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Eight to state: Turlock, Pitman athletes win big at SJS Masters
track masters Siebert
Qualifying for the state meet in multiple events at Saturday’s Sac-Joaquin Section Masters meet was Pitman senior sprinter Blayne Siebert, who took first place in the 100 and 200-meter races (Photo courtesy of StanCo Distance).

The city of Turlock will be well represented at Buchanan High School’s Veterans Memorial Stadium in Clovis this weekend for the 104th California Interscholastic Federation State High School Track and Field Championships, as eight student-athletes from Turlock and Pitman high schools punched their tickets at Saturday’s Sac-Joaquin Section Masters meet at Davis High School.

Qualifying for the state meet in multiple events was Pitman senior sprinter Blayne Siebert and Turlock seniors Shaylan Roy-Williams and Olivia Walker. 

Siebert solidified himself as one of the fastest runners in the state by dominating the competition in the 100 and 200-meter races despite suffering a fractured left elbow after the SJS Divisionals last week. While his arm was compromised, his legs worked just fine.

track masters Roy-Williams
Qualifying for the state meet in multiple events at Saturday’s Sac-Joaquin Section Masters meet was Turlock senior Shaylan Roy-Williams, who took first lace in the long jump and was part of the winning 4x400 relay team and second place finishing 4x100 relay team (Photo courtesy of StanCo Distance).

In the 100, he blazed to a 10.47 second finish, just .01 seconds off his own school record that also happens to be the best time in the section this season. In the 200, he came from behind on the straightaway to pass Twelve Bridges runner Anthony Gallagher en route to a 21.75 second finish, besting Gallagher by .15 seconds.

“It means so much to me because this was my goal since last year,” said Siebert, who missed out on the state meet last year after a sixth-place finish at Masters a year ago, a result that he contributed to nerves.

“I didn’t even know if I could run at Masters, but I ran anyway because this is my last chance at state. It means so much because I have fought injuries all year I’m not letting them stop me,” he continued, referring to a sports hernia he has dealt with for most of the season.

Roy-Williams stood atop the podium in the long jump competition with a first place distance of 18-04.5. It will be her second time competing in long jump at the state meet. Last season, she did not advance to the Saturday final despite a leap of 17-0 1/4 . 

“I’m really excited for this weekend,” she said. “I know the competition can be good, but I know I can hang with it now, so I’m just hoping to put on a good showing.”

Roy-Williams was also a member of the 4x400 relay team alongside Walker, fellow senior Ava Torres and junior Zoe Lamur that took first place with a time of 3:53.62, a group record that bested the 3:55.44 mark set last week at Divisionals. 

“We’ve been getting better and better every year,” said Lamur, who has been a member of the 4x400 team since her freshman year. “It’s amazing to see how much we grow.”

Individually, Walker placed second in the 400-meter dash with a time of 55.41 seconds. She was just .03 seconds off first place finisher Ihe Okoh of Franklin (Elk Grove). Nevertheless, Walker’s time marked a school record. Friday will mark her third time participating in the state meet.

track masters Walker
Qualifying for the state meet in multiple events at Saturday’s Sac-Joaquin Section Masters meet was Turlock senior Olivia Walker, who placed second in the 400-meter dash and was part of the winning 4x400 relay team and the second place finishing 4x100 relay team (Photo courtesy of StanCo Distance).

“My sophomore year was the first time going to state, and it was all very eye-opening. My junior year, I qualified in two events (400-meter and 4x400 relay) and I just didn’t get as far as I would have liked. This year, I knew this was my last chance to go to state, so I just wanted to make the best out of it.”

Walker, Roy-Williams, senior Evelyn Ladine and junior Angel Trefry Bet George represented the Bulldogs in the 4x100 relay, where they placed second with a time of 47:66 — .33 seconds behind the Christian Brothers relay squad.

“It’s a super big deal,” Ladine said of her team’s effort Saturday. “I knew we were fast, but I didn’t know we were that fast.”

“It’s been really fun to be a part of,” added Trefry Bet George, who is only in her second year competing in track. “I’ve just been proving to myself that I can do it (contribute to the relay team), so it’s been a great experience.”

Also returning to the state meet this year will be pole vaulter Maxwell McFarlane, who clinched the top spot at the Masters by a full three inches with his leap of 16-03. While it may seem he won comfortably, the winning leap came at a time in which he was trailing the eventual runner-up, Michael Payan of Whitney. He also had to make the jump with a bigger pole that he is used to.

“There was definitely some pressure there. Michael is a really good jumper and if I wouldn’t have cleared that last bar, I’m in second. Plus, being on a really big pole that I’ve never been on was honestly pretty terrifying,” he said with a laugh.

To ease his nerves, he turned to his teammates clapping so they could pump him up.

He looks to avenge a runner-up finish from a season ago, where his 16-02 leap wasn’t enough to best the 16-6 of Buchanan’s Hilton Green. McFarlane, though, believes this year’s field of competitors is much harder.

“This year will be way harder to win state. Last year, it was just me and Hilton… Now, I know there’s a lot more guys up there at this height,” he said. “I just gotta be confident. Most of the time this year when I didn’t jump very high, it was because I wasn’t confident and was worrying about other events I was competing in like the high jump. This year, I’m focused on making a good run, good jumps. In other years, I’ve been competing against the opponents. This year, I’m going to compete against the bar. Not worrying about what other guys are doing, but what I can do.”

The state meet will kick off with qualifying on Friday. Gates to Veterans Memorial Stadium will open to the public at 2 p.m. with field events getting underway at 3 p.m. and running events taking place at 5 p.m. Gates will open at 3:30 p.m. on Championship Saturday, with field events slated for 4:30 p.m. and running finals set for 5:45 p.m.

The price of general admission Friday will be $12. For students with a valid school ID, children 5+ and senior citizens 65+, the price is $7. There will be a slight bump for Saturday’s finals, as general admission is $14 and $8 for students, children and seniors.

“It’s going to be sad that this is all going to come to an end soon.” Walker added. “We just need to have fun, make it count but not stress ourselves out too much and appreciate everything track has given us. This last meet, whatever happens, won’t define us and everything we’ve done and accomplished. We’ll have fun doing this one last time.”