Track team finishes season with high marks

Leanne Cave

Bakersfield College will be well-represented at the Southern California Regional Track and Field Finals on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

While the weather conditions made it tough for the athletes to compete at the preliminaries May 3, the ‘Gades secured 19 spots (men and women combined) for the finals.

“The rain and wind factor made this a very difficult meet to stage and very difficult for athletes to compete,” said Bob Covey, men’s track and field coach.

“This is one of the toughest meets as far as competition is concerned because we face some of the most talented athletes in the state before we get to the finals.”

Even though the day was cold and wet, the men’s track and field events were hotter than the blazes and extremely competitive.

Jerome Miller showed why he’s the state leader and undefeated in the 110-meter high hurdles as he recorded the fastest time of the event, (14.55 seconds). He also captured a third-place finish in the 400 hurdles (54.41).

Michael Mitchell placed fourth in the 400 hurdles behind Miller.

Nick Cramer had a positive performance for the ‘Gades as he qualified for the finals in both the 800-meters and the 1,500.

The track didn’t have much of a chance to cool off as far the Renegade men were concerned.

Jason Lopes, the defending conference champion in the 100 and 200 kept the track warmed up winning the 100 and placing third in the 200.

“I’m really excited. Last year I did not qualify for the 100 meters, this year I made it in both the 100 and 200 meters,” Lopes said. “A hamstring injury is really big for track athletes. I’ve been running hurt and it’s like God is pushing me through. I’m winning my events.”

The absence of Filip Walotka, state leader in the 400 made a big difference as far as the relay teams were concerned.

This is one of the few times that BC has failed to qualify a relay team for the SoCal finals.

“Our biggest disappointment was the fact that Walotka couldn’t compete for us in the 400 meters as well as the relays,” said Covey.

“There’s no doubt our stocks have gone down because of his injury. Before Filip went down we could have finished in the top three, now we could possibly finish in the top five.”

The men were also strong in the field events. BC qualified three in the hammer throw and three in the shot put. J.P. Fruguglietti, Brody Beecher and Leo Chaves qualified for the hammer throw, while Beecher, Chaves and Shannon Odom qualified for the shot. Josh Lopes rounded out the field qualifiers as he placed third in the long jump.

“The hammer throw is the hot event of the field event. It is the most competitive event in the state,” said Covey.

The Renegade women also wrote their names in the track and field history books.

“We qualified nine for the SoCal finals,” said Pam Kelley, women’s track and field coach.

“That’s a good chunk of people that we advanced. If we perform as well as we did in the prelims, we will have done well. We are very proud of our girls, we have been successful this season.”

The M&M squad (Megan Clutter, Miesha Thomason and Miranda Lewis) led the way for the women.

“I call those three my M&M’s,” said Kelley. They have been solid in multiple events for two years.”

In the field events, the women were impressive.

Megan Clutter placed first in the javelin throw with a 123-foot, 10-inch toss. Clutter, Vanntha Chann, Kathy Porter and Shelly Rice qualified for the hammer throw.

Rice also qualified in the discus as well as the shot put.

Miranda Lewis made her presence known as she qualified in four events, the javelin throw, the long jump, the triple jump and the high jump.

The women also had a good day on the track.

Miesha Thomason qualified in the 400 hurdles with a season best time of 1:06.35 and qualified for the 100 hurdles with a seventh-place finish.

In the 1,500-meter event, Adela Flores placed sixth while Brooklan Grimes finished 10th rounding out the top 12 qualifiers for the event. Grimes also qualified for the 5,000 meters.

“We kind of anticipated how the meet would go and we’re proud of how our kids performed in the prelims,” said Covey. “We have 19 spots to contest in the finals on Saturday.

“We just want them to compete like champions and always do their best. It’s supposed to be 86 degrees on Saturday, a nice day for a track meet.”

Field events begin at 12:30 p.m. at Memorial Stadium.