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Turlock’s Spaulding signs with Fresno State
Ella Spaulding
Ella Spaulding will remain a Bulldog, as the Turlock High track standout signs a letter of intent to attend Fresno State on a track and field scholarship (Photo contributed).

Ella Spaulding participated in volleyball, basketball and swimming during her career at Turlock High, and last year, as a junior, she decided to give track and field a try. 

Seems like a good decision.

Last week, the THS senior signed a letter of intent to attend Fresno State on a track and field scholarship.

One day after her signing ceremony, she helped the Bulldogs capture the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II girls championship at Bella Vista High School (Fair Oaks), winning the 300 hurdles (45.03) and then teaming with Ava Torres, Zoe Lamur and Olivia Walker to bring home the goal in the 4x400 relay. Spaulding also took third place in the 100 hurdles and the discus.

Not bad for somebody who took up the sport on a whim.

“I really loved volleyball, honestly and thought I’d play in college,” said the 5-foot-10 Spaulding. “But I didn’t love it as much as track. I really love track and that’s what made me happiest.”

Spaulding comes from an athletic family. Her father, Jarrod Spaulding, is a Turlock High grad who went on to play defensive end at Humboldt State and earned a spot in the school’s Hall of Fame. Her mother, Downey grad Dana Thiel, ran the 400 meters at Modesto Junior College and Stanislaus State.

Spaulding wants to give the heptathlon a try in college and has designs on becoming an optometrist. 

“I was thinking about becoming a pilot,” said Spaulding. “But I don’t really like driving, and that’s kind of the same thing, really.”

For now, her focus is on this weekend’s Master’s meet, where a top-three finish will earn her a trip to the state championships.

Oh, and there’s the little matter of the school record in the 300 hurdles. Right now, she’s .12 seconds off the mark set by Antonia Bethel in 2004.

“I think I can get it,” said Spaulding. “But right now the end goal is state.”