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Sierra qualifies three athletes to next weeks Masters meet
Manteca High sprinter Julianna Flores, right, keeps pace with Patterson’s Ashlee Jones and Colfax’s Jaymee Kirby in the 200-meter dash. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO
Taylor-Renae Wilson jumped straight up and buried her face into her hands while landing in a crouched position.

Cristina Westover sobbed uncontrollably inside the embrace of teammate Mahlynn Liotard.

And Ulysses Knapps banged his palms together while yelling, “That’s what I’m talking about!” to cheering coaches and teammates in the crowd.

It was that kind of day for Sierra High’s track program during Tuesday’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division III Trials at Modesto Junior College.

The three Timberwolves set personal records in their field events and advanced to next week’s Masters meet. The top six placers in each field event Tuesday qualified.

The rest of the field events along with the track finals will take place Thursday back at MJC. The three heat winners and next six best finishers from Tuesday’s trials advance to the second day.

 Wilson was the first move on, though she was minutes away from not having the chance.

She returned to the long jump pit fresh off her heat in the 400-meter dash, and she stood, hands resting on knees while still gasping for oxygen, in front of the official as he announced the finalists for the event.

Wilson notified the official that she had not yet taken her jumps, and her first one, which measured out at 15 feet, 8 inches, was plenty good enough to get her into the finals.

She opted not to pass on her final two preliminary attempts, and on her second she popped a new personal record of 17-2 that instantly made her a contender for the long jump title.

Her best jump, however, was bested by El Dorado’s Cora Harms by a half inch in the finals, but she gladly settled for a second-place finish that helps put the Timberwolves in position to compete for the divisional championship.

“When I looked down (the runway), I just thought about my teammates,” Wilson said. “I was so tired going into my first couple of jumps, but I had to push through it — my mind is stronger than my body.

“I don’t mind losing by a half inch at all, because I just did it for my team.”

Wilson came into the day seeded second to Ripon Christian freshman Essence White. Wilson’s previous PR of 16-3 was set at the Valley Oak League Championships on May 9.

White, whose school doesn’t have a track program, was the favorite after winning the Trans Valley League title at 16-10, ranking herself among the section’s elite.

But she topped out 14-11.75 for 13th place after scratching her first attempt Tuesday. White, who hones her skills with the Tracy-based Northwest Express track and field program, said that her lifetime best in the event is 17-4.

“I’m a little disappointed,” she said. “My steps were off, I guess. I was expecting to hit 17.”

Westover broke her own school record in the shot put Tuesday, taking third at 36-6. Her old record was set at 35-6.25 in last year’s VOL meet, surpassing the previous best that stood for nine years.

Westover hit her new PR on her second try in the finals, and she was understandably emotional after struggling all season to consistently stay hit the 35-foot range. She will return to the Masters meet after placing sixth at divisional last season, and she will compete again in the discus throw on Thursday.

“This whole season I’ve been really pushing myself so hard but not really getting it to go as far as I want to,” Westover said. “It’s always mental barriers that I have to break, and today I think I tore down one.”

Knapps, like his teammates, had his own barrier — the 20-foot mark — to bust through, and he finally did so Tuesday. The promising sophomore’s preliminary leap of 21-5 was good for third place after coming in seeded 13th.

“It was just incredible that I did that. I’ve been telling myself that I can do it, but to actually do it is an amazing feeling.”

East Union’s Stevyn Teeple also advanced to the finals but scratched on his final two jumps. His eighth-place mark of 20-11.50 was a mere half inch shy of the sixth and final qualifying measurement.

The girls pole vault and discus and the boys high jump and triple jump start at 3 p.m. Thursday; and the boys shot put and girls triple jump begin at 5 p.m. The track finals, which include all divisional qualifiers in the 1,600 and 3,200, will begin with the 4x100 girls relay at 6 p.m.

Qualifying for Thursday’s track finals were:

• Manteca—Julianna Flores (sixth, 100; seventh, 200).

• Sierra — Shanedra Pitts (fourth, 100), Courtney Whitlock (fifth, 100 hurdles; fourth, 300 hurdles), girls 4x100 relay (second), girls 4x400 relay (fifth), Michael Garcia (ninth, 300 hurdles), boys 4x400 relay (sixth).

• Ripon — girls 4x100 relay (ninth), Eddie Martin (eighth, 100; eighth, 200), boys 4x100 relay (fifth).

• Weston Ranch—Angell Mayfield (second, 110 hurdles), boys 4x100 relay (fourth).