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Lady Bruins Capture First SJS Track Banner
5-22 RIV Track Florez
The third lap of the 1600 provides some more momentum for Riverbanks Mikayla Florez, who sped to her personal best and a second place finish at the Division IV-V Championships. - photo by Hime Romero/The News

After a day of competition at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV-V Track and Field Championships, Riverbank High’s varsity girls were deadlocked for the D-V lead and thick in the hunt for a first ever section banner.

By the completion of the second day, the Lady Bruins had blown opposition out of the water.

Brilliant performances from Mikayla Florez, Melissa Garcia and the entire 1600 meter relay team carried the Lady Bruins to a stunning rally of 22 points for a 36-point finish that easily eclipsed Modesto Christian (22) and Livingston (18), while accumulating more points than nine Division V programs, combined.

“It wasn’t even close,” Riverbank coach Monte Wood said. “Our kids came in focused and everything went perfectly.”

The Bruins, boys and girls, ultimately qualified five girls and one boy to the SJS Masters Championships on Thursday, May 23 and Friday, May 24.

The Riverbank girls were tied with Marysville at 14 points after the first day of action, but saw the team blossom when Mikayla Florez hit events with vigor to accumulate a dazzling second day.

She sped to her personal best (second place) in the 1600 and returned to finish third in the 3200. She pulled herself together for one final race (1600 relay) and utilized a sizzling 60.4-second 400 split from Sabrina Garcia to keep the Lady Bruins in contention for future baton passes to both Melissa Romero and Haley Richardson. The relay team ended fifth to nab the final qualification to Masters.

Melissa Garcia also contributed second-day points with a third place heave in the discus. Her herculean throw of 37-1 in the shot put on day one was good enough for an event title. Richardson also ended fourth in the pole vault with a five-inch personal best (8-11). Richardson was one of three athletes to reach the mark, but did it on her first-attempt to nab the tie-breaker.

The D-V win was Riverbank’s first since the SJS split team honors from the D IV-V Championships in 2011.

“We would have won several others over the last 18 years if the current format of the meet would have been in place, but it wasn’t,” coach Wood said. “It was wonderful to be able to get that blue banner and think of coach (Ron) Hebert and coach (Bruce) Edwards, who helped build this program in the ‘90s. It was a team effort by all the athletes, coaches and parents.”

For the boys, Bruin thrower Fabian Arana was fifth in the discus (139-03) to earn his own Masters qualification.

The Bruins will compete with the best of the SJS when Masters action begins with 3 p.m. field events at Elk Grove High on Thursday.

Only the top three qualifiers in each event will move on to the California Interscholastic Federation Track and Field Championships. Melissa Garcia, ranked eighth in the section in the shot put (, could represent Riverbank’s best shot at state. Arana (ranked 13th in the discus) and Florez (17th in the 1600) should also do well.