Small-school track teams made it happen at this year's Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV/V Championships, specifically Hilmar and Delhi High who exited the final day of the two-day competition at California State University, Stanislaus on Thursday with a combined five qualifiers for next week's SJS Masters Championships.
Four Yellowjackets — Dani Olson, Hudson Harris, Angelique Souza and Kenzye Spears — and one Hawk — Garret Thomas — earned the right to compete across all division at Elk Grove High next Thursday with strong hurdling, long-distance and jumping performances.
“It was one of our best showings,” Hilmar head coach Clement Labrouche said.
Hilmar enters next week's SJS Masters Trials with five events on its docket as Olson will be competing in the 100m hurdles and the 300m hurdles after finishing second and third on Thursday, respectively. Olson was also slated to run the 200m, but after clipping her ankle on the second hurdle in the 300m race she opted to withdraw from the 200m with Masters in mind.
“She had the lead, tweaked her ankle, she kind of struggled for the rest of the race and wound up finishing third,” Labrouche said.
Harris finished second in the 300m and clocked a personal best of 40:14 while teammate Spears also earned a personal best, and school record, in the 1600m with a time of 4:29:09 good enough for fourth place.
“I'm really happy for him,” Labrouche said of Spears. “I contacted the old record holder afterward; He was very congratulatory. A 40-year-old record broken, it's pretty cool.”
Souza also placed fourth in her event, clearing 5'1” in the high jump.
“There were tears of joy that she made it,” Labrouche said.
“There's always one or two, but never four. Not bad for little old Hilmar,” he added.
Delhi shared a similar sentiment after Thursday's competition, emerging with the first Masters qualifier under head coach Matt Cabral's tenure after Thomas placed fifth in the triple jump.
“Season after season, the Southern League in general seems to struggle in the Division 4/5 Trials,” Cabral said. “He was one place away from getting a medal, but we'll take it.”
Thomas qualified on his sixth and last attempt, hitting a mark of 42'1.5” after scratching on his very first attempt. Though Thomas was forced to sit out of jumping and sprinting events last season due to injury, Cabral feels confident in his chances at Masters based on his natural ability.
“He still holds the record at Hilmar Middle School for the triple jump,” Cabral said. “He's jumped here and there as a freshman and a sophomore, and we knew he was capable of it because he's a very powerful athlete, but he had to take some time off due to various injuries.”
“We're excited and hopefully we can build on this in years to come,” he added.