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Hilmar, Turlock earn experience at Masters
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SACRAMENTO - Potential. Perspective. Upside. Those words were used as part of a common theme for the local track and field athletes represented at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Meet on Thursday. A collection of underclassmen from Turlock High and Hilmar High traveled to compete at Hughes Stadium at Sacramento City College in front of hundreds of spectators.
Even though their marks weren't enough to move on to the CIF State Championships next week, all the local athletes earned invaluable experience for the upcoming seasons.
Among the athletes representing their schools at the preliminary rounds was Turlock's Mallory Patino, a 300-meter girls hurdler. At the end of her heat, Patino - one of only four freshmen competing in the event of 24 racers - finished ahead of one runner with an official time of 50.64 seconds.
"I feel like I could have done better," said Patino, who had limited time to prepare for the meet while fighting a cold last week, which might explain why she was unable to top her personal best time of 48.88. "I'm just glad to be here as a freshman."
Patino's hurdlers coach, Dee Gilmore, shared a similar enthusiasm over having a freshman qualify for the Masters.
"I was very impressed with (Patino), considering she's a freshman," Gilmore said. "Probably the most valuable experience that she gets out of this is that it's a major confidence-builder because she's competing with some of the best and now she knows what it's going to take to get back here next year."
Also representing the Bulldogs was pole vaulter Nicole Cipperoni. The sophomore cleared a mark of 9 feet, 3 inches, eclipsing her qualifying height of 8-5 and her personal record of 9-0.
Junior Alexandria Assali-Agresti - Cipperoni's pole-vaulting teammate - was not as fortunate. In her second consecutive appearance at the Masters, Assali-Agresti did not clear her attempt on Thursday.
In the girls triple jump, sophomore Isamar Millan, the lone Hilmar representative, posted her best effort of the day with a mark of 32 feet, 5 1/2 inches. Although Millan came up  more than a foot short of topping her personal best, she was quick to dedicate herself to making new goals for herself in the next couple of years.
"I'm proud to have made it here," she said. "I never thought of trying to get a scholarship for running track, but now it's something that I'm going to work for."
The local athletes definitely have time to progress.
Turlock's Patino is just a freshman, meaning she has three more tries at making the Masters cut. Turlock's Cipperoni and Hilmar's Millan are both sophomores. And Turlock's Assali-Agresti has a chance next season to be a three-time qualifier.
All four have aspirations of repeat success in the coming years.
"Perspective is a big word that we've used a lot today," said Millian's coach, Clement Labrouche. "Out of all the kids that do track from all the divisions, we're here and it's really a humbling experience."