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ONLY THE STRONG

First-year thrower enjoyed rapid rise before enduring heartbreaking finish

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ONLY THE STRONG

Bret Wilson is the Manteca Bulletin’s 2012 All-Area Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin


POSTED July 9, 2012 1:39 a.m.

Bret Wilson’s first and only season on the Sierra High track and field team started promising but ended in heartbreak.

All in all, it was an impressive run for the throwing specialist. Wilson is the Manteca Bulletin’s All-Area Male Athlete of the Year for the sport.

“It was all brand new to me,” said Wilson, a lifelong baseball player who was convinced by football and basketball teammate Will Ward to give track a shot his senior year. “It’s a totally different atmosphere, a lot more laid back than other sports. You make a lot of friends on the team. It was just an awesome experience.”

Wilson started out competing in the long jump, high jump, discus throw and shot put but had to drop the long because of a groin injury. He was still the team’s high-point contributor with the three events.

With his natural strength and coordination, the throwing events were a good fit for Wilson. It was just a matter of getting the technique down, and in that area he was a quick study.

Wilson won the Valley Oak League shot put title with a toss of 49 feet, 5 ½ inches, but it was ultimately the discus that had him on the cusp of qualifying for the California Interscholastic Federation State Championships. He advanced to the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters meet in both events.

In the league meet, Wilson finished third in the discus behind runner-up Elijah Surall of Manteca and Oakdale sophomore Kyle Peterson. His mark of 142-5 was 4 ½ feet shy of his personal record.

Wilson was just warming up.

“My goal at the beginning of the season was to break the school record (of 167-11 set by Troy Wheeler),” Wilson said. “I wasn’t sure how far I could get but I knew it would take time. I was surprised with how well I was doing in a short time. As the season went on I realized that I could make it to state, so that became the goal.”

Wilson set a personal-best mark of 50-4 ¼ in the shot put for a fourth-place finish in the SJS Division IV-V meet. In the discus, he was moments away of earning a divisional title after shattering his PR with a 163-5 heave.

But Peterson, his league nemesis, got the better of him on his final attempt that yielded a 167-9 measurement that was a PR for him.

Wilson shrugged that one off. A divisional title would have been nice, but an improvement of over 16 feet was a great consolation prize. An even greater prize was now within reach.

The following week at Elk Grove High, Wilson experienced one of the more exhilarating moments of his athletic career, only to have it flushed away by one of his most disappointing.

Wilson reached the final round and topped out at 165-1, placing him in third place. Only the top three competitors or those who hit the minimum at-large standard of 168-11 advance to state.

Wilson would again be thwarted by the last throw of another competitor. This time, it hurt.

Curtis Bleasdale of Vacaville bumped him out of the running with a hurl of 167-6.

“(Losing the Division IV-V title) I shook off pretty well because I knew I was moving on and had a chance to do better the following week, but coming in fourth at Masters was crushing,” Wilson said. “Everybody was saying how I did well for my first year, but I set some high expectations for myself.

“It’s just tough. Once you run out of attempts, you can’t do anything about it. You just wait and hope that someone after you doesn’t do better.”

It was a bitter end to a short, albeit successful, track and field career.

Then again it might not be the end for Wilson, who is bound for Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He believes there are some big throws still left in him.

“(Sierra coach Nate) Diamantine talked with their throws coach, who said that I should contact him over the summer,” Wilson said. “I plan to walk on and hope to turn it into a scholarship by my second year.”

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