The 2015 has the potential to be the best season to date for the track and field teams of Turlock and Pitman highs. While the Bulldogs will be looking for a redemptive year, the Pride will aim for a repeat.
Turlock had a tough time last season competing with a limited number of student-athletes at the varsity level and finished in the bottom half on both the boys and girls side.
“I think both sides have a very good chance to win league this year. We have more depth than we have had in a long time,” said Turlock head coach JoAnn Davison.
The Lady Pride captured their sixth consecutive Central California Conference title in 2014, while the boys topped out in fourth place.
“The girls should do well to start off ... we hope it carries into league because we did well in the league meet last year,” said Pitman head coach Thad Moren. “Our team goal is to do well in those meets but we want to keep pushing these kids to see if we can get them on to the next level, which is State.”
With a new season the Lady Pride are eager to keep their winning ways intact for a team led by second-year varsity athlete Sydney Holmes.
Holmes, who barely began competing in track and field last season as a junior, said that her previous skills acquired in gymnastics made the transition that much smoother as she excelled on the track in every event she competed.
In her first year, she went on to compete at Master's in the long and high jump events as well as in the 300 meter hurdles.
“We lost key seniors, but I know the juniors are really stepping up and we have freshmen and sophomores as well that will be trying to help this team,” Holmes said. “And everybody is working hard, I think we will do very well.”
Besides Holmes, the Pride welcome back Lindsey Phillips, Jamie Stroup, Lauren Cariaso and jumper Cailie Fuentes.
The boys lost three key runners but welcome and return more than a few key athletes.
Josh Fletcher returns for his second year at the varsity level in only his second year in high school.
Also up and coming tri-athlete Isaiah Marable looks to make an impact as a pole vaulter at the varsity level as a sophomore, which would mark his third varsity sport played for the year.
“We have some juniors and sophomores right now that have done great training already and will make an impact,” Moren said of the boys. “The sophomore boys will do very well for us.”
Senior Chaise Schroer will be one of the veteran returners for the Pride, competing in over five events, including the 4x4 relay and both hurdle races.
“So far we are stronger as a team and we are improving dramatically,” said Schroer.
Turlock has eagerly awaited the start of the spring so it could showcase a new arsenal and depth for the year.
Head coach Davison knows that last year's team, despite having talented athletes, was limited due to the small number. But this season, it is nothing but optimism as the head coach's enthusiasm is through the roof.
“It is kind of neat to see,” she said. “It's already looking better than last season because we have the depth now...this group are team first, whatever the coach and team needs, they will do anything we ask of them."
The boys return the likes of Justin Serpa, Fernando Rodriguez, Bryan Montes and Ryan Weaver amongst the larger group than last year.
“The boys have put in their work themselves in the offseason to be ready to go and as opposed to last year when some boys came in without the conditioning ready for it,” said first year boys head coach Jeff Khomari. “We will be improved from last year and the guys are ready to compete.”
Not only do the Bulldogs expect to be competitive, but coach Davison expects for the team to compete for a league title on both sides and believes she will have the team to do so.
The girls welcome a large number of competitors in Erin Knopp-Sargoni, Ashtyn Nichols, Jessica Bettencourt, Cassandra Derdivanis, Raveena Samra and Makenzie Salyer.
“In almost every area we have the maturity and the young crew that will be super competitive,” Davison said. “Just better than last year is a goal and first in league is a huge possibility, whatever it takes, I think the kids want to win and it's about time, we're due.”
“The team are a great group of kids. Attitude wise they are not cocky, they know when it's time to perform they are ready to roll,” Khomari. “They make it easy to come out and work with them, just a great group of people overall.”
The Stanislaus County Championships will take place at Joe Debely on Saturday at a time yet to be determined.