A good memory served Kyle Peterson well Thursday at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Track and Field Championships.
Peterson, an Oakdale High senior unmistakable with his red hair and chiseled muscles, brought home the Masters discus title at sunny Elk Grove High.
His energy was born of two factors: 1. A hunger to win, and 2. The determination not to repeat last year's Masters, where he did not reach the final three throws.
"That was a huge motivation," Peterson said. "I came here, looked around and remembered last year. It bothered me a little bit inside."
He responded with a throw of 170 feet, 7 inches a personal best by two inches on his fourth attempt. Until then, Grant sophomore lefty Darrin Paulo, a behemoth who neither spins nor steps, launched an eyebrow-raising 168-7 on his second try for the lead.
Peterson, whose classic form comes from sessions with throws coach Brett Chappell and three-time Olympian Suzy Powell-Roos, didn't panic. Paulo failed to approach that distance again while Peterson rallied.
"I don't know how you end up with that. He's amazing. He beat me at the Meet of Champions (in Sacramento)," Peterson said in reference to Paulo's all-power style. "I did exactly what my coach told me to do. I got my right leg around, my right-side engine."
Peterson, also a two-time section divisional champion, was the Stanislaus District's only first-day champion at the Masters. Finals were staged in six field events while preliminaries on the track advanced athletes to tonight's finals.
The top three finishers in each event qualify for the CIF State Championships next week at Buchanan High in Clovis.
Golden Valley senior Harman Purewal placed second in the high jump (6-foot-5) and finished about five minutes before Center's Xavier Howell leaped 7-0, the first Californian this season to top seven feet.
The discus, the day's first event, also featured Beyer's Keanu Prom who finished fifth (156-1). Behind him in sixth was Central Catholic's Ivan Swalve (155-2). Prom missed third place by only 20 inches.
Oakdale senior triple jumper Kelley Gratigny, who will continue her career at UC Santa Barbara, compiled a strong series, including a personal-best 38-1. The section divisional champion placed fifth.
The lane-event trials targeted only one goal qualifying for tonight's finals. The winners of each of the three heats and the five fastest times from the rest advanced.
Enochs' Faith Makau, the defending Masters champion in the 1600, tuned up with a win in the trials of the 800. Her 2:17.47 was the day's best.
Another standout was Sierra senior Emmnauel Elijah, who captured his heat of the 100 (10.96) and assisted the Timberwolves' 4x100 team into the finals. Only defending champion Austin Mitsch of Jesuit was faster in the 100 (10.69).
Modesto Christian's James Warwick, the winner of both hurdles last week at the Section D-4/5, focused on the 110s and advanced with a 14.97.
Also competing tonight are Modesto Christian's Lexi Tubbs in the 100 hurdles, Turlock's Mallory Patino in the 300 hurdles and Me'che Brown of Oakdale in the 100.
As for Peterson, he'll no doubt check on Oakdale freshman Hannah Chappell Brett's daughter and one of the favorites tonight in the girls discus. After that, it's on to Clovis.
Bee staff writer Ron Agostini can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2302. Follow Ron via Twitter @modbeesports.
For video from the meet, go to www.modbee.com/videos