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Bruins Look To More Success In 2011
Nothing changes on the Riverbank High track.

Every year the Bruin boys and girls stay in front of the pack as one of the best small school track and field programs in the Sac-Joaquin Section.

It's more of the same in 2011, even with some of the Bruins' brightest stars coming from their lower classes.

Freshman girls distantce runner Mikayla Florez and freshman boys thrower Fabian Arana will fill some big varsity roles through Trans-Valley League events this season as Riverbank fights for top conference honors.

Bruin athletes fresh from wrestling and basketball seasons are still settling into the routine of their respective events, but another big crop of competitors is staying busy these days on short sprints, distances, jumps, vaults and throws.

"We have competed very well so far, but we are young and a work in progress," Riverbank coach Monte Wood said. "We have to continue to get better and build."

Bruin athletes took on a huge crop of athletes from 27 schools at the Sierra-Tom Moore Relays on Saturday at Sierra High.

The Bruin frosh-soph girls finished fifth overall, just 12 points out of first place. The medley relay team won an exciting championship after Florez made up about 300 yards of a deficit by exploding for a huge last lap of her mile (5 minutes, 40 seconds) to take the late lead.

"That was a pretty good mile time for a freshman," coach Wood said. "It was exciting to see her bring us back."

Florez was also third in the 800 and saw Melissa Garcia (first in the shot, fourth in the discus) nab two throwing medals. Competing against mostly sophomores, Arana secured a gold medal in his first prep competition by winning the discus.

Riverbank's varsity shuttle hurdles teams of Mariela Vigil, Genisa Contreras and Venessa Vargas also placed second at the meet. Even without Florez, the varsity distance relay team finished third. Robert Martinez landed some big jumps and Ben Hodges posted a good time in the mile as well.

A change in the section format has allowed Riverbank an easier route to a section title this year. In the past, the Bruins would be forced to compete against larger schools like Oakdale and Sierra in a Division III meet. This year, the divisions are split to five with TVL qualifiers moving on to see the best from seven other small school leagues.

Basically, the TVL program that can outlast teams like Riverbank, Ripon, Escalon, Hughson and Hilmar will have a good chance to trade conference honors for a blue banner.

"I think the girls have a very good shot at winning the league and maybe even a section title since the divisionals are reorganized now," coach Wood said. "The boys also have a good shot at winning league, but they have a few more holes to fill than the girls.

"There is enough talent to win league and the section title, it is all a matter of how hard we work and staying healthy."

The Bruins are at Calaveras on Friday to continue preseason track and field action.