Manteca High’s track and field team received a big boost from two transfers in a Valley Oak League dual meet against visiting rival Sierra on Thursday.
The arrival of Kenny Wooten and Loretta Kakala comes just in time for the Buffaloes, who have tough matchups ahead in the next two weeks. Wooten, a startling 6-foot-8 athlete who transferred from Stagg, won four events in his first meet and helped Manteca topple the Timberwolves, 88-48. Kakala, a Sac-Joaquin Section Masters qualifier for East Union last season, took first in both the shot put and discus as the Manteca girls won, 72-61. Both athletes had been ineligible due to CIF transfer rules.
“Having them on the team helps big time,” Manteca coach Rick Cuevas said. “Loretta, of course, made it to Masters as a freshman and we expect big things from her. Kenny is going to be scary once he learns how to do things properly. He’s just learning how to triple jump and he ran the 200 without blocks.”
Wooten won the 200-meter dash along with the three jumps. The Buffaloes now have an impressive three-man wrecking crew in the jump pits, as Wooten joins veterans Lechi Nkwocha and Carl Chandler, who set a personal record in the triple jump in taking second on Thursday. Chandler also won the 100 and was on the winning 4x100 and 4x400 relays.
Mahir Pepic dominated the distance events (800, mile, two-mile) and joined Chandler on the mile relay. Juan Gomez earned first-place points in the 400, 300 hurdles and 4x100 and was third in the 110 hurdles.
“That’s 48.5 points from those three alone,” Cuevas said, referencing Wooten, Pepic and Gomez.
Jade Griffin and Raygan Both did their usual damage in the sprints for Manteca’s girls. They went 1-2 in the 100 and 200 and contributed to the relay teams’ wins. Both was added to the 400 and she won that event.
Trinity Basuil took first in the 100 and 300 hurdle events. Arianna Avina won the 1,600 and was the runner-up in the 800.
Both of Manteca’s varsity squads are 4-0 with three league meets to go. Their biggest tests will come from the Oakdale girls and Kimball boys, who are also undefeated. The Buffaloes first head to Oakdale next Tuesday.
“For the boys we take it one meet at a time and have them doing different events based on who we are running against,” Cuevas said. “We have been taking it easy up until this point but next week we’re going to train pretty hard for Kimball. I think that’s going to be a great meet.
“Kimball’s girls have lost to Oakdale and Sierra but we’re not taking them lightly. We’ll see what are girls can do against Oakdale; they have a very strong team this year.”