State competitors and valley champions get early competition in during at Golden West on Saturday, March 17
By Patrick Dillon @PDillon_SGN
VISALIA – Ten schools gathered at Groppetti Community Stadium on the campus of Golden West for the Larry Lung Invitational last Saturday. While Monache took both the men’s and women’s competitions by scores of 272.5 and 239, respectfully, host Golden West and Lindsay both had second place finishes.
Considered one of the youngest teams in the field the Blazers girls’ team took second with a score of 199 points. One of their top finishers was Serina Oceguera. She won the 100 meters with a time of 13.70 seconds which was more than a tenth of a second faster than the second place finisher. Also part of the 4X100 relay she ran the second leg and finished second with a time of 52.68 seconds.
“Each and every outing she has been getting better,” Golden West head coach George Steward. “Right now she is probably number three in the WYL, but I see her getting a little bit better.”
Another up and coming runner for the Blazers is Sabrina Hagen who clocked a season record in the 1,600-meter of 6:15.04 minutes. While it put her in tenth place overall she still won the first heat.
Usually a middle of the pack runner Hagen jumped out to a substantial lead right from the start. As the laps went on the gap between her and the field continued to grow. By the end of the first lap it was only a five-second lead, but by the finish she had a 22-second lead over the field.
“It was a change because usually I am trying to catch up to the other runners, but I could still hear them behind me,” Hagen said.
The Cardinals have their sprinters to thank for their second place finish of 222 points. Although they only won one event they were consistently in the top five.
In the 400-meter Manuel Torres, considered one of the best sprinter on the team, won with a time of 53.06 seconds. A clean start from the starting blocks helped him get into third place on the back stretch. By the time he rounded the final turn to the last 100 meters he had already taken the lead. Ruben Gomez finished in second place at 53.44 seconds.
“This race showed what I have been doing and all the hard work I have been putting in,” Torres said.
Another strong sprinter for the Cardinals is Richie Hernandez. Competing in the 100-meter he finished in fourth place at 11.92 seconds. A stutter step at the start made him lose some ground.
While the Blazers boys’ team might have been wanting a better finish than a 158-point fourth place it still held some positive notes. Both of their state championship competitors from last season, Zach Glick and Ian Kelly, both notched wins.
Glick swept all three jumping events he was entered in. His third event the high jump was his best outcome as he broke his own record when he made 6 feet, 6 inches. He tried for two inches higher but failed on both of his attempts.
In Glick’s first event, the triple jump, he went 44 feet, 2.5 inches, a season record. A great distance considering he twisted his ankle on his first attempt. He followed it up with a win at the long jump by reaching a distance of 22 feet, 1.5 inches.
“Zach is progressing really well so far this season,” Steward said.
Kelly on the other hand is still trying to get his first times recorded in this early season. Last Saturday was the first time he had ran the 110-meter high hurdles. He had been sidelined after having had meniscus surgery on his right knee six weeks ago.
He was put in the first flight due to the fact he did not have a time. Although, he was in unfamiliar surroundings, having competed for a state championship in the event, he clocked a 16.16 seconds. Right out of the blocks Kelly looked strong. He failed to hit any of the hurdles, but the last couple there was some noticeable laboring.
“It felt good getting back on the track,” Kelly said. “Right now I am just trying to work through the kinks and get better each day.”
For the Lindsay girls’ team, who finished in sixth place with 146 points distance runner McKaylie Caesar got both of their wins. In the 1,600-meter she clocked a personal record of 5:21.33 minutes. Her first lap of 1:11 was a little fast for her to make the 5:15 goal she had set for herself. She followed with a 2:23.17 season record in the 800 meters.