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Sierra, Ripon earn SJS banners
EUs McNeal wins individual titles in girls 100, 4x100
TRACK-SJS Division IV PICS 11 for 5-23
Onix Paredes of Sierra puts on his game face and hustles during the pole vaulting event that he took second in Thursday at Stanislaus State in Turlock. - photo by JOHN-JOEL GRIFFITHS/The Bulletin

TURLOCK — The Sierra boys track team won the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV track and field championship Thursday at Warriors Stadium, but the Timberwolves accomplished the feat without winning a gold medal.

It is the eighth overall section banner garnered by the boys team and sixth in the last nine years. Also earning a championship Thursday was the Ripon boys in Division V.

“We had a lot of depth this year,” Sierra coach Ezequiel Ruiz said. “We had 20 points on the board from field events on Tuesday and that shows you just how deep our varsity boys team is this year.

“Noveleen Thiara scored points in three events today.”

Thiara made up a lot of ground in the boys 400 to take the silver medal (49.70) and was fourth in the 200 (22.34), and along with Onix Parades, Jake Supinger and Jacob Wampler finished second in the 400 relay (43.06). Parades was second in the pole vault (13 feet, 8 inches) and teammate Jojo Macias was fourth (12-11).

Those who finished in the top five will compete in the SJS Masters championships beginning on Thursday, May 29 at Elk Grove High School.

“I knew they were a long ways ahead of me,” Thiara said of the 400. “The last time I broke down in the final 100 meters so coach told me I needed to keep pushing.”

Ripon finished tied with Dixon and Hughson for first place in Division V boys. It’s the first section banner won by the Indians’ track program.

“We are shocked right now,” Ripon coach Jorge Velasco said. “I wish we could have had more kids in the finals but it is a great thing to be section champs, even if it was a three-way tie.”

Bryan Vincent won the high jump on Tuesday to account for 10 of Ripon’s points. Patrick Nelson of Ripon was third in the 300 hurdles (40.45), and for the girls squad Ellie Waters was fourth in the girls 1,600 (5:20.52).

“It was a little hard in the hot weather,” Waters said. “I was behind and I came through on the last lap and I am really excited to be going to Masters.”

East Union junior Jordan McNeal soared to two gold medals Thursday, anchoring the 400-meter relay to a whisker of a win over Manteca. She also won the 100.

“We just wanted to win,” McNeal said “We wanted it so bad and we have talked about it for a few weeks and we just got it done — together.”

Along with Katie Allen, Alyssa Drew and Haley Cook, McNeal edged the Buffaloes quartet of Summer Kirby, Jade Griffin, Sophie Barrigan and Reygan Both by 44.21 seconds to 44.24. Kirby, Both, Raquel Soto and Ariana Avina were third in the 1,600 relay (4:06.15).

McNeal’s win was much more convincing in the 100 with her 12.34 first place soundly defeating Sherlyn Hernandez of Central Valley, who was second (12.55). Both finished fourth (12.71).

“I feel like I had a good start,” McNeal said. “And I just wanted to take first.”

Also qualifying for the Masters meet from East Union is freshman Loretta Kakala, who took fourth (37-04) in the shot put.

Griffin added a second silver to her collection when the Buffaloes sophomore finished second in the 200 (26.06).

 “When I got out of the blocks I thought I had it,” Griffin said. “And then more towards the turn I saw her coming and I realized I had to push.”

Sierra’s Nicholas Valdes finished second in the 300 hurdles (40.12) and third in the 110 hurdles (14.89). Manteca’s Marcus Avilla was fourth in the 300 hurdles (40.78).

“The gun malfunctioned and that tends to mess with my head,” Valdes said of the 110 hurdles. “I came down weird after the first hurdle but I feel good to be going to Masters.”

 In the boys mile, Manteca’s Pepic Mahir had a phenomenal kick to pick up third (4:28.64).

“I just went into it not thinking about it,” Mahir said. “I have just learned that I need to trust my body and not worry about the race so much.”

Haley Silva of Sierra finished third in the 3200 (11:35.30).