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Bruin Track Stars Impress Early For Solid Start To Season
0313 Track 2
Adrian Salazar of Riverbank takes the baton for the final leg of the distance medley relay. - photo by PHOTO BY DICK HODGES

So long maroon and silver — Riverbank High’s track and field program is going green.

The 2012-13 Bruins waste not, and wasted no time building an impressive repertoire of marks this year.

Athletes have already soared past personal bests to land some of the best marks in school history. They did it two months before the 2013 season will even begin.

“I have been really impressed with the way our kids have competed thus far in the season,” Riverbank coach Monte Wood said. “The freshmen and sophomores especially have proven to be talented and gutsy.”

That’s high praise from a coach who has mentored some of the top athletes in Sac-Joaquin Section Division V history. Wood said the team landed three stunning personal bests at the Stanislaus County Meet on March 8 and came dangerously close to eclipsing meet records after stunning performances at the Tom Moore Relays on March 2.

Junior Mikayla Florez led the way on March 8 with her third consecutive title in the 1600 (five minutes, 25.96 seconds) while sophomore Hayley Richardson was second among 21 runners from 12 different teams in the event.

Senior Melissa Garcia, who saw her wrestling season end with a devastating injury, heaved past the field of 21 shot-putters with a 34 foot, three inch toss. She was four inches farther than anyone else and ended fourth in the discus to represent a key cog in Riverbank’s push to a fourth place team finish among 15 girls programs.

Sophomore Sabrina Garcia ran Riverbank’s fastest 200 (27.94) since Chico State star Kelley Clancy and was fourth. Also nabbing team points was sophomore Stephanie Zarate, who was fifth in the 3200.

“(Stephanie) is the epitome of hard work and determination,” Wood said.

Angel Harrell was fifth in the discus and seventh in the shot while Richardson and freshmen Lydia Hodges were tied for sixth in the pole vault. The 1600 relay team was third overall as well.

The Bruin boys rallied to a sixth place finish, but were only a few points away from fourth place.

Junior Jonathen Beliera set a monstrous personal record in the 3200 (10:22) with his third place finish while sophomore Fabian Arana ended second in the shot put and fifth in the discus.

Junior Adrian Salazar was sixth in the 1600 while freshman Ruben Paredez ended eighth in the same race. First-year runner and junior Armando Vargas leaped to an 18-9 mark in the long jump (seventh) while senior Christian Torres battled to third in the 800 with a sharp personal best of 2:04.

The 1600 team ended second while sophomore Gabe Manriquez fought for a third place 23.5 in the 200. Freshman Simon White was also third in the 200.

Riverbank was fresh off a sterling performance at the Tom Moore Relays, where the frosh/soph girls were third overall and won four of the six relay events. Zarate, Sabrina Garcia, Hodges and Richardson won the distance medley relay and came within five seconds of breaking the meet record. Sabrina Garcia and freshman Kimberly Ruvalcaba won the shuttle hurdle relay. Ruvalcaba, Hodges, Sabrina Garcia and Richardson won the sprint medley relay as well. Richardson and Hodges also showcased versatility by going 1-2 in the pole vault as well. Karina Cajero was sixth in the shot put and fourth in the discus.

The varsity girls were led by Harrell and Melissa Garcia, who went 1-2 in the girls discus. Florez was second in the 1600.

For the boys, Arana was third in the shot put with a personal best (topping his previous mark by five feet) while the frosh-soph boys 400 relay team of Manriquez, Paredez, White and Sam Certuche was fourth. The same group was third in the sprint medley relay.

“Our freshmen and sophomores are really shining right now,” Wood said. “They are fearless and hard workers.”

Riverbank is at the Pitman Showcase in Turlock on Friday.