Thirteen high school athletes from Los Banos and Pacheco are moving on to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 4/5 meet next week after placing in the top three at the Western Athletic Conference meet on Saturday.
The WAC sends the top three finishers in each event on to the divisional meet.
Los Banos is sending seven athletes: Keiloni Smith, Brittney Berek, Melissa Fregoso, Ifunanya Okekge, Nicole Berek, Kirsten Robertson and Nick Adams. Pacheco will send six: Mark Joseph, Adam Perez, Maurice Harden, Miguel Cintora, Aaron Jaime and Venus Canaveral.
Pacheco’s team of Perez, Joseph, Harden and Cintora won the 4x400 relay race at the WAC meet at 3 minutes, 35.69 seconds for the only event win between Los Banos and Pacheco. The same team placed third in the 4x100 race.
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“They’re out there working all the time. They know they need to work on certain parts, and they get to it,” Pacheco coach Laura Barge said. “There’s two that are determined to go to college and run, and they’re trying to make sure the other two are on it. It’s a little contagious.”
Pacheco’s Mark Joseph and Los Banos’ Keiloni Smith will be busy at the D4 meet, with four events each – Joseph in the 200, 400 and both relays, and Smith in the 100, 200 and both relays. Meanwhile, Los Banos sisters Brittney Berek and Nicole Berek will run both relays, and Brittney will throw in a 400-meter run for good measure.
“I think it’s a giant reward for them to finish up. Nicole and Brittney are seniors, so they’re going out strong,” Los Banos coach Ernest Willhite said. “Especially with colleges, the more you can put on your college application, the better off you are. They’re not just looking for academics anymore, they want to see other things where you stuck it out to the end.”
In addition to running, a couple of Pacheco athletes advanced based on skill in pole vaulters Jaime and Canaveral.
“Monday they were both out there, and yesterday they in weight room working on their timing,” Barger said on Wednesday. “You have to make sure you have perfect timing. You rock back. Once you bend your pole, basically the pole does the rest of the work. So they’re getting the timing down right now.”
Other field qualifiers include Los Banos’ Adams in the triple jump and Kirsten Robertson in the long jump.
Update: Pacheco's Paris Hernandez, who placed fourth in the discus with a throw of 79 feet, 1 inch, will compete after one of the top three athletes pulled out of the competition, according to Barger, bringing the total number LB-area athletes at the D4/5 meet to 14. Fourth-place league finishers earn alternate status and will be called upon if anyone pulls out of an event.