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Seniors take over Sierra High track

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Seniors take over Sierra High track

Runners Dan Weiser, 51, of Sacramento, right, congratulates fellow competitor Jim Bordoni, 56, of Napa on his first place finish in the men's 800m at the Manteca Senior Games track and field compet...

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

POSTED April 30, 2009 2:43 a.m.
Don Cheek had a lot to look back on and smile as he leaned back and relaxed on the infield of Daniel Teicheira Memorial Stadium Wednesday afternoon.

At 79 years old, Cheek looks like what most men would kill to see in the mirror – slender and strong and with an air of reserved confidence making him as approachable as he is unavoidable.

And it doesn’t hurt that he was at one time the fastest man in the world when he was 45 years old.

“I’m out here because of the joy this brings me,” Cheek said of the first ever Manteca Senior Games that welcomed athletes from throughout the region on an unusually perfect Wednesday afternoon. “Being out here you have an uncomplicated view of the world – it’s just you and who you’re running against and you don’t get that in very many other sports.”

Organized by the Manteca Convention and Visitors Bureau, Wednesday’s Track and Field event didn’t draw the numbers that other major meets might boast, but it also didn’t disappoint those who turned out for a beautiful afternoon around the track.

And some of those had shared the track with a few famous runners throughout their career.

Despite being an avid runner during his younger days at San Jose State where he’d cross paths with greats like Tommie Smith – who forever immortalized the civil rights movement by raising his right hand on the podium in Mexico City after earning his gold medal – Matt Pruitt, now 63, didn’t think about getting back into full stride until his late 30’s.

His age didn’t stop him from getting not only a good stretch in but also didn’t stop him from registering a respectable time in the 400-meters.

Several people on the infield that were noticeably younger mentioned that they couldn’t have even come close to crossing the finish line that fast.

“It’s very exciting to see these guys out here doing what they love and showing the younger runners that with dedication and heart you never have to give up your dream,” said Sierra head track coach Anthony Chapman. “We’d love to be able to grow this event every year into something larger and get even more people in the community to come out and see exactly how hard these athletes work to get here.”
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