Demetrius Snaer, the men’s track coach at Modesto Junior College, scanned the result sheet from 2014 and was struck by two raw facts:
▪ 1. His team did not score a point in the Big 8 Conference Championships in races 800 meters or longer, and,
▪ 2. His team still placed second.
One can figure out where Snaer started on the recruiting trail for his 11th season as coach. He found runners, and the result is a balanced lineup that should contend for a Big 8 title.
“I think we’ll be good if we stay healthy,” Snaer said. “We feel we really improved in the distance races.”
Four freshmen – Pitman High School graduates Aaron Mayfield (the brother of MJC star Sarah Mayfield) and Isaac Gonzalez, Johansen product Alexies Reynoso and Weston Ranch grad Brendon Curtright – should provide the points MJC missed last year in the longer races.
The Pirates appear to be solid everywhere else with sophomore sprinter Matthew East replacing Eric Adorno and the versatile Ronnie Holley excelling in the sprints, hurdles and jumps. Sophomore Nick Pulos will help in the pole vault and javelin. A freshman to watch is Onix Paredes in the pole vault.
In the weight events – an MJC strong point in recent years – Daniel Roberts comes to Modesto after he won the South Dakota state title in the shot put and discus. Erick Loomis, from Hanford, qualified for the Junior Nationals in the hammer throw. He’ll succeed Aldo Guzman (Cal State Northridge), who won the NorCal title and placed sixth in the state last spring in the hammer.
The MJC men’s and women’s home schedule features the 209 Shootout against Merced and San Joaquin Delta on Friday and the annual Jack Albiani Invitational on March 13.
Here is the rest of the MJC spring preview:
Women’s track and field
Coach: Jeff Paneda (first season)
2014: Third in Big 8 Conference, sixth in NorCal, seventh in state
Key losses: Cara McClain, Becky Hobby, Tory Dickerson, Morgan McFaddin
Key returners: Sarah Mayfield, Ashlee Jones, Alexandria Golikov, Melissa Garcia, Karina Ruiz, Ceslie Cooksey, Jaleyah Douglass
Key newcomers: Lia Burrell, Alexis Bautista, Harleen Pabla, Lyric Anderson, Sherlyn Hernandez, Nicole Hobby, Natalie Griffin
Prognosis: Mayfield, an MJC star two years ago after winning the NorCal title and placing fourth in the state in the 800, is back. Strength in the sprints will come from Lyric Anderson (12.41 seconds in the 100) from Dos Palos and sophomore Ashlee Jones. The Pirates can’t replace the diminutive state champion hammer thrower Cara McClain (Southeastern Louisiana), distance runner Becky Hobby (UNLV) and the versatile weight-events standout Tory Dickerson (San Diego State). Alexandria Golikov, Melissa George and Jaleyah Douglass should gather points in the throws. Paneda, a former MJC athlete, replaces veteran Mary Shea, who will return to her MJC cross country/track coaching after she finishes her year’s sabbatical.
Coach: Ron Gross (eighth)
2014: Third in Big 8
Key losses: A.J. Borges, Robert Wikoff, Austen Cardoza, Ryan Jones, Kris Mayfield
Key returner: Kyle Head
Key newcomers: Riley Pizl, Spencer Morse, Christian Mullins, Tim Baker, Josh Strand
Prognosis: The Pirates will lack last year’s depth after the graduation of A.J. Borges (Texas Tech), Robert Wikoff (Pacific), Austen Cardoza (UNLV), Ryan Jones (Missouri Valley State) and Kris Mayfield (San Francisco State). The only returner is Kyle Head, who’s No. 3 in the current lineup. Riley Pizl, who played for Kimball High two years ago, appears to be the top freshman. He shot 78 in the Big 8 opener at Stanford. Gross looks for progress from freshmen Spencer Morse (Sonora), Christian Mullins (Big Valley Christian), Tim Baker (Manteca) and Josh Strand (Johansen).
Coach: Shawn Black (12th)
2014: Second in Big 8-South, fourth in NorCal
Key losses: Bryce Purser, Austin Tay, Rick Peloso, Zach Woerner
Key returners: Cory Purser, Jose Gonzalez
Key newcomers: Gurman Bains, J.T. Barcellos, Frank Perez, Jake Varner
Prognosis: The Pirates, beaten in the Big 8-South last year only by eventual state champion Fresno, will rebuild. Jose Gonzalez, No. 6 in the MJC lineup in 2009, plays in the No. 1 slot six years later. Cory Purser, No. 6 for the Pirates last year, faces a big challenge this year as the No. 2 singles. MJC opened with three nonleague losses.
Coach: Milan Motroni (11th)
2014: Second in Big 8-South
Key losses: Monique Origel
Key returners: Chiara Adamo, Britney Leon, Rebecca Jacobson
Key newcomers: Vanessa Teves, Parker Pilati, Kristi Van Diver
Prognosis: MJC opened with three wins but will be challenged in next week’s Big 8-South opener against defending champion Fresno. Adamo, No. 1 in the lineup last year, will compete at No. 2 behind freshman Vanessa Teves out of Enochs. Motroni thinks her team will be better with the addition of Teves, Parker Pilati (from the golf team) and Kristi Van Diver (from the volleyball team).
Coach: Eric Fischer (first)
2014: Fifth in Big 8
Key losses: Ethan Heacox, Brandon Rabe, Brad McCain
Key returners: Manny Bettencourt
Key newcomers: C.J. Cossey, Joey Oliveira, Jacob Schanen, Austin Morton
Prognosis: Fischer, the coach of the MJC water polo teams, fills in this spring for Kurt Olson, who’s on sabbatical. Fischer will rely on Joey Oliveira and C.J. Cossey in the sprints, Jacob Schanen for middle distance and individual medley and Austin Morton in the longer races.
Coach: Eric Fischer (first)
2014: Sixth in Big 8
Key losses: Miranda Knobloch, Kamarin Waite
Key returner: Emily Lewis
Key newcomers: Ariel Cisneros, Aubrey Drobnick
Prognosis: The Pirates, lacking depth, will feature Lewis in individual medley and middle distance races, Ariel Cisneros in long distance and Aubrey Drobnick and Eidie Price in the sprints.