and happy because it was a great throw. I’ve been waiting for that. Just been waiting for a 190.”
The mark broke the meet record of 179-5, set by Dayshon Ragans of Foothill in 2007. Viveros, who posts the best shot put in the country at 68-11, also won Thursday's shot put title at 65-9.
The wind wasn’t so kind to Bakersfield High senior Kynnedi McCall. The state leader in the girls 400 felt the wind in her face for the back stretch, which was troublesome.
McCall, who's PR of 54.61 is the state’s best time this season, won Thursday's event in 56.27.
“I knew during my warmups that it was going to be rough today,” McCall said.
After a fourth-place finish at Arcadia — when she was recovering from the flu — McCall said she feels as good now as she has in her high school career.
“It feels great. I don’t have any injuries and everything is feeling good,” McCall said. “I just need to keep that same motivation that I started with. I know towards the end of the season, you can try to slack off a little bit, but as long as I keep my head up I’ll be good.
“Knowing I am ranked so high, it always feels great because you never know your competition. It’s always fun to be pushed.”
McCall does have local talent right here in Bakersfield to help with that added motivation. Liberty sophomore Rebecca Vanderpoel, a state qualifier last season as a freshman, finished second in 57.50.
“I love running with her. She pushes me. We push each other,” McCall said. “We go back and forth. Her strides are amazing. We just match up well against each other.”
The wind also affected Liberty sophomore Reese Renz. Five days removed from setting the Central Section sophomore record in the girls 300 hurdles in 42.40 at Arcadia, Renz came back and won both the 100 and 300 hurdles.
Her time of 43.99 came with a strong head-wind for the opening straightaway.
“The wind was terrible,” Renz said. “You want the start of the race to be really good, then you come out and the wind is challenging you the whole way during the stretch and you think, ‘Oh no.’ With that and getting back to hitting the (weight room) this week, it all hit me like a ton of bricks.”
Renz also won the 100 hurdles in a wind-aided PR of 14.32 and a wind-legal jump of 18-4 in the long jump for the hat trick.
The wind benefitted BHS freshman Mia Bolton as well.
A newcomer to the high school ranks, Bolton figures to be a mainstay in the sprints. Her time of 11.91 would be good for ninth in the state for all grades, but the heavy 5.4 tail-wind will take some of the luster off. Bolton’s first sub-12 second 100 might come with an asterisk, but she was still excited to see the time posted on the jumbotron at Patriot Stadium.
“It means so much. I am so happy,” Bolton said. “It’s unbelievable, when you think about it.”
Liberty sophomore Faith Bender, ranked No. 2 nationally in the girls discus, won the event Thursday at 155-4. She also took home the shot put — which she is ranked No. 3 in the U.S. — at 44-5.
Frontier’s Jadin Turner is now No. 3 in the Central Section in the boys 300 hurdles with a time of 40.05. Turner also won the 110 hurdles in 15.11.
Liberty’s Brayden Christensen closed down the meet with a PR in the boys pole vault of 14-3, besting his previous best by five inches unknowingly when his coach Ryan Beckwith told him the bar was three inches shorter at 14-0.
“That was so exhilarating,” Christensen said. “I didn’t think I could make a jump that high. That was so awesome.”