Since claiming the Southern Athletic League championship in 2012 for the first time in program history, Delhi High's boys track team has struggled to add another league title year to its banner. The Hawks have been in the running the past two years, but ultimately fell just short, and it seemed that would again be the case in 2015.
Through all four SAL meets this season Delhi finished second to Orestimba High. As the SAL Finals approached head coach Matt Cabral knew something had to be done to prevent another second place finish, so he devised a way to jump ahead of the Warriors by adding an event and shuffling his long-distance roster.
The plan paid off, and on Friday at the SAL Finals, Delhi again waved its banner as SAL champions.
“We had a couple of close call the last few years,” Cabral said. “I think the difference this year is we suddenly have a strong group of sophomores that are pretty diverse.”
It was the core of Delhi's sophomore class that was involved in the plan to overtake Orestimba. The first step of the plan involved sophomore Samuel Cortez and the pole vault, an event that has been virtually absent from SAL track competition in years past. Knowing that pole vault provided an opportunity to earn unclaimed points, the Hawks traveled south to Livingston High where they practiced the event. By the time the off-site pole vault competition for the SAL Finals had arrived Cortez and three other teammates were able to clear the opening height before Cortez upped the ante and cleared 8 feet, 7 inches to claim the SAL pole vault title.
“He's got a lot of characteristics, naturally, that I feel a pole vaulter requires,” Cabral said of Cortez, who had minimal training before winning the event. “He's a team player, too. He knew that was an event that could score some points for the team and he was willing to give it a shot.”
The second leg of Delhi's plan involved sophomore Andrew Vasquez, a long distance runner who typically competes in the 4x400m relay. Instead of racing as part of the 4x400 relay team on Friday, however, Vasquez was tasked with running both the 1600m and the 3200m which he promptly won, exponentially increasing Delhi's points total.
But while Cortez and Vasquez were part of a late-season plan to win, the Hawks' victory was still founded on consistency.
Sophomore Chance Browning rounded out Delhi's individual championships with a pair of league titles in the long jump and triple jump while senior Garret Thomas played the role of renaissance man and placed second in four separate events — triple jump, discus, 200m and 4x100m relay.
“Garret is going to be really hard to replace. You don't see too many athletes who are scoring points in the throws and then the jumps and the sprints. He's so well rounded,” Cabral said. “He scored 32 points for us alone.”
When the dust cleared on Friday Delhi had won the league title by 55 points and qualified 16 athletes for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV/V Championship Trials at California State University, Stanislaus.
Division IV/V Championship Trials- Day One
Thomas and the 4x400m relay team of Alejandro Contreras, Scorpio Martinez, Arnold Perez and Brendan Hagood had the best finishes of all the Hawks on Tuesday. Both placed 22nd overall with Thomas' finish coming in the 100m. Thomas will compete again on Thursday in the triple jump alongside teammate Browning, Raji Kaur and Arnold Perez. Hagood will run the 1600m, Vasquez will run both the 1600m and 3200m, and Miguel Calles, Robert Diers and Cortez will compete in the pole vault. Jennifer Jimmenez will also compete on Thursday in the girls triple jump.