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Hughsons hot invitational: Turlocks girls handle the heat, take first
TC jump
A Turlock Christian Eagle leaps into the sandpit as a Bulldog and Yellowjacket observe during Saturdays Hughson Invitational. - photo by FRANKIE TOVAR / The Journal


The sun was out in full force on Saturday when 15 track teams gathered at Joe Debely Stadium for the Hughson Vintage Invitational. Athletes from Turlock, Denair, Hilmar, and Turlock Christian High were among those involved in Saturday’s competition as well as a number of junior high athletes from around the area.

“I thought the heat was going to be a problem,” Turlock’s girls head coach Mike Brown said.

“It almost seemed like they did better with the heat,” TC’s head coach Pam Franco said of her athletes. “Instead of running in cold, wet weather their muscles were warm. They didn’t like it but it was better for their performance.”

After a long day of being bathed in 90 degree sunrays Turlock’s girls emerged as the most accomplished team of the day, taking first place honors with seven different girls placing third or better in a variety of events.

“We got some really good girls and had a lot of them that (broke their personal records),” Brown said. “The kids are peaking.”

Cierra Booze earned first place finishes in the high jump, long jump, and triple jump while Joy Ndem took first in both the 200m and 400m races. Mallory Patino also earned a pair of first place finishes in the 100m hurdles and 300m hurdles.

Long distance runner Makenzie Salyer finished second in both the 1 mile and 2 mile events, and Misty Alexander finished third in the 100m hurdles and second in the 300m hurdles. Katrina Tate and Sarah Gemperle earned second place finishes in the triple jump and long jump, respectively. In addition to their individual performances, Ndem, Patino, Gemperle, Tate, Alexander, and Booze were also part of the 4x100m and 4x400m relay teams that finished in first place.

“We should qualify quite a few kids,” Brown said in regards to the upcoming Division I trials.

Turlock’s boys also turned out some impressive individual performances, but with half of the team out of the competition, the Bulldogs finished in fourth place as a team.

“If our boys would have been there we would have given Patterson (1st) a run for their money,” Brown said.

Among those who did show up were Denny Serpa who finished first in the long jump and triple jump, Logan Connor who finished first in the 300m hurdles and third in the 110m hurdles, Jake Eyre who finished third in the pole vault, Alec Nicolai with a third place finish in the 200m race, and Miles Uriquidez who finished third in the 1 mile event. Nicolai also joined Ty Hyer, Nikko Cassidy-Lopez, and Ryan Weaver in the 4x400m relay for which Turlock placed first.

The Bulldogs weren’t the only Turlock squad to impress on Saturday, however. The Eagles, who entered the invitational with three female athletes and four males, finished sixth as a team in the girls competition and ninth in the boys.

Standout Rebekah Muller placed second in the 200m and 400m races and third in the long jump, and Martin Moreda placed second in the 200m race.

“That was amazing,” Franco said of her team’s performances. “I think it shows how well our athletes have trained and all the effort they’ve put into this season.”

Other noteworthy performances include Denair’s Trey Howze who finished second in the high jump and third in the 300m hurdles and Hilmar’s John Baros who finished third in the high jump.