Yosemite High School distance runner Brittney Hughey was the highest Badger finishers at the May 18 Central Section Masters Championships at Fresno's Buchanan High School, placing eighth in the 1,600 meter run. She was ranked No. 11 going into the race.
The junior, who swept all three distance races (800, 1,600 and 3,200) at the May 1 North Sequoia League Meet on her home track, qualified for the Masters with a second place finish in the 1600 at the May 8 Sierra-Sequoia small school meet in Exeter.
The Masters Championship includes the best track and field athletes from all divisions in the Central Section.
Even thought Hughey improved her 1,600 time from 6:30 in March to her personal best of 5:21.46, she was disappointed with eight place at the biggest track meet in Central California, with top finishers advancing to the CIF State Championships May 31 and June 1.
"Although I was nervous at the start of the race, I feel I could have done a lot better," Hughey said.
Hughey got off to a slow start and found herself at the back of the pack after the first of the four-lap race.
She picked-up the pace and passed four runners in the second lap and another four in lap three and two more on the finale lap.
"I caught a lot or runners but just didn't start soon enough -- that was my downfall -- I still had a lot of energy at the end of the race," Hughey said.
Exeter's Yesenia Silva won the event in 4:57.33.
The 5-foot-4, 102 pound Hughey already has her sights set on next year's state meet and has a goal of running the 1,600 under five minutes. She plans to train hard all summer and run cross country in the fall, a sport she did not compete in this year.
"I really want to go to state next year," Hughey said. "I know I can do it."
"To place eighth at that level shows how good Brittney is" coach Walker Vaughn said. "At this meet, everyone is good and our athletes all performed well on the big stage."
Junior Alek Simpson, who won the 1,600 and 3,200 at the NSL meet ran the 1,600 at Masters, finishing in the top 12. Blake Haney of Bakersfield's Stockdale won the event in 4:07.16.
"Alek had an outstanding season considering he had to overcome some nagging minor injuries" Vaughn said. "Alek has a great attitude and works hard. He ran a good race against some of the best runners in Central California and gained additional experience that will serve him well next year."
Sophomore Taylor Burrall went 5-1 in the high jump and tied for sixth with Kacy Falk of Sierra who also jumped 5-1. Three other girls jumped 5-1 and the places were decided on the number of 'misses' during the event. Burrall's best jump of the year was 5-2. Asia Chesley of Stockdale was one of four girls who jumped 5-7 and won the event with the least misses.
Vaughn said Burrall went to the Masters last year and struggled a little as a freshman at the highly competitive meet.
"This year Taylor felt more comfortable amongst the valley's elite track and field athletes -- and her abilities is now right there with them."
Junior 400 meter runner Nick Adelizi, who won the 200 and 400 at the NSL meet, was the fourth member of the Badger track team to participate in the Masters and finished near the middle of the standings. Joe Herrera of Western High ran 48.63 to win the event.
"All four of our Yosemite athletes have been very competitive all season long and performed well at the Masters," Vaughn said. "I couldn't be happier -- they all did great."
The boys team won the NSL title this season for the second consecutive year and the girls team finished third. Between the two teams, Badger track & field teams have won 11 of the last 13 NSL league titles.
Looking to next year Vaughn said the expectations are the same as they have been every year -- for the boys and girls teams to win the league title.