The first day of the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Track and Field Championships breaks down to one simple goal – advance to the second day.
Yes, it’s one-day-at-a-time for everyone from 2016 400-meters champion Claire Seymour of Enochs to wet-behind-the-ears underclassmen. In races from the 100 through the 800, the first step calls for a solid performance in Thursday’s trials.
If successful, it leads to a spot in Friday’s finals and a chance for the target of all athletes assembling at Elk Grove High – a top-three finish and a berth at the CIF Championships next weekend at Clovis’ Buchanan High.
Seymour, the determined senior who soon will run for BYU, renews her friendly rivalry with Armijo senior and 2015 Masters champion Saravaughn King. They’ll compete in different heats Thursday, but the talented duo along with 2016 section runner-up Emily Costello of Vista del Lago eventually should reunite for an entertaining title race Friday night.
The Enochs star’s load was lightened last week when she scratched from the 800 at the Section Division I meet. She worked on the 800 this spring in preparation for her college years and was ranked fifth in the section (she’s second behind King in the 400).
Modesto Christian senior Nicole Warwick, a two-time state qualifier in the long jump (seventh in the state last year), also is poised for two busy days. Warwick’s leap of 20 feet at the Trans-Valley League Championships puts her second in the section and third in the state.
She and twin Meagan Warwick will hustle back home after Friday’s finals to speak as co-valedictorians at MC’s commencement.
“I still want to get to 20 and a half feet this year,” Warwick said last week at the Section D-IV/V meet. “It’s going to be fun. Hopefully, we’ll go to graduation on a good note.”
20-0Nicole Warwick’s career-best long jump
Thursday’s program also features finals in six field events. Downey senior Anne Stuart, third in the Masters high jump last year, will vie for her second straight trip to Clovis. Sonora freshman Joziah Bradford also will be watched in the triple jump after his impressive 47-10, tops in the second and second in the state, earlier this month at the Mother Lode League meet. El Capitan junior Dominique Navarrette is ranked first in the section in the discus (169-8).
There will be three heat races in each lane event Thursday night. The winner of each heat plus the five fastest times qualify for the finals.
Golden Valley’s Shawn Bettencourt won four events – the 100, 110 hurdles, 300 hurdles and the 4x100 relay – at last week’s D-I meet at Elk Grove. The Cougars became the first southern-section team in a decade to take home a D-1 blue banner.
The section’s three best intermediate hurdlers – Deion Lightfoot of Kimball, Bikram Thiara of Sierra and Bettencourt – will compete in different heats Thursday. Thiara placed sixth at state last year.
Lathrop senior Isaias Hunter, ranked second in the section in the high jump (6-8), goes Friday. He finished seventh at state in 2016.