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Stars lift Centennial to record fourth straight crown

CARSON CITY — All the other competitors in the girls 1,600 relay left the podium, but Centennial’s Sydney Badger and Tiana Bonds remained on the top step so they could be honored by the crowd at Carson High for the final time.

It was a fitting end for two of the top athletes in state history.

Thanks in large part to the efforts of its seniors stars, Centennial’s girls rolled to the team title Saturday at the Division I state track and field meet, becoming the first team to win four consecutive championships in the large-school division.

The Bulldogs racked up 110 points, nearly doubling the score posted by second-place Coronado (57 points).

“That has been our goal since the beginning of the season,” Badger said. “The coaches have been pounding that into our minds, so everyone on the team has been working hard. I know no one has outworked our team. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people.”

Badger, who signed with Michigan, won the 800 meters, the 3,200 and ran a leg on Centennial’s victorious 1,600 relay, all in the span of about two hours.

She led from start to finish in the 800, crossing the line in 2 minutes, 10.28 seconds, to set a state-meet record. In the 3,200, Badger outkicked Reno’s Kyra Hunsberger in the final 200 meters to win in 11:13.41, then teamed with Bonds, Holli Dunn and Tyler Rowlette less than 20 minutes later to win the 1,600 relay in 3:50.39.

Bonds won the girls 300 hurdles for the second straight year and lowered her own meet record to 41.47, though the Arizona recruit was unable to match her personal best in the event of 41.29 set this season at the Mt. SAC Relays in California.

Bonds, who collapsed on all fours after crossing the finish line, was later presented the shell from the starter’s gun as a keepsake from the final individual race of her stellar prep career.

“I just was trying to get a (time of) 40 (seconds) so bad, and at the end I was reaching with all I could,” Bonds said. “If I could have just timed the steps better, I could have done it, but it happens.”

Centennial’s boys team fell short in its quest for a third straight team title, as a disqualification in the 3,200 relay ultimately proved to be the difference. The Bulldogs scored 76 points to finish second behind champion McQueen (85 points).

Centennial appeared to win the day’s first event in 7:54.86, but officials ruled one of the Bulldogs runners stepped back before receiving the baton and created an “acceleration zone,” which moved McQueen from second to first.

Demarcus Joseph, Brandan Harley, Lantz Worthington and Corey Berner went on to win the boys 800 relay for the Bulldogs, while Dajour Braxton and Anyah Nutter were second in the boys 1,600 and boys high jump, respectively. But the 12-point swing from the DQ was too much to overcome.

“I feel bad for my kids who made this trip that I feel got robbed, and I’ll use that word,” Centennial coach Roy Sessions said. “I feel they were robbed of an opportunity to do something special. Going for three in a row for them is something special. I congratulate McQueen; they’re a great team, and they ran phenomenal all weekend.

“But it’s tough to accept, especially the work that my guys put in.”

Faith Lutheran won its second straight Division I-A girls team title, with 134 points, as Cayla Nikodemus and Clarissa Maxey finished 1-2 in the 100 and Haley Vinson was first in the triple jump with a mark of 35 feet, 10 inches.

Nikodemus blew past Maxey after 30 meters and set a meet record in 12.12 in her only race of the day. It was the second meet record for the junior and her third individual title of the weekend.

“We had some elements the other teams didn’t,” Nikodemus said. “We knew we had to finish first and second on the sprint team and dominate the field events, and we pulled off a pretty good weekend.”

Mark Rubalcaba won two events Saturday, but Faith Lutheran’s boys were unable to overcome Dayton’s depth in the throws and finished second in the team standings. Dayton had 100 points, followed by the Crusaders (84), Desert Pines (79) and Sunrise Mountain (73).

Rubalcaba broke the meet record in the boys long jump, which was set in 1972, with a mark of 24-0¾ and edged Desert Pines’ Eric Wilkes by one-hundreth of a second in the boys 200. The two were almost dead even coming off the turn and went stride for stride in the day’s most exciting race before Rubalcaba won in 22.07.

Faith Lutheran’s Chase Wood reeled in Aaron Elissa of Dayton in the final 20 meters to win the boys 1,600 in 4:32.84 and also ran a leg on the Crusaders’ 3,200 relay that finished second to Sunrise Mountain.

Sherman Nash set a meet record in the boys 400 in 48.67 for Sunrise Mountain.

In Division III, The Meadows got first-place finishes from Dani Chami (pole vault), Delaney Gosse (800), Bailey Gosse (3,200) and its 1,600 relay team but finished 10 points behind girls team champion White Pine. Calvary Chapel, which set a meet record in the 400 relay and received first-place points from Talia Sapp in the triple jump, was fifth.

Cameron Murphy successfully defended his title in the 400, and Noah Frizzel won the high jump as Calvary Chapel’s boys finished fourth.

Taevion Jackson won the boys 110 hurdles to help Spring Mountain finish second in the Division IV boys team standings.

Contact reporter David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidSchoenLVRJ.

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