CLOVIS — Some familiar names from San Luis Obispo County will compete again in today’s finals at the CIF State Track and Field Championships. A few first-timers will, too.
Five county prep athletes placed in the top nine to 12 of their respective events during Friday’s qualifying action at Buchanan High near Fresno, automatically advancing to the last stage.
As expected, Templeton’s Savannah Camacho (in the girls 800-meter run) and San Luis Obispo’s Abrianna Torres (girls long jump and triple jump) repeated in making it to the title round.
Meanwhile, San Luis Obispo’s Elena Clarke (girls pole vault), Paso Robles’ Tess Rountree (girls high jump) and Arroyo Grande’s Garrett Weinreich (boys shot put) all had efficient opening performances at their first state meet appearances as each kept their seasons alive.
A crowd of more than 8,000 filed into Veterans Memorial Stadium, one of the biggest high school venues in California.
“I was kind of nervous,” Weinreich said. “I’ve never been to a meet this big. It’s kind of overwhelming.”
The magnitude of the moment wasn’t lost on the others, either.
“It’s a big relief, just having the whole season culminate to this day,” Clarke said. “It’s really exciting to have that kind of an atmosphere, and it definitely motivates you.”
Including Clarke, 12 pole vaulters cleared 11 feet, 9 inches. Competition ceased after that, as the finals field was already set, thus making continued attempts unnecessary. Clarke, who has signed with UCLA, made all three of her prelims clearances on first attempts. Her personal best this season is 12-8.
Rountree and her high jump peers also walked off the infield as soon as the finals grouping was determined. The Bearcats senior cleared 5-4 to advance.
“It’s pretty awesome,” Rountree said. “It’s been my goal all season, and it’s pretty nice to achieve it.”
Coming into the prelims, six girls were seeded higher than Rountree, but none of their respective sectional Masters Meet marks (the standard for seeding) were above 5-7. Rountree’s best this year is 5-71⁄2.
“I have a shot,” she said. “I just really need to focus (today) and execute.”
Weinreich posted a 57-11 mark, good for the seventh seed today. Weinreich’s personal best this season is 59-61⁄4. Today’s No. 1 seed is Dos Pueblos’ Nicholas Scarvelis at 62-91⁄4.
“I just need to go in the ring more confident,” Weinreich said.
The Division I football recruit added he was “kind of mad, actually,” that he didn’t put forth a better distance, but added, “I qualified for (today), though, so I guess that’s all that matters.”
Camacho won her heat in 2 minutes, 11.14 seconds.
“The goal was to just kind of have an easy win, and to not put too much of my energy out there and still have a good performance,” Camacho said, “and I did that.”
A year removed from a runner-up finish in the 800 finals as a sophomore, the junior had the third-best overall time Friday.
The girl who narrowly beat her a year ago by 0.21 seconds, Harvard-Westlake of North Hollywood junior Amy Weissenbach, also won her prelims heat, clocking a 2:11.85.
“This is what I’ve been working for the whole year,” Camacho said. “The day has finally come.
“She’s the best competition I could ever ask for,” Camacho said of Weissenbach. “(The finals are) going to be really exciting.”
Torres posted the second-best prelims mark in the long jump at 19-2. Hometown favorite Jenna Prandini, a Clovis High senior who won the state title a year ago, led the qualifying at 19-91⁄4 on Friday.
Torres is today’s fifth seed in the triple jump thanks to a personal-best 39-61⁄2. Top-seeded Ciarra Brewer from James Logan of Union City brings a leading 43-21⁄2 mark into the finals.
Torres, a Colorado-bound senior, also competed in the girls 100 hurdles prelims, finishing 20th at 14.83 seconds.
Nipomo senior Heather Hawes also competed in the prelims, finishing 18th in the girls discus with a mark of 126-1. She had made it to the state meet with a 132-7 personal best.
There was plenty of talk around the facility Friday about how rain might impact today’s events, as early weather forecasts predicted a 70-percent chance of showers. None of the Central Coast athletes, however, said they were particularly concerned over the possible conditions.
“We’ve actually been used to it this season,” Clarke said.
Some of that confidence comes from the Elks San Luis Obispo County Meet in late March. The meet, which is an annual favorite among locals, was also heavily rained upon.
“It’ll affect everyone the same,” Rountree said.
Or, as Camacho said simply: “I don’t want it to rain, but if it does, it’s raining for everyone.”
Today’s events get under way at 4:30 p.m.