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DIVISION I TRACK: Centennial stars go out with records, another team title

CARSON CITY — All the other competitors in the girls 1,600-meter relay left the podium Saturday, 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 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 and then teamed with Bonds, Holli Dunn and Tyler Rowlette less than 20 minutes later to win the relay in 3:50.39.

“After my 800, my cool-down was basically my warmup for the (3,200) and my cool-down for the (3,200) was the warmup for the (1,600 relay),” Badger said. “It was one after another, but it’s fun.”

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 earlier this season at the Mt. SAC Relays in California.

“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.”

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’ve never seen that before. That’s so nice,” Bonds said. “I don’t know what I’ll do with it yet, but it’s pretty cool. Maybe I’ll put it on a chain or something.”

Foothill’s Drea Austin won the girls 100 in 12.05, Jocelyn Jordan of Arbor View won the girls triple jump (38 feet, ¾ inches) and Ashlie Blake of Liberty won her third straight title in the shot put (50-1¼).

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). Green Valley was third with 54 points, while Arbor View and Canyon Springs tied for fourth with 51 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. Dajour Braxton was second to Liberty’s Martin Ponce in the boys 1,600, and Anyah Nutter was second to Randall Cunningham II of Bishop Gorman in the boys high jump, 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.”

Cunningham cleared 6-11 to win his third state title in the high jump. He set the bar at 7-2½ in an effort to regain the national lead in the event, but the Southern California signee missed his three attempts.

Silverado’s Dominic Smallwood added the boys long jump title to the triple jump crown he won on Friday, posting a mark of 24-1¼. Liberty’s Reno Tu’ufuli repeated in the boys discus with a throw of 179-4.

Arbor View’s Dorian Williams was the winner of the boys 110 hurdles (14.49), but teammate Ivy Dobson wasn’t as fortunate as he faded to a third-place finish in the 400 and pulled up with a calf injury midway through the 200.

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