Section track and field: 17 ranked among state’s top 5; 12 league meets this week

As a combination of 12 league meets will be held this week in the Central Section, the region has gathered steam for the CIF State Track and Field Championships in four weeks at Buchanan’s Veterans Memorial Stadium by elevating 17 individual or relays among the state’s top five rankings.

Buchanan senior Taylor Smith leads the state in the boys high jump at 6-10 1/4 after placing fourth in the state last year at 6-8.

That includes three No. 1s in Stockdale junior Blake Haney in the 1,600 (4:10.39) and 3,200 (8:48.58), and Buchanan’s Taylor Smith in the high jump (6-10 1/4).

Smith, in breaking the school record previously held by his brother, Travis (6-10), took over the state lead in Friday’s Reedley Invitational.

It was there that Edison’s girls section a section record by blazing 3:47.95 in the 1,600 relay with twins Tia and Tar Edwards, Nailah Harris-Murillo and Njeri Omawahleh. That broke the school’s own previous section standard of 3:48.08 in 2009 while moving the Tigers to No. 3 in the state this season.

Edison’s girls, also Friday at Reedley, clocked 47.13 for No. 6 all-time in the section in the 400 relay with Jazmen Bunch, Harris-Murillo, Omawahleh and Melese Crozier. That ranks No. 4 in the state.

And yet also at Reedley, Buchanan freshman phenom Hannah Waller zipped a 54.77 in the 400 — No. 2 all-time for a freshman in the section, No. 3 all-time in the section overall and No. 2 in the state this season.

Here are the section’s individuals and relays ranked among the state’s top five:

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Iconic long-distance presence at Friday’s Reedley Invitational

Former Reedley High long-distance running great Pete Romero will “pass the torch” to Stockdale junior Blake Haney Friday in a special introduction at the Reedley Invitational.

It will be a Hall of Fame moment regarding Central Section long distance running at Friday’s 70th Reedley Invitational.

At about 5:30 p.m., at Reedley High, section track and field historian Ron Blackwood will introduce the leading 3,200-meter runners in Valley history — Stockdale’s Blake Haney and Reedley’s Pete Romero.

Haney, a junior, clocked 8 minutes and 48.58 seconds three weeks ago at the Arcadia Invitational to break Romero’s 46-year section record of 8:49.4.

Romero’s mark was a 2-mile time converted to 3,200 meters. Metric distances were implemented in the section in 1980.

“It will be Pete passing the torch, so to speak, to Blake,” says Aggie Contreras, Reedley’s coach and director of one of the state’s longest-running meets. “We thought it was a good idea.”

Also competing at Reedley in a meet that will begin at 3:30 p.m. will be Buchanan’s Cody Brazeal, who has run the fastest true 1,600 in section history at 4:07.72. Romero ran a converted 4:06.4 in his senior season at Reedley in 1967.

And yet another all-time section great entered Friday will be Madera South’s Jose Herrera, the Division I cross country champion in the fall, who is ranked No. 2 in the section this season in both the 1,600 (4:12.03) and 3,200 (9:07.82). Haney is No. 1 this season in the 1,600 (4:10.39).

Haney is top-ranked in the state for the season in both the 1,600 and 3,200. Herrera is No. 6 in the 1,600 and No. 9 in the 3,200.

Haney, Herrera and Brazeal are expected to represent the section well in the CIF State Track and Field Championships May 31 and June 1 at Buchanan’s Veterans Memorial Stadium.