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Ripon high jumper Vincent places fifth; closest to state berth
05 TF--SJS Masters pic 5
Sierras Nicholas Valdes makes his final leap in the 300-meter final at Elk Grove High. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO/The Bulletin

ELK GROVE — Less than 24 hours after graduating, Bryan Vincent mustered enough energy to make the best jump of his career in Friday’s Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Championships.

The now-alumnus of Ripon High cleared a 6-foot-5 mark in the high jump, which is believed to be a new school record. Vincent settled for a fifth-place finish in the event and came up short of a berth to the CIF State Championships, but he left the Elk Grove/Laguna Creek Community Stadium with an ear-to-ear grin.

Three other competitors — Brian Graber (Granite Bay), Jose Gonzalez (Modesto) and Kevin Hassani (Whitney) — hit 6-5, but Vincent ends up placing behind all of them for missing more overall attempts.

Only the top three finishers and at-large qualifiers advance to the state meet which takes place June 6-7 at Buchanan High in Clovis.

“It was amazing to end it that way, to get a PR (personal record) and come close to making it to state,” Vincent said. “It was fun.”

Vincent played a big part in his school’s program history. In winning the SJS Division IV/V high jump title last week, he helped Ripon capture a share of its first-ever section championship for track and field.

“That was fun, too,” Vincent said, still grinning.

No area representative came as close to sniffing the medal stand as Vincent on Friday. On Thursday, Sierra senior Onix Paredes took fourth in the pole vault. Other Sierra seniors who made Friday’s finals were Noveleen Thiara (400, eighth, 49.75), Nicholas Valdes (110 hurdles, eighth, 15.34), Josh Spooner (3,200, 17th, 9:51.08) and Jonnythan Munkholm (high jump, no height; triple jump, seventh, 43-09 ½). They were all key members of the Timberwolves’ Valley Oak League and SJS Division IV championship boys team.

For other Masters qualifiers out of the area, getting to compete on Friday itself was a major breakthrough. East Union standout sprinter Jordan McNeal — an SJS Division IV/V champ in the girls 100-meter dash — ended up seventh in 12.52 seconds. The time was well off her personal best, though the runners were jolting through a 1.8 meters-per-second headwind.

McNeal is a three-time qualifier for Masters as a junior, but on Friday she got to compete in the final race for the first time.

“I didn’t do too well but I’m just glad to make it here,” McNeal said. “Last year I didn’t even get the chance to run this race. Now that my season is over I now know what things I have to work on for next year.”

East Union freshman Loretta Kakala competed in the shot put and placed 20th with a throw of 33 feet, 5 ¾ inches. Jessa Johnson (5:32.26) of Sierra and Ripon’s Ellie Waters (5:33.29) — both sophomores, finished 19th and 20th in the 1,600, respectively.

First-year Manteca High head coach Rick Cuevas expects to have a large contingent of returners for next year’s section finale.

Divisional triple jump champion Carl Chandler finished sixth (44-00) Friday, while fellow junior Lechi Nkwocha was 16th (42-00 ¾). Mahir Pepic was 17th in the mile (4:31.03).

The Manteca girls 4x100 team of Sophie Barragan, Regan Both, Jade Griffin and Summer Kirby clocked a 49.41-second time to place eighth. Barragan is a senior, but the other three are sophomores.

“It’s a pretty young team,” Cuevas said. “All year long we had the three sophomores running with a freshman, but we wanted to give the senior a chance to run here so she’s been with them since the VOL meet. I’m looking forward to seeing more of these girls next year. We’ll see what happens, but they have a lot of potential. Last year our girls team didn’t have anyone make it out of divisionals.”