Photo by Nick Baker – Rhesa Foster of Clovis North wins the state long jump (20-7 ½), a year after knee surgery put her career in doubt.
By Paul Meadors, Sports Editor
The fireworks red glared and bombarded in the air just above Veterans Memorial Stadium late Saturday night, June 4, a perfect ending to a magical two days at the CIF State Track and Field Championships that drew close to 15,000 people.
And for the nine Clovis Unified athletes who combined for 12 medals on California’s biggest track and field stage — all seniors by the way – well, who could ask for anything more?
For one, no one was smiling more then Clovis North’s Rhesa Foster as she won the state’s long jump title, and who’s electric smile could have easily powered the lights on just as the scorching sun was setting.
Foster capped off an emotional senior year with a crowd-inspired leap of 20-7 ½, igniting a joyous-filled celebration usually reserved for a Hollywood movie.
Jump, cry, scream all you want Foster, you deserve it.
“I feel amazing,” said Foster, who’s mark is a new Central Section record. “It feels great to come back after my sophomore year which was pretty rough and tearing my ACL my junior year. This was my last and final chance to win it all and I came out here and did it without a doubt in my mind.”
No one could blame her for having doubts after suffering that devastating knee injury her junior year in volleyball and missing chunks of time this season with a hamstring injury. But not Foster, the girl with the golden heart and matching medal to go with it.
“This morning I told myself I wasn’t walking away without a medal,” said Foster, who’s attending Oregon come fall.
And come to think – Foster had potential to become a track and field superstar, with state level times in the 100, 200 and 100 hurdles this season and early in her career. But, instead of burying her head in the sand and playing the “woe is me” card, she fought the good fight with some help from above.
“I came out on top and I thank God for it,” Foster says. “With all the adversity I wouldn’t take it back, it was a humbling experience.”
Waller knows best
For Buchanan’s Hannah Waller, one would think the defending 400 champ would wear the windbreaker of disappointment after finishing second in this year’s race – but not the girl who’s won a total of eight state medals in her illustrious career. And get this – her time Saturday night of 53.01 is a new Central Section record, besting her 53.11 set at last year’s meet.
The Oregon commit placed third in the 200 with a smokin’ 23.53 and in the process broke Jenna Prandini’s Central Section record. Hence, her feeling of excitement, not the agony of defeat.
“I feel great, I just PRd twice and I’m surprised I have this much energy still,” said Waller, who admitted she eats a pre-made sub sandwich before every meet. “I couldn’t ask for a better season and to wear a Buchanan jersey and represent CUSD for a last time – it couldn’t have ended a better way.”
Her next school meet will come at the University of Oregon where she’ll join fellow medal winner Foster.
Best friends throw it down, or should we say throw it far
The state meet marked the last time close friends and training partners Jacob Wilson and McKay Johnson stood in line together and waited their turn to throw a disc or the 12-pound shot put.
In fact, it’s not uncommon to see those two encourage each other during an event, even when it’s the state finals.
And while they tangled in fierce competition throughout a highly decorated season, they can hang their heads high after walking out of Veterans Memorial Stadium one last time with some impressive hardware.
Wilson and Johnson finished third (188-6) and Johnson fourth (188-4) in the discus and pulled off the ol’ switcheroo in the shot put with Johnson third (60-7.25) and Wilson fourth (59-8.75).
“I was happy with how it ended up and the series I had,” said Johnson about his discus throws, the first event of the day at a blistering 104 degrees. “It’s a great feeling, I had no idea after my junior year that I would end up here.”
After admitting that he didn’t put in the time and effort last season, Johnson made a choice – go ahead and be the best thrower he could be or shut it down. He obviously went for it; not only was he rewarded with a fantastic season but also an athletic scholarship to Cal-Berkeley.
“I dedicated myself to these events this year and my goal was to simply come out and put in a hundred percent into it every day,” Johnson said.
And we can’t forget McKay Johnson’s cousin Jonah Johnson from Clovis High who finished in sixth place in the discus with 182-09.
Lauren Moffett feelin’ good in the neighborhood
There’s little doubt Lauren Moffett has relished in a much decorated high school career – TRAC and North Area team championship, mucho individual medals including a gold in the Masters in the 1600 and a sliver in the 3200 after sweeping the TRAC Championships in both event.
But Moffett, the strawberry blond with the bubbly personality, the crowning moment in her senior year was earning herself a medal at the 2016 CIF State Track and Field Championships in the 1600 with an excellent sixth place finish.
“I was feeling good and excited for sure,” said Moffett, who’s attending Vanderbilt. “The whole race went out pretty slow and the last 600 to go, and after I picked someone off, I started to roll with it and got momentum.”
With 100 meters to go she looked up and saw the finish line and proclaimed: “I’m going to podium.”
Yes, she did, along with a million smiles.
Other CUSD medal winners included: Fourth – Boys 300 intermediate hurdles: Paramveer Chohan, Buchanan, 37.48; Fifth – Girls pole vault: Brooke Tjerrild, Clovis North, 12-2; Sixth- Girls triple jump: Remington Mahlum, Buchannan, 38-3.75.