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Sierra students put themselves to the test

“Dig, Manny, dig!” was the chant that schoolmates implored Manny Aguilar to do.

And dig Aguilar did.

Aguilar was giving it all he had in the Timberwolves’ parking lot on his third set of cleans using a 135-pound barbell.

As schoolmates urged him on Aguilar let the barbell drop to the ground after his 30th clean of the day and then hit a weighted sled to drive it 30 yards before running back to the start when he then used a rope to pull the sled back.

It was one of three tests that 30 Sierra High students took on Saturday in a bid to determine who Sierra High’s Fittest on Campus were for 2019.

And if you think it was only sports athletes putting themselves to the test, guess again. It was a 50-50 mixture of sports players and those who are simply physical education students at Sierra High.

PE teacher Richard Boyd, who helped organize the sixth annual Fittest on Campus competition is part of a physical education staff that has been so successful at getting teens into physical fitness and health that guidance counselors have to tell some college-bound students that they can’t take the popular body tone classes for girls and body conditioning classes for boys either their junior or senior year if they want to work in all of the college prerequisites they need.

How PE because a big thing to teens who don’t play sports is a testament not just to the Sierra PE department but also to the administration and faculty as a whole that understands the valuable role that fitness and nutrition plays in shaping the life of young people as well as helping make them sharper mentally in academics as well.

“We want kids to learn how nutrition and fitness is important to life-long health,” Boyd said.

They explain various nutritional programs and then wed them with exercise regimens. Those principles are then applied in body toning and body conditioning classes where speed and strength training is used as the cornerstone for building fitness.

As a result the nutrition component — or "clean eating" — resonates with teens. Ask and they will tell you they've cut back on processed food, sugars, complex starches, and calories as a whole. It's enough to send shivers down the spines of McDonald’s executives.

That’s because not only do they see the results of their efforts when it comes to nutrition and workouts in the form of measurable gains in strength, endurance, and speed but also in body tone.

The Sierra program — built partially on the Cross-Fit philosophy — eschews machines in favor of free weights and the use of one’s own body for resistance

Every student has their version as a success story of how they’ve gotten faster, stronger, more toned, more alert and sharper as well as feeling better about themselves. But there are also major transformations. One Boyd said that comes to mind was a freshman who was chubby. slow and not too focused who within three years became dominating enough in football to garner All Valley Oak League honors.

And while the annual Fittest on Campus competition is icing on their efforts, it isn’t the pinnacle of the Sierra High PE program. Teens that have taken the PE classes at Sierra High credited it with improving their grades, making them healthier, boosting their self-esteem, and helping them do better in class. As far as athletes go, they say it has made them stronger than if they had relied simply on machines.

That encouragement Aguilar — and others got — on Saturday is what all students get when they step into Sierra High body toning or body conditioning classes. The program’s format requires students to work together effectively eliminating taunting and building an esprit de corps.

Physical education is mandatory the first two years in high school for Manteca Unified students. But due to the success of the Sierra program students want to take PE all four years.

There were three events on Saturday. The first consisted of four tests — an 800 meter run, a medicine ball toss for distance, 400 yard dash, and a vertical jump.

The second event was bench pressing — 135 pounds for boys and 65 pounds for girls — for maximum repetitions.

The third event involved the cleans — floor to front rack with open hips using 135 pounds for boys and 65 pounds for girls — plus the weighted sleds and running. It consisted of three rounds — 15 cleans, 9 cleans, and 6 cleans — followed each time by a 30-yard sled drive, running back to the start, and then a 30-yard rope sled pull.

Miranda Miller won the girls’ division followed by Jessica Guzman, and Alyssa Arredondo.

The varsity boys’ winner was Holden Fishburn followed by Slyder Blyth and Josh Faustin. Blyth the day before threw 111 pitches in the Timberwolves’ baseball game against East Union High.

Zach Fonseca topped the boys’ junior varsity competition followed by Aydan Horn.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email