Miliana Pérez is only a freshman at Clovis North, so who does she think she is running stride-by-stride alongside Buchanan High greats Meagen Lowe and Corie Smith in the girls 1,600- and 3,200-meter races?
Answer: Good enough to slide past Smith, a junior, for second place in the shorter distance at the May 8 CIF North Area Meet at Madera High School with a personal-best 5:02.54. Lowe, a senior, won in 5:02.39.
“I’ve been chasing them for a long time,” said Pérez after her 1,600-meter race. “I’ve always been about 3-5 seconds away from Corie, but getting a lot closer.”
Pérez – who will be among those competing in Saturday’s (May 18) CIF Central Section Meet at Buchanan High for a chance to advance to the May 24-25 state meet at the same site – will have more chances to catch up with the Buchanan duo and possibly break the 5-minute mark.
She welcomes the challenge.
“Some people don’t like super competition in this race,” said Pérez. “I do.”
Pérez took up running in middle school and balanced that with soccer. However, she gave up soccer in high school so that she could focus on running.
Pérez is expected to challenge at Saturday’s Valley meet in the 1,600-meter race.
She finished third in the area meet in the 3,200-meter race with a time of 11:16.5, far behind Lowe (10:52.56) and Smith (10:52.6).
“I do look up to them,” said Pérez.
At the area meet, Pérez wasn’t the only Clovis North athlete to shine.
Juniors Isaiah Galindo and Joshua Ochoa placed 1-2 in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter races.
Ochoa lunged at the finish of the shorter race to post a personal-best 4:24.59. Galindo won in 4:24.43. Central High’s Abel-Rudisha Teffra was third in 4:25.27.
“I told myself mentally to stick with Isaiah,” said Ochoa. “He’s amazing!”
Ochoa said the race was more about placing in the top three than going for time.
“We wanted a pace that was more comfortable,” said Ochoa. “If in the last two laps a sub-4:20 was possible, then we’d kick.”
The duo had to make up a couple of places in the 3,200-meter race, with Galindo winning in 9:44.75 and Ochoa second in 9:45.27. Central High’s Teffra was third in 9:46.05.
At the Valley meet, Galindo said the goal will be to pick up the pace in the final two laps and then kick at the end.
Among the Latinos to watch at the Valley meet is Liberty High (Bakersfield) senior Daniel Viveros, the defending state champion in the shot put. Viveros has a national-best shot put of 71-3, which he accomplished at the CIF South Area Meet.
Viveros, who is headed to the University of Mississippi, is also ranked among the nation’s best in the discus.
CIF Central Section Track Meet
Latinos to watch
Boys: Edison High senior Bryan Bañuelos (800 meters); Roosevelt High senior Daniel De La Torre (110- and 300-meter hurdles); Clovis East senior Enrique Quiñonez (high jump); Monache High junior Isaiah Sotelo (800 meters); Tulare Union senior Joseph Macareno (1,600 and 3,200 meters); Monache High senior Iván Méndez (3,200 meters); Porterville High junior Jorge Sánchez (3,200 meters); Kingsburg High senior Kalobe Jiménez (110- and 300-meter hurdles); Redwood High junior Brandon Andrade (110- and 300-meter hurdles); Tulare Western junior Aaron Tejeda (shot put, discus); Dinuba High junior Esteván Díaz (shot put); Tulare Union senior Fernando Lomelí (pole vault); Stockdale High senior Luis Torres (100- and 200-meters); Highland High junior Mario Gutiérrez (800 meters); Stockdale High sophomore Luis-Ramón Torres (110-meter hurdles); Shafter High senior Marco Rodríguez (300-meter hurdles); Arvin High junior Jesús Álvarez (high jump, long jump).
Girls: Sanger High freshman Daylah González (100 meters); Selma high junior Mía Salinas (400 meters, 300-meter hurdles); Monache High senior Marilou Ruiz (800 and 1,600 meters); Redwood High senior Kylee Dismuke-Rodríguez (800 meters); Sanger High freshman Nia Lamas (1,600 and 3,200 meters); Tulare Western junior Nadia Salcedo (3,200 meters); South High junior Serena Cisneros (400 meters); Wasco High senior Valeria Valdez (800 meters), Wasco High senior Sayra Raya (1,600 meters, 3,200 meters); McFarland High senior Devianna Salcedo (1,600 meters); McFarland High sophomore Hilda González (3,200 meters); Highland High senior Jessianne Solís (shot put, discus); Independence High senior Taylor López (high jump).