Coaches can often be heard preaching to their athletes about the importance of details. “It’s the little things that count” — a common cliché in high school athletics, but true all the same. On Saturday, during the SAL Track Finals at Joe Debely Stadium, several teams learned this truth firsthand and, for one team in particular, it meant the difference between second place and a championship.
“We were definitely expecting first place but we had a hiccup in one of our events that cost us the championship,” Turlock Christian’s head coach Pam Franco said of her girls team.
The Lady Eagles finished Saturday’s track meet in second place, one point behind first place Denair High. During the 200m race, one of TC’s runners forgot to remove her earrings and, after telling race officials, was promptly disqualified from the event. It was a costly mistake.
“She knew it was the right thing to do, to tell the officials,” Franco said. “I’m proud of her and so proud of my team.”
Notable TC performances included Rebekah Muller’s first place finishes in the 400m, long jump, and triple jump, Emily Retemeyer’s first place finish in the 200m, Alisson Ulrich’s pair of first place finishes in the 300m hurdles and pole vault, and Tiffany Franco’s first place throw in the discus.
“It was going back and forth pretty much all meet,” Denair’s head coach Jim Wagner said. “They definitely put in the work. The girls are really excited.”
Denair’s SAL championship win is the first since 1984. Key first place performances from Ciera Jantz in the high jump and Theresa Martinez in the shot put helped the Coyotes edge out their competition in the final league track meet of the season. Jantz also joined Brigette Burgess, Rosy Yanez, and Nella Varni in the 4x100m relay race that saw Denair claim first place.
In the boys division, Denair finished in second place and TC finished in fourth as Delhi High claimed its first SAL track championship by a wide margin.
“Delhi had a really tough team this year with a lot of good athletes,” said Wagner. “Second place is nothing to be ashamed about.”
Denair’s Trey Howze claimed first place in the 110m and 300m hurdles and took second in the high jump as his teammates Quentin Allen and Juan De La Cruz took first in the 1600m and high jump, respectively.
As for TC, Martin Moreda continued his streak of victories with a first place finish in the 100m, 200m, and 400m races.
The Coyotes’ and Eagles’ season isn’t over, not for a handful of their athletes at least. TC will be taking nine of its 19 athletes to sub-sections. Moreda, Seth Retemeyer, Casey Franco, Noah Tarry, Sina Rashidi, Emily Retemeyer, Ulrich, Muller, and Franco will represent the Eagles.
“That’s an incredible amount of kids going to sections for such a small team,” Franco said.
Denair will have four representatives, Allen, Howze, Brookelyn Lowery and Andrew Sweeten.