Central Section track and field athletes set records at Masters
Cody Brazeal has never had to look far to find standard bearers of Central Section distance running.
Brazeal was an eighth-grader at Alta Sierra Intermediate, a Buchanan High feeder, when Jonathan Sanchez was running to glory for the Bears in 2009.
Then Brazeal has trained the past three seasons at Buchanan with C.J. Albertson, a two-time Bee Runner of the Year in cross country.
“It was either Jonathan’s time to beat or C.J.’s,” Brazeal said Saturday after delivering the fastest 1,600-meter time in section history. “And I was lucky enough to do it today. I’m still in shock.”
Brazeal, a junior, clocked 4 minutes and 7.72 seconds in the section Masters Championships at Buchanan’s Veterans Memorial Stadium.
The 6-foot, 140-pounder had arrived with a personal best of 4:11.78 in the event.
Technically, Reedley’s Peter Romero is still considered No. 1 all-time in the section at 4:06.4 (1967), but that time was converted from a mile. So Brazeal’s time is best for a true 1,600.
Entering Saturday, Sanchez was No. 3 (4:10.04, 2009) and Albertson No. 9 (4:11.92, 2010) all-time in the section 1,600.
Brazeal credits Albertson for his development.
“I would not be where I am without that kid,” Brazeal said. “I could not push myself like he pushes me. He gave me a hug after the race and said he was more excited than he had ever been after any of his own races.”
Others challenged history as well in a meet that qualified the three top finishers in each event to the CIF State Championships at this same site June 1-2. Several section athletes also will advance by qualifying through at-large marks.
Joey Souza, Kingsburg: His winning long jump of 23 feet, 61/4 inches is No. 2 in section history for a freshman. Only Edison’s Billy Wright (23-83/4, 1985) has done better.
Mikaela Smith, Clovis North: The athlete who said three months ago she wants to be “the next Jenna Prandini” (a five-time state champion from Clovis, 2008-11) won the 400 in 55.34 — No. 3 in section history and No. 2 all time for a freshman. It’s exceeded only by Bakersfield’s Janice Nichols (54.47, 1989).
In a stirring duel, Smith overtook Edison’s Njeri Omawahleh (55.37) in the final 50 meters. Omawahleh’s time is No. 4 all time in the section.
“She had me by a little, but I wasn’t going to let that happen,” Smith said. “I expected a fight and it was a fight to the end. I was hoping to get in the 54s. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, but it will happen in state.”
Edison’s girls 1,600 relay: Omawahleh teamed with Melese Crozier and twins Tia and Tara Edwards to clock a meet-record 3:50.17 — No. 3 in section history and No. 4 in the state this season.
Buchanan swept the team titles.
The Bears boys, including Karunveer Chohan’s win in the 110 high hurdles (14.92) and second in the 300 intermediate hurdles (38.86), ran away with their fourth straight crown, scoring 86.7 points. Edison was a distant second (49).
Buchanan’s girls, behind Hagen Reedy’s expected sweep of the 1,600 (4:56.76) and 3,200 (10:37.16), unseated two-year reigning champion Clovis West in the girls. But the Bears (67.6) received a push from fellow Tri-River Athletic Conference member Clovis North (62.5). And Clovis West (55.4) and Edison (54) ran 3-4.
By Andy Boogaard