The Southern Athletic League track and field championships took place at Mariposa High Wednesday afternoon under the bright, hot summer sun with temperatures close to the triple digit mark.
Delhi, Denair and Turlock Christian High participated in the event, enduring the heat as each chased aspirations of divisional qualification and individual personal records. For Denair and Delhi, the day also brought the chance of an overall league championship.
When it was all said and done, Denair’s boys earned the right to be called SAL champions for the second consecutive year as they ousted Delhi in the second half of the meet to notch a 126 to 116 win. The Denair girls team finished third and the Delhi girls team took fourth.
"I was pretty confident, but I knew it was going to be close," Denair head coach Jim Wagner said. "I am very proud of these boys and the overall team this year."
The Coyotes’ consistency proved to be the difference as they fended off the challenging Hawks with six first-place finishes and six second or third place finishes in the boys division. The girls placed top three in five events across the board.
"We did place in a lot of events pretty high, but it seemed like it came down to the second half of the meet. It is nice to finish second," Delhi head coach Matt Cabral said.
The Delhi boys finished with seven first place finishes and placed first in both the 4x100 and 4x400 meter relay races. The girls only had two representatives, but Sarah Cruz topped out with 11 points.
In the 4x100 relay run, Delhi's Francisco Rodriguez, Rene Guerra, Hayden Steger and Phillip Rodriguez made up the team that clinched a tight, two-second victory.
"We won the relays very decisively, but it did come down to the wire," said Cabral. "It is somewhat an individual sport but the fact that our kids were disappointed with not pulling the team victory shows the character."
Also for the Delhi boys in the field events, Garret Thomas finished in second place in the discus with a 112 feet, 1 inch throw as his best for the day.
Turlock Christian had only three boys and five girls participating, all of whom also compete in other sports such as softball, soccer and baseball.
"I think it is really good because everybody on our team plays another sport and they come to track practice after they finish their other sport. They are really committed and hard workers," TC head coach Chris Pugh said.
The highlight of the day for the Eagles was the varsity girls 4x100 meter relay team that consisted of Cassie Balswick, Mikayla Yagi, Abi Bawcum and Meghan Mark, who managed to top out in second place with a personal record time of 58.84.
"The girls cut off a second from their time as well, they had their best time thus far. It was very good, very good and I think they did a great job with the challenges they had to deal with, very proud of them," Pugh added.
Amongst other top performances from the Eagles was Bawcum's third place finish in the shot put after striking a distance of 24 feet, 11 inches.
"Abi is a really hard worker, especially after coming off the ankle injury, and so she focused more on shot put and not so much running, except the relay and she should really be able to do well and has a great chance to make it far next year," said Pugh.
Delhi, Denair and possibly Turlock Christian will send a handful of players to the divisional trials meet, which will take place at CSU Stanislaus on Tuesday with the finals being held on Thursday.