They competed for rival high schools, became JUCO teammates and formed an unexpected bond that is on track to last after going their separate ways.
Modesto Junior College track and field standouts Jeida Lavender and Jadyn Snaer signed National Letters of Intent to continue their careers at four-year universities, celebrating the occasion in front of a small group of friend and family Monday at Core209 Manteca.
Part of program-record 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams at Sierra High, Lavender is headed to Sonoma State. Snaer affirmed her commitment to Cal Poly, and she holds East Union records in the 100, 200 and 4x100. Not only have they assured their futures at ideal universities, both are accepting scholarship money and have retained four years of eligibility to run track since their two seasons at MJC were ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic.
“As much as everything kinda stinks right now it worked out pretty decent,” Snaer said. “I'm excited to go and have a real college experience.”
Among those in attendance Monday was Demitrius Snear, the MJC head coach and Jadyn's father. He got to witness their blossoming friendship the past two seasons that have been ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic. Shy and soft-spoken, he said Lavender “brings her out of her shell” and added “they are almost the same person.”
Their paths often crossed during high school meets but they rarely spoke, even as they competed in much of the same races as individual sprinters and in relays.
“We didn't really know each other until we got to MJC,” Jadyn said. “In the first couple days of practice we ended up getting paired up a lot to do workouts … and we became quick friends.”
Unfortunately, they've done much more training together than competing. In 2020, the Pirates competed in two meets, the De Anza Invitational in Cupertino and Cuesta Invitational in San Luis Obispo, before the season was called off because of the spreading COVID-19.
The MJC women's team was primed for big things this season with the likes of Lavender, Snaer and Manteca High alumna Rhiannon Genilla, a volleyball star in high school who was also on the sprint relays.
“Honestly, I've never had a team this good and there's no way I never will again,” Demitrius Snaer said. “We've had some competitive women's teams, but this year we were ranked No. 1 in Northern California and probably 1 or 2 in state.”
Lavender agrees that the Pirates had a special group, not just because of the all-around talent. She lauds the camaraderie, saying that her joining the team “was the best decision I ever made.”
Lavender admits she was uncertain if she would continue running track after high school. It turns out it's her ticket to a degree and career in graphic design. An hour-long chat with Sonoma State coach David Lawrence Jr. was convincing.
“He was saying you can always just try it, or you can not do it and always wonder what would have been and I agreed with that,” Lavender said. “I figured there's no harm in trying. I wasn't sure what school I was going to, but I might as well get some money to go run for a school. It will be cool to get the full, four-year university experience.”
For Snaer, an NCAA Division-I track scholarship has been a goal since her time at East Union. She was drawn by natural beauty of the area during her visit and sees herself as a good fit for the track program. She'll major in political science and likely minor in sociology.
Jadyn is proud to follow in the footsteps of her dad — Demitrius also holds records at East Union, and he went on to enjoy successful careers at Delta College and Fresno State where is has been inducted into the Hall of Fame.
“It's nice to go into college knowing that track is going to take care of me in the same way it gave my dad opportunities,” she said.