College of the Sequoias students capture four individual titles at NorCal track and field championships
VISALIA – Four students put their best foot forward and each brought home a gold medal for track and field championships in Northern California – not only that, but they’re four of 11 students that made it to state championships.
College of the Sequoias produced four gold medalists – two men and two women – during the California Community College Athletic Association’s Northern California Track and Field Championships.
Justyce Kahuanahana won the 110-meter hurdles and Shane Bagley captured the pole vault for the Giants’ men, while Ejaiya Burton placed first in the 400 and Ivy Miller was first in the 400 hurdles for the women to highlight Sequoias’ individual performances during the meet held May 12-13 at Yuba College.
All four, as well as nine other Giants, have qualified to compete in the CCCAA State Championships scheduled for May 19-20 at Modesto Junior College.
Kahuanahana saved his best for last in winning the men’s 110 hurdles.
The sophomore from Hawaii was fourth in preliminaries in 15.30 seconds.
But in the final, Kahuanahana finished in 14.85, 0.07 seconds ahead of Diablo Valley’s Vincent Corday and Sequoias teammate Alexander Mederos (Tulare Western High). Kahuanahana and Mederos, who officially placed third in 14.92, both qualified for the state meet.
Sequoias coach Kenny Jackson praised the Giants’ training staff, led by head trainer Lisa Lorenzi, for helping Kahuanahana overcome a hip injury that kept him from hurdling during the early part of the season.
“They got him recovered and rehabbed, and when it was time to start hurdling again, he was strong,” Jackson said. “He peaked at the right time.”
In the 14-man pole vault finals field, only Bagley (Lemoore) and Modesto’s Aaron Wood cleared 15-feet, 9-inches, setting up a two-man showdown for the NorCal title.
Bagley cleared the next height at 16-4 in his first attempt, while Wood failed to get over the bar on all three of his attempts.
“He was impressive, man,” Jackson said. “He met one of his goals to be No. 1 in Northern California. Now he’s looking to be the state champion, and I believe he can do it.”
Bagley, who is trained by nationally renowned former Fresno State track and field coach Bob Fraley, owns the best junior college pole vault mark in the nation at 17-0, achieved earlier this season. He attempted to extend his season-best vault to 17-2, but failed to clear that height in three attempts.
“With the work ethic he has and then the coaching he has, it’s the perfect blend for success,” Jackson said.
Sequoias’ 4×100 relay team and Chase Huguenard also had top-three finishes to lead the Giants’ men to a fifth-place team finish with 52 points. Modesto was the men’s team champion with 121.5 points.
Noah Jimenez (Kingsburg), Derrick Jones (Houston), Kahuanahana and Isaiah Kemp (Hawaii) combined to place second in the 400 relay in 41.10 to qualify for state. Huguenard (Righetti-Santa Maria) was third in the shot put in a state meet-qualifying 47-9.75.
Also reaching the men’s finals for the Giants were Jones in the 200 (fourth in a state meet-qualifying 21.66), Alberto Nunez in the javelin (fifth in a state meet-qualifying 161-8), Kahuanahana in the 400 hurdles (seventh in 55.03), Mederos in the 400 hurdles (55.62); Jimenez in the long jump (ninth in 21-2) and Amier Hollis (Lemoore) in the decathlon (12th with 4,794 points). Hollis’ best performance came in the high jump, which he won with a mark of 6-4.25.
For the women, Burton (Tulare Western) reached the finals in four events, highlighted by her performance in the 400, where she ran 55.77 to top Diablo Valley’s Christina Trucks (56.23) for first place and a berth in the state meet. Trucks had beaten Burton during preliminaries, 57.92 to 58.89.
“We overloaded them during the trials, expecting them to peak in the finals,” Jackson said. “Our goal wasn’t to win the trials. Our goal was to win NorCal.”
Burton also qualified for state in the 200, finishing third in 25.04, and was a member of the seventh-place 1,600 relay (4:14.44) and the eighth-place 400 relay (50.43). Tiana Holland (Washington Union-Easton), Ivy Miller (Exeter) and Donajah Taylor (Tulare Union) joined Burton on both relay teams.
Burton qualified for the finals in the long jump, but didn’t post a qualifying mark after finishing eighth in preliminaries in 16-7.25.
“She was determined,” Jackson said of Burton, a full-time student and full-time working mother with a 2-year-old. “This wasn’t an easy season for her. But through her hard work, dedication and patience, you see the outcome. I’m really proud of her.”
Miller captured the Giants other gold medal and qualified for state while winning the 400 hurdles in 1:04.02, dropping 2 seconds off her best time, to help the women’s team finish eighth with 37 points. Hartnell was the womens’ team champion with 167.5 points.
Miller ran the fourth fastest time in preliminaries (1:07.02) behind Merritt’s Isela Ochoa (1:03.16) and Hartnell’s Roxana Ruelas (1:06.26), but smoked second-place Ruelas by more than 2 seconds in the final.
“A lot of it had to do with how she prepared her body to get through a tough season,” Jackson said of his freshman team captain. “She knew she had to have what I call an ‘out of body’ experience to win that race. We talked about starting the race faster. And she was in shape to hold a pace she’s not used to holding. Now, I’m looking forward to what she can do at state.”
Miller was ninth in the high jump in 4-7 and 11th in the 100 hurdles in 16.33.
The Giants’ women also had two finalists in the 5,000, with Liliana Salado (Mt. Whitney) placing second in a state-qualifying 19:29.28, and Anahi Loza (Golden West) placing 11th in 22:09.74.
In preliminary action, Sequoias women had Taylor place 19th in the triple jump (25-11); Itzell Barrios (Monache-Porterville) place 13th in the discus (106-2), 15th in the hammer (106-2) and 20th in the shot put (28-0.75); and Riley Beeman (Monache) place 23rd in the javelin (81-0).
During prelims for the Giants’ men, Jimenez was 11th (10.78), Jones was 12th (10.80) and Kemp 21st (10.96) in the 100; Kemp was 14th in the 200 (22.89); Julian Reynoso (El Diamante) was 13th (51.36) and Jayden Torres (Monache) 16th (51.84) in the 400; Adam Aguilera (Tulare Union) was 17th in the 800 (2:04.44); Fernando Hernandez (Porterville) was 14th (4:11.44) and Anthony Illan (Redwood) was 17th (4:17.77) in the 1,500; Gary Turner (Atlanta) was 16th in the 400 hurdles (58.89); Hollis and Michael Williams (Golden West) tied for 16th (5-8.75) in the high jump; Octavio Gonzalez (McFarland) was 15th (11-11.75) in the pole vault; David Ankama (Clovis West) was 14th (20-2.5) in the long jump; Hollis was 15th (40-10.5) in then triple jump; Huguenard was 10th (41-4.5) and Leonardo Gonzalez (Tulare Western) was 15th (39-3) in the shot put; and Landon Husley (El Diamante) was 15th (139-4) and Hollis 17th (125-3) in the javelin.