Just like any other high school sports team in America, the Turlock High track and field athletes and coaches meet up at the end of the season to announce team awards. This year, it was different for the Bulldogs.
Amid all the applause and speeches on Tuesday afternoon, three of the athletes — all female underclassmen — had a special label attached to them during the annual postseason get-together: Sac-Joaquin Section Masters qualifiers. The members of this exclusive group are pole vaulters Alexandria Agresti-Assali (junior) and Nicole Cipponeri (freshman) and freshman hurdler Mallory Patino.
It's the first time in about four years that the Bulldogs will take this many athletes to the Masters, coach Mike Brown said. The trio will make the trip to Hughes Stadium at Sacramento City College, with the two-day event starting Thursday.
“We have three girls make it to Masters, I'm hoping next year it'll feed off and see some of these kids step up because that's how you win league championships,” Brown said. “You gotta have leadership.”
The trip will also provide good experience for the young group, the coach said.
Agresti-Assali is returning to the Masters for the second consecutive time, as her personal best is 9 feet. She hopes to shatter that mark in the coming days.
“I'm familiar with it,” she said of the Masters meet, “and I hope I'll do better” than last season.
Cipponeri's personal best is also 9 feet, something she hopes to surpass at the prestigious event. Her fellow freshman teammate, Patino, is looking to top her 300-meter hurdles time of 48.88 seconds — one she set at the SJS Division I Championships.
“I want them to go up there and I want them to try to run the best race as they can,” Brown said. “If that's the personal best, that's really what you're hoping for as a coach. I just hope they go up there and they can have their personal best on that day, because these kids have worked so long and so hard.”
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