ELK GROVE — When Modesto High School senior high jumper Jose Gonzalez celebrates, he jumps.
When he’s happy over anything, he jumps.
When he has a few spare minutes, he jumps.
It follows that when Gonzalez secured his berth to the CIF State Championships on Friday afternoon, he performed his signature backflip in front of the pit.
“I was happy,” he said. “Good turnaround from last week.”
Gonzalez placed third in the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Track & Field Championship at Elk Grove High, and only the top three in each event go to Clovis next week.
His clearance of 6 feet, 5 inches, two inches better than his disappointing effort last week at the Division I meet, gave him third place due to fewer misses over two others, including Ripon senior Bryan Vincent, whose 6-5 reportedly was a school record.
The clutch third, coupled with the second straight Masters discus title by Oakdale senior Kyle Peterson, anchored the performance by Stanislaus District athletes.
Gonzalez, whose season-best 6-9 leads the section, struggled to a fifth last week at the D-I meet. Worse, his takeoff (left) knee throbbed with pain, and he considered not even competing at Masters.
He made the right choice.
“My knee wasn’t hurting. Icing it during the week helped,” Gonzalez said. “Last week was a reality check for me. Making only 6-3 was embarrassing.”
He wore a protective wrap Friday and clearly felt better. Last week was Gonzalez’s first loss of the season, an otherwise stirring run during which he snapped a 54-year-old school record.
Gonzalez, determined to bounce back, missed only once as he topped 6-1, 6-3 and 6-5. As it turned out, that was the difference.
In fact, his first try at 6-7 was a beauty. He no doubt had the lift but clipped the bar with his heel during his descent.
“It felt like my 6-9 jump,” Gonzalez said in reference to his leap last month at Sacramento’s Meet of Champions. “I was three inches over. I knew I would be good (Friday).”
Davis-Yolo’s Kyle Clancy, who won the long jump Thursday, was the only entry to clear 6-7. Brian Graber of Granite Bay took second. Deaven Booker of Beyer hit 6-3 for sixth.
“Jose came through. He likes pressure,” Modesto coach Arlen Peters said.
Peterson responded in the discus with the best series of his career – four throws longer than 170 feet, accented by his 176-footer on his third attempt for back-to-back Masters wins. He missed his personal best, set last week at the D-IV/V meet, by a foot.
Challenging him, much like last year, was Grant’s 6-51/2, 325-pound Darrin Paulo, who threatened in the next-to-last round with a 173-6. Nevertheless, Peterson completed Oakdale’s back-to-back Masters double by him and Hannah Chappell.
“To defend my title is the greatest feeling ever,” Peterson said. “I was fully rested (Friday). It means so much to do it again.”
Also continuing next week is Sonora’s Stanford-bound Steven Grolle, who placed second in the 3,200 (9:13.97).
Grolle, who made state in the 1,600 as a sophomore, edged in front of Granite Bay’s Paul Zeiss as the bell (final lap) rang. Zeiss caught and overtook the Wildcat in the middle of the back stretch and won by about 10 meters.
“When I went to state as a sophomore, it was all luck,” Grolle said. “This was pure work here. I feel so validated for the work we’ve done.”
District athletes excelled in the girls triple jump but didn’t extend their season. Pitman junior Lauren Cariaso was victimized by a painful fourth, though her 36-51/2 trailed third-place Alyssa Lengtat of Davis-Yolo by nearly two feet.
“I felt I did OK,” Cariaso said. “My body did funny things (Friday).”
More tough-luck fourths were logged by Patterson senior Daniel Kelepi in the 110 hurdles (14.57) and Riverbank senior Fabian Arana in the discus (151-0). Kelepi missed a trip to state by three-hundredths of a second.
Oakdale senior Dezirae Pennington captured fifth (36-11/4) in the triple jump and Modesto Christian sophomore Lailoni Gaines sixth (35-61/2). Modesto Christian’s Lexi Tubbs capped a stirring three-sport prep career with a fifth in the 100 hurdles (14.92).
Central Catholic’s Cameron Olson finished sixth in the 400 (49.16). Bret Harte star Tristan Boblet was fifth in the 1,600 (4:23.4).