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Track And Field Preview - Bruin Athletes Eye Tough Conference Run
It wouldn't be track and field season at Riverbank High if Bruin distance runners weren't at the top of their field.

Bruin competitors, including a hoard of distance specialists, lead Riverbank's 2012 track and field athletes into a gauntlet of conference opposition this year.

Riverbank's boys were first and girls second in last year's Trans-Valley League standings, but stiff competition from the likes of Ripon, Escalon and Hughson expect to muddle up the league title race.

The Hughson boys edged Riverbank during the Stanislaus County Meet in Turlock this preseason, and return enough athletes to provide some serious contention for a conference championship.

"We have a little bit smaller team than we have had over the last few years, but they are very talented," Riverbank coach Monte Wood said. "I am really excited to see how we develop, and the Hughson meet should be an exciting competition, as it was last year."


Riverbank sophomore Luis Figueroa was third among 30 runners in the 1600 meter race at the County Meet on March 9. He also ended fourth in the 3200 and watched Raymond Burney, Gabe Manriquez, Alex Reynaga and Robert Martinez land first in the 1600 relay.

"We have never had a kid that works harder than Luis and it is paying off for him," Wood said. "He is only a sophomore, but he is really race savvy and is a great example to our team."

Figueroa and fellow sophomore distance mate Adrian Salazar expect to lead the Bruins during distance competitions in 2012, while Manriquez, a freshman, has shown impressive speed in Riverbank sprints at distances of 100, 200 and 400 meters. He was first in the 400 and second in the 200 during the Pitman Frosh/Soph Showcase on March 23.

Reynaga continues his torrid prep career with action in relays and hurdles, while fellow senior, Martinez, expects to stand out in the long and triple jump. Sophomore Fabian Arana was runner up at the showcase (discus), top-10 in both the discus and shot put at the county meet and will lead a Bruin throwing group that includes Luis Solario, Steven Arnold and Nester Montoya. Christian Torres (middle distance) and Jake Smink (jumps) also should contribute key scoring during 2012 meets. Smink landed second (long jump) at the showcase during his first ever competition at the event.

"The biggest impression that has been made over the first two weeks of the competitive season has been how our young kids are shining," Wood said. "We had some outstanding results (at showcase) from our excellent crop of young kids."


Mikayla Florez has more followers than a popular Twitter account. The dedicated sophomore used a huge kick in her last 100 meters to best returning state qualifier Faith Makau of Enochs in the 1600 and claim championship honors at the County Meet.

Florez was second to Makau in the 800 and watched senior distance teammates Jackie Herrera (third) and Adriana Rosales (fifth) finish strong in the 3200. The notable performances led Riverbank's girls to a sixth place team finish among 15 competing programs.

Junior Melissa Garcia claimed runner-up shot put honors at the same meet. Her sophomore counterpart, Janelle Luu, claimed championship throws in the shot and discus at the showcase a week later. The pair is joined this year by sharp newcomers and basketball standouts Tiffany Edgar (senior) and Angel Harrell (junior), who should contend for conference throw points.

Florez, Herrera, Rosales and freshman Melissa Romero will handle distance duties while junior Vanessa Vargas leads a sprint tandem that includes Erica Orellana, Sabrina Garcia (jumps) and Marie Lamo. Freshman standout Haley Richardson will also sprint, hurdle and compete in jump events while Genisa Contreras also expects to compete across the field of events.

"We have a lot of returning talent and several exceptional newcomers," Wood said. "Freshmen Haley Richardson, Sabrina Garcia, Melissa Romero, and Gabe Manriquez have been nothing short of outstanding."