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Sierra boys clinch fourth D-III title in six years

Five area individuals, 4x100 team earn first-place medals

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Sierra boys clinch fourth D-III title in six years

Members of Sierra High's boys track and field team pose for pictures along with girls champion Antelope after claiming the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III title at Modesto Junior College Thursday.

JONAMAR JACINTO/The Bulletin


POSTED May 21, 2010 3:16 a.m.
MODESTO — Anthony Chapman’s words in February were prophetic.

“I told our 4x400 team at the beginning of the season that there’s a chance that it could come down to them for a section championship,” the Sierra High track and field head coach said. “I don’t prefer it that way, but that’s how it happened.”

With Placer on Sierra’s heels in the point standings and its mile relay team favored to win the final event of the evening at Modesto Junior College Thursday, the Timberwolves’ quartet, seeded seventh going in, needed to finish no worse than fourth to hold onto its lead and claim the program’s fourth Sac-Joaquin Section Division III boys title in six years.

A fifth-place finish would have made it a shared championship. Anything worse would have been a heartbreaker.

The team’s anchor, Ruben Lopez, was handed the baton with the team in third. Cosumnes Oaks overtook Sierra for the third spot by the final turn, but Lopez was able to hold off Oakdale to secure Sierra’s sixth overall banner. Jonathon Scherry, Wesley Henschel and Richard Lopez made up the rest of Sierra’s mile relay team, which clocked in at 3 minutes, 30.18 seconds.

“I knew that I had to hold it, but I also knew that I had some leeway,” Lopez said. “I set my mind to that, and coming down the stretch I just wanted to bring it home for the team. It’s not just the 4x400 that won it; it was everyone who won it.”

That was certainly the case. In the first track event of the day, the 4x100 relay team (Stephen Thayer, Kolton Cody, Harold Wright, Udoka Uwakwe) won the first track event of the day in 43.57 seconds — one hundredth of a second faster than Antelope.

Also providing first-place points for Sierra was Ulysses Knapps, who set a new personal best mark in the long jump at 22 feet, 6 ½ inches and was a half inch shy of tying the meet record. He took second in the event last year as a sophomore.

The top six finishers in each event qualified for next week’s Masters Meet set for May 27 and 28 at Sacramento City College’s Hughes Stadium.

“We scored in the triple jump, the long jump, the 4x100, the 1,600, the 400, 100, 200, 800, 3,200 and 4x400,” Chapman said. “I’d say it was a team effort.”

East Union’s girls team also has reason to celebrate, as it finished fifth. Megan Jordan became the second East Union underclassmen to win an event at divisionals this week.

On Tuesday, sophomore Jerrica Hauck won the girls pole vault at 10 feet even. On that same day, Jordan, a freshman, earned the top-seeded time going into Thursday’s final race in the 400-meter dash and won in 59.74 for a new personal record.

As she crossed the finish line, she glanced to her left for a peak at her time and immediately smiled. Her mom, Tracy Jordan, also ran track for East Union where she graduated in 1987, and she gave her all the motivation she needed.

“I’ve been trying all year to beat her time, and she ran a 59,” Megan Jordan said. “I’ve been stuck at 60 seconds for some time, and finally I got it. I worked so hard for it.”

Vincent Herrera’s motivation was the competition. The Manteca High senior knew what he was up against in the mile having previously raced against Valley Oak League rivals John Bowers of Sierra, and Daniel Martz of East Union along with Placer’s Lucas Stancliff and Clay Campbell.

Bowers set the pace early on, and Stancliff took the lead on the final lap and held it until the final 100 meters.

After the turn, Herrera blasted by Stancliff and kicked his way to a first-place time of 4:26.23. Herrera is the first Manteca 1,600 runner to win the event at a section meet.

“Last time (Stancliff) beat me (during an invitational), so I had the thought of coming back and beating him,” Herrera said. “My plan was that if I wasn’t going to catch him in the first lap, I was going to catch him later.”

East Union’s Hector Solario was the last area athlete to win an event, doing so in the 300 hurdles in 40.28 — a race that he wasn’t favored to win. The favorite was standout senior Angell Mayfield, who is the first track athlete in Weston Ranch history to win an event at a divisional meet after claiming the 110-hurdles title last year.

He went on to qualify for the California Interscholastic Federation Track and Field Championships and became just the third Manteca Unified student to place at that meet, finishing third.

But he won’t have a chance to better his 2009 finish. He was disqualified before approaching the starting blocks in the 110 hurdles for wearing a wrist band, and things didn’t get any better in the 300.

Mayfield narrowly won in the 300 but was DQ’d because his lead leg whipped over Solario’s final hurdle.
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