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Bruin Track And Field Runs Through Busy Week
Riverbank runner Julian Lopez completes the first lap in his heat, competing in one of the races of the German Fernandez Distance Carnival last Friday on the RHS track. News Photos By Ric McGinnis

The Bruin co-ed track and field team was busy over the past week here, with a dual meet on Wednesday and not one, but two inaugural events in the home stadium on Friday.


TVL Dual Meet

The Riverbank team walked away from their dual meet on Wednesday with smiles on their faces, despite being beaten handily by a “very talented” Ripon High team, according to head coach Monte Wood. He said almost every Bruin set personal records, and many of them, multiple times.

“We even added a new member to the Bruin Elite Track and Field Club. Xavier Esquivel remained undefeated in the high jump and cleared six feet, which is the elite standard for the boys high jump,” he said.

“Alondra Hernandez cruised to an easy victory in the 800, then split a 59.3 leg in the 4x400 relay to win an exciting race to end the meet,” Wood added.

Jenise Perryman won the triple jump at 31-8. Sophomore Julian Lopez won both the 1600- and 3200-meter races, setting personal bests in both events.


Invitational Meets

On Friday, Riverbank hosted two successive events, each honoring a significant figure in Bruin Track and Field sports over the years, bringing runners and throwers to Angelo Novi Stadium.

Athletes from eight different schools were invited to compete in the inaugural Ron Hebert Thrower’s Challenge at the RHS stadium. Then runners from as many as 15 local schools came to participate in the first German Fernandez Distance Carnival.

At 4 p.m., both discus and shot put competitors began head to head clashes. Events were broken into varsity girls, varsity boys and freshman/sophomore boys and girls divisions in both the discus and shot put pits.

Events were divided up similarly in the Distance Carnival, with Middle Schoolers added in. Scheduled events included 1600-meter races, 800-, 3200-meter runs, and finishing with Girls and Boys 3x800 Relays.

For first events, Wood said he thought things went well, “despite a few oversights and issues.”

He noted highlights from both events:

“Derek Hernandez continues to improve in the shot put,” Wood said. “On Wednesday, he went 41-11. On Friday, he threw 43-3. When he first started throwing, Coach Cooper and I both knew he would be good. He is getting there.”

Wood says he anticipates a 45-foot throw within the next two weeks. Hernandez was third overall in the varsity shot put.

“Isaac Andalon had a good night, also,” Wood said. “You won’t see this often, but he took fifth in the freshman/sophomore boys shot put. Then, he placed fourth in frosh/soph mile, and after that, he ran on the winning frosh/soph 4x800 relay team. And he’s a freshman.”

The new events honored two figures from Riverbank’s rich track and field tradition.

Ron Hebert taught and coached at Riverbank High for 22 years. During that time, Wood said, he coached both football and track and field. Then he coached at MJC. As an RHS track coach, his teams won 21 TVL titles, according to Wood, with his athletes winning numerous league titles, setting school records along the way, with one going on to compete in the U.S. T&F Championship in the hammer throw.

German Fernandez is a distance runner who attended RHS several years ago.

“He is arguably the greatest boy high school distance runner in U.S. history,” Wood said.

He holds the state course record in cross country for 5k.

“In June of 2008, over a two-and-a-half hour period, he set California State Meet records for both the 1600- and 3200-meter runs,” Wood said. “Competing at Oklahoma State, he set the Junior World Record for the indoor mile and went on to set NCAA and other national records.”

Fernandez is a graduate student at Oklahoma State and training for the 2020 Olympics, according to Wood.

One of the great things about track and field, Wood said, is that there is no bench. Every athlete who practices gets to compete.

“Looking at the results,” Wood summarized, “there were many personal records set, and that is what we wanted. It might have been just in time for the distance runners because it looks like the heat hits this week.”

Riverbank will host Escalon in their regular season track and field finale on Wednesday, May 3 starting at 3:30 p.m. and then the Bruins will play host to the Frosh/Soph league championship on Friday, May 5.