By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Pitman, Turlock track teams advance five to State
Pitman High track pic1
The Pitman High 4x1 relay team of (left to right), Michael Moore, Quincey Williams, Colby Vierra and Denzel Steckwren became the first relay team from Pitman to qualify for state after placing third at Masters (Photo contributed by Thad Moren).

Turlock and Pitman high saw a number of standout performances at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Meet from Davis High in Davis that will see five track and field athletes move on to the CIF State Meet.

Turlock’s Silas Fredeen advanced to the state meet for the second consecutive year in pole vault after a record-breaking season.

“We qualified 25 athletes to Master’s. That’s the most we have ever qualified as a team. It takes a team of coaches to do what we did,” said Turlock head coach Bergann Hernandez. “We have coaches that love this team and love track and field. It takes all of us together, athletes and coaches, to make this happen. The plan from the beginning of the season was to make it to State. So, qualifying that many athletes, that was exactly what we needed to do.”

Pitman’s 4x1 relay team became the first relay team in Pride history to reach State after a third-place result at Master’s from Michael Moore, Quincey Williams, Colby Vierra and Denzel Steckwren.

“They been working really well. We had some changes over the season, moving people around, trying to find the right spot,” said Pitman head coach Thad Moren. “…we probably had six different configurations of the team this year and kind of settled with these four in the last two months.”

They are on the cusp of a record-breaking time.

“They are getting ready to break the school record; they could do it at the State meet. School record is 42.38 and we ran 42.50,” said Moren.

“I knew we were going places because I worked with Quincey and Michael since freshman and sophomore year, so I knew we would go somewhere,” said Vierra. “But these guys aren’t just my fellow runners, they are my best friends. We knew we would go higher, but to this level, we were really hyped about it.”

The relay team only continued to progress and it didn’t come without a few hiccups and injuries that delayed the process that really only started to pick up speed about two months ago said Moren.

“If I was asked a month ago if I would be here, I am not sure because I have struggled with hamstring injuries on both legs,” said Moore. “I am truly proud and happy to have these guys as my teammates because they brought me up and tell me to keep stretching and keep on pushing. They really helped…I am thankful for them and I am going to miss them because I am the only junior, they are seniors, so they will all be gone next year, but I am glad they are my teammates. I love those guys.”

The four clocked in at 42.90 in this past Saturday’s Master’s Meet in heavy rain and windy conditions.

“I had to make the Master’s race one of the best of my life and despite the rain and everything, the conditions,” said Moore. “I felt it was one of my better races, starting off with that stagger, catching up with Monterey Trail and St. Mary’s, I had to close the gap, that was one thing I had to do. I think I did that very well and I told my teammates we had to make it the best race of our lives and now we are going to State.”

“The setting was not nice, it was definitely raining and there was some wind, but with this team, since sophomore year we’ve been able to bond and I think that helps,” said Williams. “Michael, Colby and myself, we’ve been able to get practice in the past three years so we are comfortable with each other and dependable running in those events and with Denzel being a great addition to the team this year. The weather was a factor but, in the end, that strong bond we have with each other was a factor and helpful.”

And now the three and Steckwren are hoping that breaking the school record time at State could help close out one of the more memorable seasons for the program.

“At the beginning of the year I wasn’t sure if I would be part of this team because I knew I wasn’t one of the faster runners, but I kept working at it throughout the year and we knew we could be one of the best if we kept working and improving,” Steckwren added. “Obviously I am excited, especially making history; I am excited.”

“Big goal for the team was to reach State so at this point, being known as one of the best in the SJS, we definitely will give it our all,” Williams added. “Now we will see if we will break that school record one last time because three of us being seniors, we want to get that last good memory of doing well and moving forward would be great.”

Turlock has 17 athletes of the 25 who qualified for Master’s returning for next season and coach Hernandez is thrilled.

“We need to make a couple tweaks on our post plans for the next season but each season we get better and stronger and that is exciting,” said Hernandez. “I’m so pleased with the fight and dedication these athletes had from the very beginning. Focusing on a goal that’s months away is hard to do. But they did it and competed so well with PRs and great races to finish the season.”

Only Fredeen advances for the Bulldogs after tying Lodi’s Samuel Wright with a jump of 15 feet, 6 inches.

“Silas is a great athlete. His strongest asset is his consistency,” said Hernandez. “Early in the season we sat down and set goals and talked about the plan and then went to work. He stayed consistent in hunting down his goals. We called it ‘the road to the podium.’ Last season he made it to State and made it to finals. This season the goal is the podium. But it took a lot of commitment to the process and work to get here. He is also consistent in his jumps. He is such a strong competitor. We have a few more things that need to happen to get to the goal but we are on the way there.”

Fredeen cleared 16 feet this year along with teammate and best friend Nathan Garibay.

This has them both tied for fifth in California.

“I have loved coaching these two from the beginning. I didn’t know when we started that he would get to State once and now we are going for a second time,” Hernandez added. “We won the first-ever boys and girls CCAL Championships. Our boys team got runners up at the section meet. We broke five school records this season. Many of these records stood for many years. Nathan Garibay and Silas Fredeen broke the boys (pole vault) record. Sarah Romo broke my sister’s pole vault record. Kylee Redman broke the girls 100 and 200 records. And our girls 4 x 100 broke their record a couple times. We got so close to multiple others. Be on the lookout next season, it’s going to be another record-breaking season with almost all of our record breakers returning.”

Top small schools athletes fell short of advancing.

Hilmar sophomore Cole Bailey placed 20th in the long jump and was one of just three sophomores in the top 20.

“Cole competed on Saturday with the crazy weather. First jump was 19 feet seven but then fouled the next two attempts and didn't move to finals,” said Hilmar head coach Clement Labrouche. “A learning experience for him. He had a record-breaking year for Hilmar, won an individual section event, and knows what it'll take to go to the next level.”

Frank Pereira failed to advance into the finals for discus.

“Frank competed on Friday and didn't make finals. He had been sick the whole week, and though his throws were OK they weren’t his best and it wasn't enough to move on. Frank had a great season and was one of Hilmar’s most successful throwers in the last 20 years,” Labrouche added.

Denair’s Steffin Winston jumped three feet under his PR in the triple jump and placed 11th, failing to advance into the finals.

The CIF State Meet is slated to take place from Buchanan High School in Clovis at 3 p.m. Friday through Saturday.