By Joey Gulino
CLOVIS – The CIF State Track and Field Championships provide arguably the toughest prep competition in the nation.
Therefore, it could be argued that three City athletes are among the best in the nation in their respective events.
University runner Bridget Blum, St. Ignatius jumper Michellie McDonald-O’Brien and Lincoln thrower Collin Luu, all seniors, qualified for Saturday’s state finals in their respective events during Friday’s state prelims at Buchanan High School.
Following an outstanding senior season in cross country, Blum will now run in the state finals for the girls 1,600-meter race after finishing 10th overall on Friday with a time of 4 minutes, 58.59 seconds.
The 1,600 takes 12 participants to the finals, while every other event takes nine with the exceptions of the 3,200 and the high jump.
McDonald-O’Brien was the second-to-last jumper to clear 5 feet, 5 inches in the girls high jump, and she’ll compete for a state title today because of it. She came in with a seed height of 5-7, so a top-six finish and place on the state podium is a possibility.
Luu’s qualification for the state finals is the biggest surprise of the three, as he came in with a seed mark of 162-1 in the boys discus. He threw 175-6 on his last two attempts on Friday, finishing seventh overall to qualify for the state finals.
A wealth of other City athletes competed on Friday but didn’t advance. Five athletes recorded top-20 finishes in the prelims, led by Sacred Heart Cathedral’s Tyhana Cooper, whose second throw of 39-11 was good for 13th overall in the girls shot put.
Lincoln’s Cathy Cai finished right behind her in 14th with a mark of 39-10 3/4 on her third and final throw, while teammate Jaylyn Allston finished 18th in the girls discus at 116-7 on her first attempt.
Lowell’s William Chen wound up 19th in the boys 800 with a time of 1:55.04, while University’s Jennie Callan couldn’t quite join her teammate Blum in the girls 1,600 finals, finishing 15th overall in the prelims in 5:04.51.
Lincoln’s Felicity Serena finished her high school career by competing in the girls 100 and 100 hurdles. She finished 21st in the hurdles with a time of 15.20 seconds, and she was 21st in the 100 at 12.24 seconds.
Fellow Lincoln senior Cameron Chu competed in the boys 110 and 300 hurdles, finishing 24th in the 110 in 15.83 seconds and 26th in the 300 in 39.80 seconds.
Lincoln senior sprinter Steven Burks finished 27th in the boys 200 in 22.90 seconds, and he was also 26th in the 400 in 51.13 seconds. Sacred Heart Cathedral’s Edward Lampkin also competed in the 400, finishing a spot ahead of Burks in 25th with a time of 50.41 seconds.
Lowell senior Melanie Speech was a state finalist in two events, finishing 25th overall in the girls long jump with a mark of 16-3 3/4 and 28th overall in the 200 in 26.70 seconds.
In the field, Galileo’s Stanley Chen cleared 6-2 to finish 24th overall in the boys high jump, while Lincoln senior Michelle Cai went 31-2 to finish 25th in the girls triple jump.
Two Lincoln sophomores, Tyree Marzetta and Jerry Johnson, also competed on Friday. Marzetta went 20-7 1/2 to finish 31st in the long jump, while Johnson recorded a mark of 46-10 on his first shot put attempt to finish 26th.
On the track, Lowell’s Prudence Sax finished 24th in the girls 800 in 2:22.26, while teammate Mandy Che was 26th in the girls 400 in 1:00.29. Lowell’s Robin Yee wound up 27th in the girls 300 hurdles in 47.41 seconds, and teammate Max Niehaus finished 31st in the boys 1,600 prelims in 4:49.76.
In the relays, the Lowell boys 4×400 team finished 25th overall with a time of 3:28.75, while the girls 4×400 team was 26th overall at 4:06.65. The Lincoln boys 4×100 team ended up 28th in 43.63 seconds.