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Championship Run For Bruin Boys Track And Field
Riverbank senior Mikala Stewart qualifies in the girls discus at last weeks TVL meet on the RHS campus. The Bruins boys and girls team are sending 13 athletes to the Section divisionals competition at Stanislaus State this week. RIC MCGINNIS/THE NEWS


Riverbank’s boys came away with top honors in the Trans-Valley League in track and field this season, while the girls – who were plagued by injuries during the year – finished in fifth.

“On Thursday night, May 12, the Riverbank boys track and field team captured their first TVL Championship since 2010,” Bruin coach Monte Wood said.

They were undefeated as they won the TVL Relays, were 6-0 in dual meets and won the TVL Meet on the RHS all-weather track. It was close and exciting, noted Wood, as the final score ended up being Riverbank, 119, and Hughson, 115.

“We got off to a dominating start in the field events as the throwers set the tone for the meet by scoring 19 in the shot put and then 21 points in the discus. Omar Montoya, Martin Cornejo, Will Carson, and Hector Sanchez were dominant. Omar and Martin have been all year, but Carson and Sanchez came up big with five total points in the throws,” Wood said. “Daniel Martens did well in the triple jump, his best jump going into the meet was 38-feet, 7-inches, but he popped a 41-foot jump to take second in the event. Wolfgang Lopez took third in the high jump.”

The pole vaulters finished the field events with Marty Sveen winning. He posted a personal record of 12-feet, 6-inches and Eric Wise took third with a jump of 11-feet even.

A problem developed when Sveen had to go run the 110 hurdles and began to cramp up, the coach said.

“We finally got him feeling well enough to run and he led the race after the fourth hurdle, but hit the next and fell, taking him out of the race,” Wood explained. “But sophomore Zac Richison bolted into fifth place in the race, finishing with a personal record of 17.58, just out leaning a Hughson athlete.”

The coach said Riverbank seemed to take control of the meet after Michael Rodriguez and Ruben Paredez tied for first in the 1600.

Hughson came charging back and made it close by winning the 300 hurdles, 800, and going 1-2 in the 3200.

“Going into the last event, the 4x400 relay, we had a 6-point lead,” Wood said. “We had held Daniel Martens out of the 200 and Michael Rodriguez out of the 3200 to have a strong relay team ready. It proved to be enough as we set an 8 second personal record for the year and finished right behind Hughson and finished with a 4-point win.”

That capped the undefeated season for the TVL champions.

“To say that I am proud of this team is an understatement. I am not sure they are the most talented team in the league, but I know they are one of the least talented teams that I have been a part of at Riverbank in 19 years of coaching. However, this team was probably the most focused, reliable, and hardest working team I have coached. Many of these kids ran for four years and kept getting better for all four years,” said Wood.

Effort and dedication, the coach added, made the difference.

“We have been using the phrase ‘Bruin Built’ for about a year now. It describes those kids that aren’t that talented but work hard and make the most out of the talent they do have,” he noted. “This boys team and their championship defined ‘Bruin Built.’ They just kept working and competing and getting better. It is also a testimony to our coaching staff.”

Some team members that haven’t been in the spotlight but made a difference were also saluted by the coach.

“I don’t mention them very often, but Paul Smith, Adam Cooper, Robbie Searway, Josh Buchanan, and Sam Gong did an amazing job this year. I think their hard work and believing in these kids kept our athletes focused and wanting to win,” Wood said.

On the girls side, Riverbank finished fifth but only 8 points separated second and fifth places at the TVL competition, as Hughson ran away with the meet.

“Injuries really hurt our girls team all season long,” Wood said. “Our top three distance runners all battled injuries for most of the year and we had to limit Kimberly Ruvalcaba and Stephanie Bernal to just the 3200. We couldn’t run Alondra Hernandez at all.

“The other kids performed well but we just couldn’t overcome the injuries. One thing I will say about them though, that really impressed me; the girls were just as excited as the guys that the guys won the TVL Championship. I love that all our kids pull for each other and understand that a championship for one team is a championship for all of us,” Wood concluded.

Finishing first in their events and claiming individual TVL championships were Michael Rodriguez and Ruben Paredez in the 1600 meters in a dead heat. Omar Montoya took the boys shot put while Martin Cornejo finished on top in the discus. Marty Sveen took the pole vault, with Kimberly Ruvalcaba in the girls 3200 meter race, and Sierra Nabors topping the girls pole vault.

Several other Bruin athletes also qualified to the divisional meet by placing in the top 3 at the league meet. Lydia Hodges in the pole vault and long jump. Michael Rodriguez qualified in two events, the 800-meter and 1600-meter races. Mikala Stewart placed in discus, with Daniel Martens in the triple jump. Wolfgang Lopez qualified in the high jump, Eric Wise in the pole vault and Diego Ruiz in the 3200 meter.

Divisional Trials began Tuesday, May 14 at Stanislaus State in Turlock and continue on Thursday this week. Those doing well in Turlock will compete in the Masters Trials in Elk Grove on Thursday and Friday, May 26 and 27.