Garza, Jordan, Batteate shine at Modesto Junior College Invitational

Nicky Batteate made headlines in the fall as the featured running back for Oakdale High's Sac-Joaquin Section championship football team.

The Mustangs' junior is pretty good on the track as well.

Batteate cruised to an impressive victory in the 400-meter dash in front of a large crowd at the Modesto Junior College Invitational. His time, 50.24 seconds, was more than a second faster than his previous best.

Modesto Christian sophomore Taryn Garza and Central Valley senior Latrisha Jordan had even better days. Garza won the 200, 400 and high jump. Jordan was the winner in both hurdles events, and finished just behind Garza in the 400. They shared MVP honors.

There were two more double-winners on the girls side: the Bret Harte duo of Kaitlyn O'Connor (800, 1,600) and Alexandra Ballard (shot put, discus).

Batteate looked impressive in powering through the field.

Last year, he was a cog in the Mustangs' 1,600-meter relay team, a group that made it to the CIF State Meet. His fastest 400 last year was 51.9 seconds. His times have improved dramatically since then.

"This is only my second year running the 400," Batteate said. "This year, it feels like I've figured out how to run it. All of a sudden, it's like I get it."

He crossed the line well ahead of his competitors, then was stunned to learn of his time.

"I didn't realize I was that fast," Batteate said. "Wow."

Garza cruised to victory in the 400 and held off a spirited field in the 200. The surprise was the high jump, an event new to her this season.

"I cleared 4-6 last year," Garza said. "But I've been practicing a lot, and I feel I've become more athletic."

She cleared 5-2 to win it. She was happiest about that, and her 400 time: a sizzling personal best of 57.85 seconds.

"I'm pretty happy with that time," Garza said. "It's great for being pretty early in the season."

Jordan was just as impressive, winning in both hurdles events. In the 300, her best event, she won in 45.63 seconds, nearly five seconds faster than the runner-up. She qualified for the CIF State Meet in the 300 last year, becoming her school's first athlete to go to state.

Davis junior Lindsey Powers won the 100 in 12.80 and was part of the Spartans' winning 4x100 relay team, but she couldn't stick around for the 200 and a matchup with Garza. Instead, the junior went to Davis' prom.