Preps

Wednesday, Apr 02 2014 10:41 PM

Focused, Liberty's Morganne Hill shines at SWYL meet

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    The 3rd section of the girl's 200-meter race is photographed with a slow shutter speed to capture the motion blur during the SWYL track meet at Liberty High Wednesday.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Frontier pole-vaulter Kaitlyn Sabo concentrates on her attempt during the SWYL track meet at Liberty High Wednesday. She took 1st place.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Frontier's Gabriel Gaeta has a commanding lead at the last hurdle of the 300-meter race at the SWYL track meet at Liberty High.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Good sportsmanship is exhibited during the SWYL track meet at Liberty High.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Liberty High's Morganne Hill has a tremendous lead at the finish of the 300-meter hurdles during the SWYL track meet at Liberty High Wednesday.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Track fans watch the SWYL track meet at Liberty High Wednesday as the weather turned a bit chilly.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    BHS' Jeremiah Foster concentrates as he approaches the bar in the high jump during the SWYL track meet at Liberty High Wednesday. He took 1st place in the event.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Stockdale's Blake Haney has the lead in the 2nd lap of the 800-meter race at the SWYL track meet at Liberty High.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    BHS Mikalea Romanini runs with one shoe and one sock and has the lead in the 800-meter race at the SWYL track meet at Liberty High Wednesday.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Liberty High's Jordan Love clears the bar in the high jump and ties for 2nd place with teammate Jackson Carroll in the SWYL track meet at Liberty High.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    The junior varsity 800-meter 2nd section race runs in a tight pack in the first lap at the SWYL track meet at Liberty High.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Stockdale High takes 1st and 2nd in the 100 meters with Corey Collins, right, taking 1st and Adarius Rowel taking 2nd at the SWYL track meet at Liberty High Wednesday.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Frontier High pole-vaulter Chris Hazel is on his way to clearing the bar and taking 1st place in the SWYL track meet at Liberty High with a personal record Wednesday.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    BHS Scotty Newton gets a lot of air competing in the triple jump in the SWYL track meet at Liberty High.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    BHS' Mikalea Romanini finishes the 400-meter race with a commanding lead at the SWYL track meet at Liberty High.

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BY ZACH EWING Californian staff writer zewing@bakersfield.com

By refraining from eating cookies, Liberty junior Morganne Hill has made the early part of the track season a piece of cake.

For the second consecutive Southwest Yosemite League meet, Hill won three individual events and anchored the Patriots' victorious 1,600-meter relay Wednesday, leading Liberty to another team victory and serving notice that she'll again be a force at the CIF State Championships in June.

Afterward, she shared her secret.

"I've been taking it more seriously this year," said Hill, whose less-serious approach still yielded state medals in both hurdles events last year. "I'm working 10 times harder, just with my diet and getting enough sleep. I'm not eating Oreos anymore, which has been the hardest part. That's my weakness."

When a friend interjected, Hill amended.

"OK, I eat one every now and then, as a reward," Hill said.

Perhaps a Oreo is in order after four victories on a cold, blustery day. Hill's times of 14.60 seconds in the 100 hurdles, 42.99 in the 300 hurdles and 25.53 in the 200 weren't season-bests, but they were close on a day when conditions weren't ideal.

"I can just feel a huge difference from last year to this year," she said. "I'm getting stronger, and every race just seems easier."

Liberty's 1,600 relay time was a season-best 4:07.43 and was keyed by a 53-second split from freshman Anuoluwa Ayeni, who was discovered earlier this month in the physical education class of Liberty coach Ryan Renz's wife, Yvette. Alexa Hill, Morganne's younger sister, then ran the third leg before handing off to Morganne.

The Patriots girls also claimed victories in the long jump (Ty Wallace, 16-0), high jump (Nikki Leonard, 4-10) and discus (Rae Blansett, 137-9).

"We have such an awesome team, and I'm having so much fun," Morganne Hill said. "We're all improving, and it makes me want to keep going, too."

On the boys side, Bakersfield High won the team title behind Derrick Vickers' win in a wild 110 hurdles race. His 14.87 was the Central Section's best time this season -- and was followed in close succession by Frontier's Gabe Gaeta (14.88), Stockdale's Alec Benavides (14.91) and Independence's Isaac Clark (14.95).

"I've never had a race like that, where it was four of us that close," said Gaeta, who went on to win the 300 hurdles in 39.63. "I think we just pushed each other so much, and that's why we all went sub 15 (seconds)."

The Drillers also had a double victory from Scotty Newton, who marked a season-best 23-11.5 in the long jump and 45-1 in the triple jump.

Stockdale senior Blake Haney won three events: His signature 1,600 (4:26.15) and 3,200 (9:27.76), events in which he's the defending state champion, plus the 800 (1:58.04), which he's been running to improve his top-end speed.

"My main goal is to defend my state titles and break four (minutes) in the mile," Haney said. "The 800 helps me do both."

Other double winners were: Frontier's Colton Foster in the boys shot put (57-0.5) and discus (171-10), Bakersfield's Maggie Baker in the girls 1,600 (5:22.54) and 3,200 (11:47.34) and Bakersfield's Mikaela Romanini in the girls 400 (59.21) and 800 (2:23.40).

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