By KERRY BENEFIELD
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
And then there were three.
Freshmen Rylee Bowen and Kirsten Carter, as well as senior Allison Scranton, all advanced to Saturday’s finals of the CIF Track and Field Championship in Clovis. It is Scranton’s second consecutive appearance in the finals.
Carter, who missed making it a double by .35 seconds, qualified as the second seed in the finals of the 400 meters with a time of 54:94. The top seed, Hannah Waller of Buchanan High of Clovis, running on her home track, finished with a time of 53:78.
Carter fell short in the 200 meters, posting a time of 24:54 to take 12th place. The top nine advanced.
But she sparkled in the 400 meters.
“My strategy was to stick with the second fastest in the heat and get her in the end,” she said. She had to adjust her plan on the final stretch when she felt pressure from other runners.
“When I saw that, I don’t think second is going to work,” she said.
She crossed the line first.
Her fellow freshman, Sonoma Academy’s Bowen, advanced to the finals of the 1600 meters with the seventh-fastest time, 4:50.82. The top seed, Destiny Collins of Great Oak High School in Temecula, finished in 4:47.26.
Bowen, who won the Division 5 state cross country title last fall, ran the fastest 1600-meter time in the nation for a freshman at the North Coast Section Meet of Champions last week. She was seeded third going into Friday’s preliminaries.
“I was hoping it would go out a little slower,” she said. “I’d prefer it going out a little slower so I can kick in. I realized I was in fifth with 100 to go and I was like ‘Shoot,’ and I tried to kick faster but my legs gave up on me.”
Petaluma High’s Scranton, making a return appearance in the discus, advanced to the finals after what she described as a personally disappointing preliminary round.
Her throw of 135 feet, nine inches sends her through to the finals as the seventh seed. She finished sixth last year.
Scranton said she felt “relief that my doing bad isn’t going to hold me back from (the final round).”
But it will keep her from her graduation ceremony — which is just fine by Scranton, who realized mid-competition that she had so counted on advancing that she was unprepared should she actually attend her commencement.
“I don’t have a Plan B,” she said. “Once I knew I was in, I was like, ‘Whew, I don’t have to buy a dress.’ ”
Scranton, who will throw at Utah State next fall, said she’s excited for the finals.
“It’s going to be my last high school track meet so I’m going to have fun,” she said.
Rancho Cotate senior Justin Zinnerman, making his third appearance at the state track meet, failed to match his season best of 6 feet, 8 inches in the high jump and did not make Saturday’s final round. Zinnerman’s personal record is 6 feet, 9 inches, which he set last year.
That disappointment was tempered some by a surprise graduation celebration for the senior, who missed his commencement in Rohnert Park on Friday night. Family, friends and school officials gave Zinnerman an early send-off at the class of 2015’s grad practice Thursday afternoon.
“I feel good about everything,” he said.
Casa Grande’s Nicholas Rauch, who had qualified in both the 1600 meters and 800 meters, but who dropped the longer distance to better his chances at the 800 meters, finished a disappointing 21st with a time of 1:56.13, well off his qualifying time of 1:54.46.
“I’m not sure what happened, but regardless, I need to get over it and keep trying,” he said.
Sonoma Valley junior Isabel Garon topped the opening height of 11 feet, 2 inches in the pole vault but failed to top the next height. 11 feet, 8 inches, and will not advance to Saturday’s final. Petaluma’s Natalie Gilmore failed to top 11-2 in her final high school track meet.
The weather in Clovis was a near-balmy 87 degrees Friday with a cooling breeze. The state meet has been held in temperatures that have cracked the century mark in years past.
Temperatures on Saturday are expected to hit 90 degrees.
You can reach staff columnist Kerry Benefield at 526-8671 or email@example.com, on Twitter @benefield and on Instagram at kerry.benefield.