This is where it gets tough in the track and field world, with each week a step closer to the state championships, but each meet a more difficult magnitude.
A few Los Banos and Pacheco high school athletes were still alive in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 4/5 track and field championships on Thursday in Turlock. Results were unavailable at press time.
During Tuesday’s preliminaries, Pacheco’s Mark Joseph qualified for the finals by finishing in the top eight in two events – he placed fifth in the boys 400-meter run at 50.94 seconds, and also qualified in the 4x400 relay along with teammates Adam Perez, Maurice Harden and Miguel Cintora III. The team clocked a 3:28.47 run.
“He was extremely focused. All four of them were,” Pacheco coach Laura Barger said. “He knew he had a few more things on the line, individually.”
Also qualifying for the finals was Los Banos High’s Ifunanya “Osi” Okekge, who placed eighth in the girls 300 hurdles at 50.70 seconds. Teammate Kirsten Robertson was 15th at 55.06. The top five finishers in each event qualify for the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters meet.
“She ran the 4x100 earlier and finished with 4x400, so she had a lot of things on her plate. She’ll probably be more focused on Thursday,” Los Banos coach Ernest Willhite said. “To get in the top five, she’s going to have to run 49, 48, somewhere in there. The whole field is running 49s and 50s. If she gets out of the blocks well, gets a good night’s rest, she’ll be in the mix.”
A few other athletes were competing Thursday in events that had prelims and finals the same day – Los Banos’ Melissa Fregoso in the 1,600-meters, Robertson in the long jump, and Pacheco’s Aaron Jaime in the pole vault.
“That’s going to be a tough one for her, it’s a really tough field,” Willhite said about Fregoso. “But like you say, you’ve got to go run and you never know what happens. She’s been taking seconds off. Kirsten, if she gets out to 15 or 16 feet, she has a good shot, too. She’s gotten out to 15-6 or something like that, so she has a shot.”
A couple of athletes that made noise in the preliminaries, but fell short of qualifying for the finals were Los Banos’ Nick Adams in the triple jump and Pacheco’s Paris Hernandez in the discus. Both hit personal records – Adams at 40 feet, 101/2 inches and Hernandez at 82 feet. Adams placed 11th.
“But he was happy, because he did really well,” Willhite said, “and he has an idea that if he comes back next year and works on that triple, he’ll have a shot to move on to masters or even state.”
Hernandez went as an alternate after placing fourth at the Western Athletic Conference tournament, and was called upon when one of the WAC athletes pulled out of the discus. She bested that distance by 11 inches.
“It was bittersweet because she didn’t qualify for the final eight,” Barger said. “It was good, but not good.”