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SAL athletes shine at first league meet
Denair's Trey Howze grabs gold in hurdles, high jump
SAL track pic1
Renee Guerra sprints down the track ahead of a teammate and an opposing Coyote during a 100m race at Saturdays Southern Athletic League meet. - photo by FRANKIE TOVAR / The Journal

The Southern Athletic League soaked in the sun on Saturday in its first league meet of the season. Denair, Delhi, and Turlock Christian High had several outstanding performers on both the track and on the field in what was the first true test of the year for many of their athletes.

The Hawks, defending SAL champs, entered the meet with few of its athletes competing at the varsity level as they catered to their youth in an attempt to develop rather than dominate.

“I have a really young team and I wanted to try them out and get them a little confidence,” Delhi coach Matt Cabral said. “I’ll be moving at least four kids up to varsity by next meet, though.”

Of those that did compete at the varsity level, Dylan Price and Ryan Saavedra walked away as the only two Hawks at the top of their events. Price earned first place finishes in both the long and triple jump while Saavedra muscled his way to the top of the discus standings. Hector Jimenez also had a good day as he finished second in the 400m.

In addition to having many of its athletes at the junior varsity level, Delhi had to overcome several injuries which affected its relay team and short distance events. Rene Guerra, Fernando Nuno, Rafael Barajas, Jose Martinez, and Miguel Calles are expected to be bumped up to varsity by the next SAL meet.

“We have two weeks off so I definitely expect to get them up and the team healthy by then,” Cabral said.

TC also had a limited roster to work with but still managed to come out on top in a couple events. Dante Barron and Carlos Ordaz finished first in the 400m and shot put, respectively. Barron also earned a second place finish in the long jump, a third place finish in the 200m, and a fourth place finish in the 100m while Ordaz finished sixth in the discus.

“In one day he went from never doing the long jump to an 18 foot jump. It was impressive,” TC coach Chris Pugh said of Barron.

Jared Zuniga finished second in the 110m hurdles and fourth in the 300m hurdles while Malik Portillo finished fourth in the 100m. No Lady Eagles were present at the meet.

“I think we did well considering we only had one person with track experience competing,” Pugh said. “We were pretty excited about the results because we’re essentially starting from scratch.”

Without question, however, Denair walked away with the day’s best performance as a team. Quentin Allen, Patrick Dudley, Everett Wagner, and Conner Sousa claimed first in the 4x100m relay to help set the tone for the rest of their teammates. Allen added a second place 200m and a third place 100m finish to his efforts and Vandon Weaver earned a pair of first place finished in the 1600m and 3200m. The most accomplished Coyote was Trey Howze, though, who placed first in both the 110m and 300m hurdles, first in the high jump, and fourth in the 3200m.

“We did excellent; better than I expected,” Denair coach Jim Wagner said. “I was very pleased with all the results.”

The Lady Coyotes also had success on Saturday as the team of Samantha Watts, Ciera Jantz, Samantha McVeigh, and Bridgette Burgess also claimed first in the 4x100m relay. Watts also placed first in the 110m and 300m hurdles in addition to a second place finish in the 100m. Jantz placed first in the high jump and finished fourth in the 100m while Burgess claimed second in the high jump. Other notable performances included Theresa Martinez’ first place finish in the shot put and Catie Bailey’s first place finish in the 800m and third place finish in the 1600m.

“They’re the fastest girls I’ve had,” Wagner said of his group.

“I knew we were going to be strong but I was surprised with some of the individual performances,” he added.

The next SAL meet will take place on March 23 at Turlock High.