TURLOCK — Kyle Peterson clenched his fist and allowed a small smile Thursday. Within seconds, anxiety was transformed into relief.
The Oakdale High School senior had just thrown the discus 177 feet, smashing both division and school records Thursday at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV/V Championships. There’s a big target on his back, given the fact he’s the two-time section masters champion, and he felt some predictable pressure.
Then he did something about it.
“I feel a lot more confident than I have been,” Peterson said. “I’ve been stuck at around 170 feet for a year.”
Complicating matters was Riverbank’s improving senior Fabian Arana, who beat Peterson at the Stanislaus County/Merced County meet. Arana jumped into the lead Thursday when he tucked his third throw just inside the sector for a personal-best 165-8.
Peterson made a slight adjustment heading into his first attempt of the finals. In the throws, it only takes one. Just like that, he erased Tim House’s 176-0 school record (2010) and the divisional mark. Arana’s best held up for second.
“I didn’t know Fabian could throw that far. I knew he was good, but that caught me off-guard,” Peterson said. “I just brought my leg around a little wider. It felt good.”
Peterson’s win, coupled with his victory Tuesday night in the shot put, accented the appealing me-versus-you competition that raises all boats in track and field. A postcard afternoon and evening at Cal State Stanislaus’ Al Brenda Track at Warrior Stadium produced more than a few eye-catching results.
Oakdale’s throwers, in fact, captured all titles. Peterson’s double was supplemented by Kai Tanner’s win in the shot put and Hannah Chappell’s dominance Tuesday night in the discus.
The top five in each event advanced to the section masters next week in Elk Grove, so everyone understood what it took to extend their season.
Kimball’s Damon Jackson, one the section’s top sprinters, burnished his credentials with his double in the 100 (10.72) and 200 (21.96). In the 100, runner-up and Central Valley football star Ja’Quan Gardner sped close the first 40 meters before Jackson accelerated impressively.
If Jackson’s success wasn’t entirely unexpected, a mild surprise was supplied by East Union junior Jordan McNeal. She opened the meet by taking the anchor baton of the 4x100 relay in third place, only to catch and pass two opponents for the win. Later, she pulled away from Central Valley’s Sherlyn Hernandez and Julia Price of Kimball in the final 20 meters for the win in the 100 (12.34).
“The season has had its ups and downs,” McNeal said. “It felt good to pull it together when it mattered the most.”
Senior Steven Grolle, a distance-running star since he enrolled at Sonora High School, pulled the most from his busy day with victories in the 1,600 (4:27.34) and later in the the 3,200 (9:35.40).
Riverbank senior Mikayla Florez, who’s wrapping up a better-than-good prep career, edged Hannah Hull of Calaveras for the victory in the 1,600 (5:09.08). Other wins were recorded by Central Catholic’s Cameron Olson in the 400 (49.17), Escalon freshman Yajaira Salinas in the 800 (2:19.85), Heaven Simon of Central Valley in the 300 hurdles (45.19), Sonora pole vaulter Bryce Sanguinetti (14-9) and Patterson’s Daniel Kelepi in the long jump (20-9).
Modesto Christian’s three-sport star Lexi Tubbs led the Crusaders to a D-V blue banner with a win in the 100 hurdles (15.22). The boys D-IV title was shared by Hughson, Ripon and Dixon, each with 18 points.
The Sierra boys enjoyed a wide margin of victory over runner-up El Dorado in D-IV. Cosumnes Oaks edged Vista del Lago for the D-IV girls title.