Turlock and Pitman High kicked off track season on Friday by going the distance, joining 16 other high schools at Joe Debely Stadium for the Pitman Distance Wars. But while only a handful of each team’s track competitors actually saw action on Friday, their respective rosters—sprinters, jumpers, and throwers—were in attendance to cheer their teammates on.
The enthusiasm of the athletes was a reflection of the enthusiasm of their coaches who see a new season as a new opportunity to light up the track.
For Pitman’s boys, the season’s prospects revolve around a core of four seniors. With Aaron Mayfield and Isaac Gonzales returning in the long distance game, Chance Hagar returning in the pole vault, and Aaron Lusher returning for the throws, the Pride are expecting big things from their boys.
“Those four senior boys are going to be the heart and soul of our team,” Pitman coach Thad Moren said. “Three of the four hold school records.”
Gonzalez holds the Pitman record for the 1600 and 3200, Hagar hold the school record for pole vault, and Lusher holds the school record for shot put.
“He competed this year in the indoor state meet already, down in Fresno, and he medaled there,” Moren said of Hagar. “He had a vault earlier in the indoor season where he went 15-feet-8-inches, and 15-8 is almost top 20 all-time in or section. So we’re looking for big things from him.”
Turlock’s boys are also in a position of confidence as they return short-distance runners Jevan Hogan and Brian Weaver, along with jumpers Justin Serpa and Fernando Rodriguez and their top discus thrower from last year in Hayden Roberts.
The Bulldogs also return their entire distance crew, who took second in the Central California Conference last season, which is headed up by Rex Doo.
“It’s going to be an amazing year for men’s track this year. We have a serious shot at league,” Turlock coach JoAnne Davison said. “I think across the board, with Weaver and Hogan on sprints and on distance with Rex and the gang, I think we’re going to surprise some people.”
As for the girls, both Turlock and Pitman are fielding a number of top competitors across multiple events.
The Lady Bulldogs return with Cierra Booze, who made it to the finals of Masters last year in jumps, and Mackenzie Salyer, an all-conference distance runner.
“She’s picked up where she left off last year, she’s looking really good,” Davison said of Booze.
Turlock will also enjoy the talents of Jocelyn Montes, Emily Romo, and Amy de la Ray while looking for key contributions from freshman hurdler Jessica Bettencourt.
“We don’t have the numbers for girls, but the girls we do have are top of the league and look to be top in the section,” Davison said.
Pitman’s girls, who are coming off a CCC championship, will be headed by Mackenzie Hassett in distance running, Terri Gallon in the high jump, and Lindsey Phillips in the pole vault. The Pride’s short-distance runners will also be a factor in their success as senior Claire Littlefield welcomes freshman hopefuls such as Maddie Todd, Cerah Moren, and Serena Anderson.
“I’ve kind of lost track how many years in a row we’ve won it (league title). We lost Kelsee Derr, but that was it. We had a really strong junior class last year and now they’re back as seniors,” Moren said. “The strength of our varsity girls team will be in a group of jumpers and sprinters. We’re reloading and looking for some big things from the girls this year.”
Next week will see the entire field of competitors from Turlock and Pitman compete in the Stanislaus County Meet which will be held at Joe Debely on Friday.