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Up and running
East Union parent starts first track club in Manteca
Lancer Youth Track and Field Club coach Michael Heinze, left, helps Jordan McNeal through an exercise with hurdles during the teams first practice at Dino Cunial Field Tuesday. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO

Two things influenced Terri Hauck’s decision to start the Lancer Youth Track and Field Club — the first of its kind in Manteca.

The first was travel expenses.

Her daughter, Jerrica, is a standout pole vaulter for East Union High’s track team. Last summer she joined the Lodi Track Club.

“I just got tired of driving her everywhere, so for me it started out as a selfish thing,” Terri Hauck said.

It wasn’t until she attended one of the local middle school track meets put on by Manteca Unified Student Trust that she truly realized there was a gaping hole in town.

With clubs, programs and organizations available for most other sports in Manteca, she found it puzzling that there hasn’t been one set up for track yet.

“The more (she and husband Kurtis) got involved in track with (Jerrica) the more we realized how much there needs to be a track club,” Hauck said. “Everybody we’ve talked to that does track say they travel outside of Manteca. “The last thing that pushed me over was watching all the kids running at the MUST meet. That’s when I said, ‘There are a lot of kids running in that meet, and we need a track club here.’

The club held its first practice Tuesday at East Union. Practices are from 6:30-8:30 on Tuesday and Thursday nights.

Hauck makes it clear that despite the club’s name, it’s open to anyone and everyone, no matter what school they are affiliated with and what their ages are.

The bulk of its membership will be youth ranging in ages 10-17, but adults are welcomed to join and compete in the 18-35 open and 35-over masters divisions.

The cost for youth to sign up is $40 and $50 for adults, which covers a USA Track and Field membership and club t-shirt.

“It’s open to the public, and it’s an affordable alternative to other sports,” Hauck said.

East Union assistant coaches Michael Heinze and Michelle Sopolinga orchestrated the club’s first practice on Tuesday.

Other notable volunteer coaches who will be involved in future practices include Sierra High assistant Justin Miller and Modesto Junior College track and field head coach Demetrius Snear, an East Union graduate. Miller is Humboldt State’s record holder in the pole vault and a Sierra alumnus.

“Manteca has turned out some pretty good track athletes without having a club like this,” Snear said. “If you look at the bigger cities and see how their kids have grown as track athletes, it’s because they’re taught the fundamentals at an earlier age. Most of the track athletes in Manteca don’t start until high school.

“Imagine if some of these kids have had a track club. We already have some talented track athletes, but there is so much room for improvement.”

Hauck said the club will initially compete in two meets as a whole this summer, one being the Region 14 Track and Field Championships July 8-10 at Delta College and Edison High. The top five placers in each event qualify for the USATF Junior Olympic Nationals July 26-31 in Wichita, Kan.

Club members may still compete in other events on their own. If the interest is there, Hauck added that the team may enter in indoor events.

“We’re trying to get as many people involved as we possibly can,” Hauck said. “The stronger we can get it the more likely it’s going to stay around.

“I know this year it’s going to be hard, but next year we’ll be ready for it.”