It was a game plan that worked to perfection.
All Kenahdi Haslip had to do was stay close to the leaders, namely Liberty’s Nicole Bridges and Kaitlyn Lavarias of Stockdale.
The Frontier junior did just that, and when the opportunity presented itself, Haslip took off, narrowly edging Bridges by .12 seconds to win the girls 800 to highlight the Southwest Yosemite League’s second meet on Wednesday at Liberty.
“I knew I had to stay on her shoulder the whole race, and I just did that,” Haslip said. “At about the 250-(meter) mark, I realized I could stay close, and I knew that I could hold on. I just knew about the 150 (mark) I had to use everything I had and go get her.”
With the win, Haslip’s time of 2:24.68 was good enough to qualify for the section divisional meet in May. The third-place Lavarias also hit the qualifying mark with a 2:27.32.
Bridges, who set the area’s top time in the event last week with a 2:21.15 at the Gateway to Track & Field meet in Clovis, was a bit slower on Wednesday, and suggested that her own strategy may have failed her in the race.
“I had a weird start, having to stand back at the starting line, and I think I ran out a little too hard maybe for the mile,” Bridges said. “With me doing three events today, I think I went out too fast.”
The Liberty sophomore has the league's top time in the 1600 and 3200. Prior to running the 1600, Bridges won the 1600 in 5:20.92, and followed up her second-place finish in the 800 with a personal-best 11:31.22 in winning the 3200.
Despite the two wins, the one she finished runner-up in was more memorable for the Patriots' sophomore.
“I do like being pushed and people driving to make me better, but all I can think about now is how I can improve and plan better so it doesn’t happen again,” Bridges said.
Haslip also qualified for the divisional meet with a fifth-place finish in the 200 (26.75), a personal best as the Titans edged Liberty 157-152 in the girls team race. Bakersfield High was third.
In the boys competition, Liberty finished first, with Frontier second and Bakersfield close behind in third.
Liberty junior Ethan Mahanke had a big day, running the fastest 200 in the area this season with a personal-best 22.11. The time is just under Isaac Fabelina’s 22.12 set at the Kern Invitational on March 11.
Mahanke also won the 110 hurdles (16.85), nearly beating the qualifying standard of 16.54, and helped the Patriots 400 and 1600 relay teams take first, as well.
His Patriots’ teammate, senior Andrew Trottier, also posted a pair of victories, winning the shot put and discus. His mark in the discus of 162-0 was a season best.
“Today wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t what I wanted technical-wise,” Trottier said. “I had the strength, but we’re still piecing together the technique in both shot put and discus.”
Liberty’s Christian Edwards won the long jump (21-07) and triple Jump (42-5). His mark in the long jump was a personal best and the top jump in the area this season.
Garces senior Travis Plugge, who returned to the track for the first time since his freshman season, set a personal-record in the 300 hurdles with a 41.81. It is the second fastest time in the section this season and qualified Plugge for the section divisional meet.
“I’ve been trying to work on my steps, especially on the back stretch,” Plugge said. “My form was breaking down the last three hurdles, but I know that if I can clean that up, I can continue to improve.”
Rams senior Ian Jernagin won the high jump (6-0) with a personal-best mark and qualified for the section divisional along with second-place Amondeep Mimi of Frontier.
Bakersfield junior Tybo Rogers ran a season-best 11.11 to win the boys 100, eclipsing the qualifying standard for the Central Section divisional meet. It is the second fastest time among SWYL runners this season. Fabelina, who did not compete on Wednesday, ran a 10.66 at the first SWYL meet two weeks ago.
Rogers’ Driller teammate, freshman Liam McKnight, won the 800 and qualified for the section divisional with a personal-best 4:34.70 in the 1600. The time in the 1600 was fastest in the area, topping teammate Sergio Lizarraga’s 4:35.97 set in the Kern Invitational. McKnight has already earned a spot in the 800.
Lizarraga, the BVarsity All-Area Cross Country Runner of the Year, came back to win the 3200 in 10:08.89, more than seven seconds faster than second-place Jacob Perez of Frontier.
Centennial’s Evan Josephson ran a personal-best 50.60 to win the 400, with second-place Charlie Castle of Liberty also setting a PR with a 51.58. Fourth-place Jamel Davis just missed hitting the qualifying standard of 52.74 by .01 of a second.
The Golden Hawks’ Jack Evans established a personal-record with a 12-6 in the pole vault, with Frontier’s Bryton King hitting the divisional qualifying mark of 12-0.
Avianna Carrillo of Frontier won a pair of sprints in personal-record times. She won the 100 in 12.19 and followed later in the afternoon with a 25.24 in the 200.
Bakersfield’s Kyndall Hannible finished second in the 200 with a personal-record 26.37. The time was good enough to advance to the divisional meet. Fellow Driller Madison Johnson (sixth in 26.95), Adeline Rangel of Frontier (27.17) and Liberty’s Justyce Amey (27.19) also secured a spot in the divisionals.
Hannible teamed with Brooklyn Ford, Johnson and Mia Bolton to win the 400 relay (50.09). She ended the day as part of the winning 1600 relay squad, that included Abigail Varner, Kamryn Hannible and Alexis Spurlock.
Earlier, Spurlock won the 400 in 1:01.00, followed by Liberty’s Bella Turner (1:01.55) and Frontier’s Cyan Haslip (1:01.86), who each posted PRs. Haslip and Centennial’s Anna Josephson (1:02.34) each qualified for the divisional meet.
In addition to her second-place finish in the 400, Turner won the 100 (16.63) and 300 (46.37) hurdles. The time in the 200 was a season best.
Ariyah Ford won the discus (104-7) and finished second in the shot put (34-6) to Frontier’s Grace Shelton (35-4).
Liberty’s Emma Fredrick won the high jump (5-0), long jump (PR of 17-9) and triple jump (PR of 35-8). Lily Fakrogha was fourth in the high jump, but hit the qualifying standard with a PR of 4-10.
Frontier’s Amelia Heisey won the pole vault (10-6), followed by teammate Jillian Block, who cleared 10-0 for the first time.