Two Gregori athletes are heading to the CIF State Track and Field Championships for the first time
It’s Tuesday afternoon at the Modesto Junior College track and two athletes are going through warmups.
There’s laughter and smiles before coach Morgan Gallegos gives them their workouts for the day.
For Gregori senior Briseida Garcia-Meza and sophomore Madison Kackley, they are both in unfamiliar territory — sort of.
Garcia-Meza and Kackley have qualified for the CIF State Track and Field Championships held at Buchanan High School in Clovis on Friday and Saturday. It will be their first appearances at the toughest event of the high school track season.
It’s not entirely uncharted territory as they both ran in the State Cross Country Championships last November.
“The biggest difference is the competition is a lot tougher for State for track than it was for cross country,” said Kackley, who finished in 12th in the Div. I cross country race. “It’s faster and going with the mile and two mile (races), it’s stressful with two races instead of one.”
Kackley and Garcia-Meza will run in Friday qualifiers after they both placed in the top three in their events at the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Meet last Saturday. Kackley finished second in the 1600 (5 minutes, 3 seconds) and will run in one of two heats at 5:30 p.m., while Garcia-Meza finished third in the 800 (2:16:15). Her race, one of three heats, starts at 7:40 p.m.
Kackley will run the 3200 on Saturday night, having qualified third at the Masters Meet in 10:56.
Garcia-Meza, who said the meet will be “very strenuous” with a lot of anxiety before her prelims race on Friday, said she is looking forward to her first experience.
This year has been one of redemption for Garcia-Meza, who has signed with St. Mary’s.
As a junior, she was one of the top 800 runners in the section and had just ran a 2:15 at the Stanford Invitational on March 31. During that race, she suffered a broken toe and her season was over.
She worked her way back and trained “twice” as hard to make up for lost time entering her senior year.
The results have shown: A personal record of 2:14 in the 800 and 4:56 in the 1600.
She was overcome with emotion after beating the fourth-place finisher by less than five-one-hundreths of a second at the Masters Meet.
“I pushed myself to my limits,” Garcia-Meza said. “I had that motivation to be stronger and be more focused.”
Already qualified in the 1600, Kackley said she had less stress in the 3200 at the Masters Meet.
“I wasn’t going to be upset for the 3200 as I was in the 1600 if I didn’t qualify,” Kackley said. “I wanted to go out and do what I can and see if I could make it.”
She did and qualifying for the 3200 was a “bonus” Kackley said.
She will run in the 3200 at 9:40 p.m. on Saturday.
“During State for cross country, it was really stressful just standing on the line before the race,” she said. “This weekend, I am going to try and calm myself and do what I have been preparing myself for the entire year and just have fun.”
Regardless of what happens this weekend, Kackley has already achieved her goals.
When she was named the Bee’s Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year in December, Kackley said she wanted to break five minutes in the 1600 and qualify for state.
Check and Check.
The race has been on Garcia-Meza’s mind all week.
In her last race, she went out in a blistering 27 seconds in her first 200 meters, which was too fast. She said she hopes to take a more conservative approach and make the best of the day. Reaching Clovis was satisfying enough.
“It’s a great accomplishment,” she said. “Going to State is the best feeling ever.”
Stanislaus District CIF State Track and Field Qualifiers