From left to right: Evan Bates, Solomon Strader, Kai Wingo and Natalie Ramirez. Photo courtesy of Brenda Ramirez

Wingo wins state title, Foothill League athletes excel at CIF State Track and Field Championships

The 2019 CIF State Track and Field Championships featured nine athletes from the Foothill League, and they didn’t disappoint, with Valencia’s Kai Wingo taking home a state title plus several other competitors reaching the podium at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Clovis on Saturday.

Heading into the finals, Wingo had the best time in California in the boys 800-meter at 1 minute and 52.08 seconds. He broke his own record and set a new standard in the race, finishing with a time of 1:51.71, edging Chase Gordon of Jesuit High School who finished at 1:51.74.

“I can finally rest, just watch the sunrise tomorrow after the great season I had. It’s really nice to have an accomplishment that I can talk about for the rest of my life. Now whenever they look up last year’s winner it’ll say Kai Wingo,” he said. “It’s something that you will never forget, it’s something that’s going to be with me forever.

“It’s nice for Santa Clarita, Kai has worked so hard the past few years, he’s grown a lot. He is so easy to root for, such a hard worker and good kid,” said West Ranch’s Solomon Strader. “We had dinner yesterday right before the race, he’s easy to talk to. He’s just a great athlete, seeing him win was the highlight of the day for me.”

Strader competed in the boys 400-meter earlier in the day, finishing in third place with a time of 47.10 behind Zachary Larrier of Monterey Trail High School (46.73) and Brayden Borquez of Harvard-Westlake (46.83).

“I felt pretty comfortable, I thought I could catch a couple of them coming off the curve, but you have to give credit to Brayden and Zach, they ran well,” Strader said. “I know I still have some work to do.”

The first event of the day was the boys discus, with Jacob Lopez from Canyon and Kienan Donovan from Golden Valley both competing.

Lopez hit a 171-5 on his final throw to finish in sixth place and earn a trip to the podium. Donovan came in right behind him in seventh with a throw of 170-5 on his fourth attempt.

Both also competed in the boys shot put, where Lopez finished No. 10 (56-7 3/4) and Donovan finished No. 12 (52-9 3/4).

Natalie Ramirez of West Ranch also competed in both the girls discus and shot put, placing in both events.

She hit a mark of 159 in the discus, earning third place and finished in fourth in shot put with a throw of 44-1/2.

After the shot put event, an emotional Ramirez reflected on her high school career.

“I was proud to go out there and represent West Ranch for the last time, it’s been a crazy ride,” she said. “I was proud to be repping that “WR” all the way through it.”

Her Foothill League counterpart, Shyann Franklin of Golden Valley, finished in second place in shot put.

Franklin’s sixth and final throw went for a PR of 48-3/4, and she immediately celebrated with Ramirez after the throw and then with her coach Kyle Donovan and the rest of her supporters.

“I just feel so proud of myself. This is my last high school meet and my last six throws and I just went after it,” Franklin said. “That last one, when I warmed up and I went into the ring I just felt it and I said this is going to be the one. I finally proved to myself that I can do it.”

“Shyann is amazing, I’m so proud of her. When Shyann is out there with me, we calm each other down, we’re there for each other,” Ramirez said. “I’m always happy to have that familiar face around, it’s like a league meet because Shyann is right there with me.”

In the boys high jump, Canyon’s Tyler Cash turned heads from the get-go. He didn’t miss a jump in his first four attempts, and hit a PR of 6-9 on his first try. That personal record wouldn’t last, as shortly after he cleared a jump of 6-10.

He battled against Beau Allen of San Marcos High School as they were the only two to clear 6-10. Cash had three attempts at 6-11, but couldn’t get over and finished in second place as Allen won after he cleared 6-11 it on his first jump.

As the night was coming to a close, Evan Bates of West Ranch and Ethan Danforth of Canyon still had their race to go, the boys 3,200-meter.

After setting a PR in the 3,200-meter at the Masters Meet last week, Bates wasn’t finished, setting a new personal record on Saturday with a time of 9:02.03, earning sixth place and a trip to the podium.

Danforth finished No. 22 with a time of 9:24.16.

“I realized where I came from my freshman year and what I’ve been able to accomplish in my four years at high school and all the people who have helped me through this whole experience,” Bates said. “It’s just been life-changing and to end it like this, I couldn’t ask for anything else. It’s a dream come true.”

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