Five athletes from Manteca will try to accomplish a rare feat in the California Interscholastic Federation State Track and Field Championships at Buchanan High’s Veterans Memorial Stadium in Clovis Friday and, should they make it, Saturday.
In the previous 92 years of the meet’s existence, only three representatives of Manteca Unified schools are known to have stepped foot on the awards podium where the top six finishers in each event are presented medals and recognized.
Josh Rodie of Manteca High did it in 1998, placing fifth in the mile. Star sprinter Carl Crawford of East Union took second in the 200-meter dash and fourth in the 100 in 2004. And in 2009, Weston Ranch’s Angell Mayfield was sixth in the 110 hurdles.
Hoping to join them are Manteca High hurdler Paul Lyons and Sierra’s 4x100 team made up of Kolton Cody, Ulysses Knapps, Stephen Thayer and Harold Wright — all recent graduates.
Lyons is the first area athlete to qualify for state in two events since Sierra’s Derek Sinclair did so in the shot put and discus throw in 2008.
Lyons is seeded 19th in the 110 and 300 hurdles, posting times of 14.50 and a personal-best 38.98, respectively, in last Friday’s Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Finals at Sacramento City College.
“I’m just honored to be able to put Manteca High on the map for track, and I’m excited that I get to go to state,” he said during the SJS Masters.
But Lyons isn’t going into the state meet taking the “happy to be here” approach, believing that he hasn’t run his best race yet.
Expected to win the 110 in Masters, he had trouble clearing most hurdles with his trail leg and still ended up in second place with a respectable time. In the 300, he made a valiant charge down the final straightaway, moving from fifth place up to third for the final berth for state.
Going into Masters, Lyons’ personal record in the 110 (14.35) was the second fastest recorded in the state this year. It now stands at 10th best, and he knows he’ll have to improve that to get to Saturday’s finals.
“I was a little antsy and not really focused on the fundamentals, just more so on trying to win,” Lyons said after running the 110 hurdles at Masters. “I need to think about my form and my technique and let the rest follow.”
Jonathan Cabral of Agoura is favored to win both hurdling events. The defending state champion in the 110, he won the Southern Section title with an impressive 13.27 time, which would be a new national record had it been wind legal.
Sierra’s 400-meter relay checks in as the eighth seed out of 25.
In the Masters finale, the Cody anchored the team’s second-place finish with a season best time of 41.97 — the 15th fastest in the state. Roosevelt of the Southern Section is seeded No. 1 with a 41.16.
“That was a huge confidence booster,” Cody said. “We’re going to state with our heads held high.”
The Timberwolves have been battling through injuries in the last few weeks. Knapps, who has been phenomenal as their third leg, is nursing a sore ankle, Cody has been running on a pulled hamstring and Thayer has a sore back from a car accident just two days before the Masters meet.
“I’m just fortunate to have three amazing athletes on my team,” Wright said. “We’ve been through it all, from pulled hamstring, hurt ankle, hurt back — everything. We just pulled through at the end, and now we have one more (race) to go.”