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Pitman, Turlock track athletes leave field dead even
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Pitmans Isaac Gonzalez and Turlocks Miles Urquidez run shoulder to shoulder during the 1600m race on Wednesday. - photo by FRANKIE TOVAR / The Journal

It was windy and cold when Turlock and Pitman high met on the track of Joe Debely Stadium on Wednesday. In their first and only head to head meet of the season the Bulldogs and Pride competed neck and neck in nearly every event as their athletes vied for personal bests and a team victory.

While some provided exceptional individual performances there were no team victories at the end of the day. Both squads from both schools finished with 68 points for an overall tie.

“It was a crazy, crazy meet,” Turlock’s boys head coach Ryan Hollister said.

The girls from Turlock and Pitman had tied once before, in 2007, but Wednesday was the first time the boys’ squads tied and the first time the schools finished a meet with an overall tie.

“Our guys were disappointed,” Hollister said. “We’ve never beat Pitman before and to be that close is just disappointing.”

Turlock’s boys (0-1-1 CCC) dominated the sprinting events while Pitman’s boys (1-0-2 CCC) swept the throwing events. As the meet neared its end Turlock found itself down by five points with one race to go, the 4x400m relay. The Bulldog team pulled through under pressure, winning the event by six seconds while keeping the Pride out of the win column.

“We thought it was going to be pretty close because of our top two finishes at the county meet,” Pitman’s head coach Thad Moren said. “Ties don’t happen that often but we’ve tied twice this year.”

Turlock’s Jevon Hogan recorded a personal best in the 100m event with a time of 10.97 while Ron Barton came out on top in the pole vault with a height of 12 feet, 6 inches. Pitman’s Sean Donnelly’s performance in the discus event was not only a personal best bust also a section qualifying performance as he hurled the discus 159 feet, 8 inches. Donnelly also finished first in the shot put. Other notable Pride performances came from Skyler Sexton who swept the jumping events and Isaac Gonzales who took the 1600m and 3200m races.

The competition between Turlock’s girls (0-1-1 CCC) and Pitman’s girls (2-0-1 CCC) also came down to the final event, the pole vault. Unlike the boys’ competition, Pitman found itself down as Lindsey Phillips battled with the veteran Bulldog Nicole Cipponeri to decide the meet’s outcome. Phillips and Cipponeri both cleared the height of 8 feet, 6 inches, but because Phillips had no failed attempts she took the win and secured the tie.

“We knew we had to win in order to tie,” Moren said. “It was kind of unexpected really.”

Pitman suffered from the absence of standout Kelsey Derr in both the long jump and 300m hurdles. After taking first in the 100m hurdles and helping the 4x100m relay team take first, Derr was plagued with back pain which forced her to the sidelines.

“We were counting on her winning the long jump and the hurdles,” Moren said. “Those extra points could have given us the win.”

Turlock and Pitman won’t see each other on the track again until the League Championship Meet later in the season. Before then, the Bulldogs and Pride will compete in three more league duals. Turlock will next face Buhach Colony High, while Pitman will face Atwater High.