Spirits rise at state

CLOVIS – All of the athletes that advanced to the CIF State Track and Field Finals earned medals on Saturday at Buchanan High School.

The Quartz Hill High School girls 4×400-meter relay team came away with the highest finish – a fourth-place finish in an event they have dominated all postseason.

Senior Shilah Bedingfield, junior Alonna Johnson and freshmen Iman Babineaux and Janae O’Neal finished with a time of 3 minutes 47.98 seconds, earning them a place on the podium.

“It feels amazing to once again medal,” Bedingfield said while a fireworks show bellowed in the background celebrating the end of the State Finals. “It feels accomplishing. We did all this hard work for seven and a half months straight. So now that we got here to the final day and medaled, it shows how hard work pays off.”

The Paraclete High School boys 4×100-meter relay team earned the second-highest finish. Seniors Zack Nelson, Branden Smith, Bobby Brown II and Allunzoe Jones finished fifth overall with their time of 41.57 seconds.

“I feel extremely blessed to come out here and be able to compete with my friends, my family,” Jones said. “It’s been an honor to compete in two state championships this year and I’m glad we got to make it this far.”

Antelope Valley High School senior Tyrese Dedmon earned a medal with his sixth-overall finish in the triple jump, going a distance of 46 feet, 6inches. Dedmon said felt good winning a medal, but because he’s a competitor, he’s “never really satisfied” unless he wins.

“Medaling at State – my first time ever coming to State – it’s a big accomplishment,” Dedmon said. “It’s acceptable.”

All four Paraclete boys graduated Friday less than two hours after advancing to the State finals. Saturday marked their last athletic competition as Spirits.

“It was really emotional and exciting,” Nelson said. “There’s no better track meet to finish off your high school career with.”

Smith and Jones were members of Paraclete’s football team that won its first state title in school history last fall. Nelson broke the school record in the 300 hurdles at the CIF Divisional Finals two weeks ago.

Brown said what he’ll remember most about competing in athletics at Paraclete is “the people I went through it all with.”

“They really make it worthwhile,” Brown said.

Dedmon will go on to play football at the University of Idaho. He said his experience competing at high levels as a track athlete can translate into his time as a college football player.

“It’s still high school, but making it to the state championship, that’s big,” Dedmon said. “Not everybody makes it. So just being able to compete on these types of stages, that’s huge. It gets you ready to be on a college level and compete in front of thousands and thousands of fans every week.”