For the perfect definition of the word “underdog,” we present Gregori High senior Antonio Castillo.
His name will not be found on the Sac-Joaquin Section’s list of top long jumpers. At the Modesto Metro Conference Championships, he finished an ordinary third.
But on Friday night at the Section Division I Championships, Castillo delivered a performance that seemed to surprise even him. He leaped 22 feet, 11 inches on his second attempt – a pinch-me 20 inches longer than his previous best – for the upset title.
“It just happened,” Castillo said in a verbal shrug. “It has something to do with practice. The way you practice is the way you perform.”
Castillo led an inspired showing by Stanislaus District long jumpers, who notched five of the top six places. Enochs junior Josh Mazur (22-3 1/2) captured second.
Until his victory, Castillo’s biggest achievement was reaching Section Masters a year ago (he did not qualify for the finals). He’s earned a re-do when the section’s best again congregate at Elk Grove for Masters on Thursday and Friday.
An ankle injury slowed him at the MMC meet, but he was healthy for the D-I. He and jumps coach Janet Taylor planned a tapering of workouts as they targeted Masters.
“The goal was 21-11 (the automatic qualifying mark for Masters),” he said. “Then I ended up going a foot over ...I felt it right when I jumped. It was a good jump.”
Most of the athletes Friday already had qualified for Masters. Many hoped only to stay sharp and keep pointing toward next week. But that didn’t keep Enochs’ Claire Seymour and Armijo’s Saravaughn King from renewing their friendly rivalry.
It just happened. It has something to do with practice. The way you practice is the way you perform.
Seymour, the 2016 Masters champion in the 400 meters, took a lead into the homestretch before King – the 2015 Masters winner – overtook her in the final 70 meters. The two chatted and hugged later, knowing they would meet again on the same track next week. Both posted season-bests – King a 55.61 and Seymour a 55.95.
“It was tough physically,” Seymour said. “I just wanted a good seed time today. That was a good enough seed time for me.”
About a half hour later, Seymour scratched from the 800, a race she began training for in preparation for her upcoming collegiate career at BYU. For now, she’s locked in on the 400.
Minus Seymour in the field, Gregori sophomore Briseida Garcia led for the first lap of the 800 before she eventually finished fourth (2:18.55). She’s looking forward to Masters, where she qualified for the final as a freshman.
“I’m tapering now. I hope that will get my legs fresh again,” Garcia said. “I know I can do better.”
Gregori’s Santiago Ruiz worked hard for a seventh in the 3,200 (9:34.71). On Wednesday, 2016 state qualifier Anne Stuart of Downey cleared 5-0 to place second. Pitman junior Whitney Barnes finished second in the shot put (40-6) and Turlock’s Nathan Garibay was fourth in the pole vault (13-10).
Gregori freshman Naomi Chappell picked up a sixth in the long jump (17-5).