Oakdale Track And Field
Coach: Dave Bacigalupi (eighth season)
Key Returning Athletes: Boys - SR Marco Camacho (throws), SR Daniel Linder (sprints/jumps). Girls - SR Sara Aguayo (hurdles), JR Justina Keith (jumps, hurdles), SO Me’che Brown (sprints), JR Domi Powell (jumps), SR Jaylene Ponce (throws), JR Kim Linder (400), SR Ashlyn Durham (800), SR Haily Macedo (distance)
Key New Athletes: Girls - FR Brooke Wong (vault), SR Carolina Vicklund (sprints). Boys - FR Kyle Peterson (throws), SO Max Stillwood (400)
Team Strength: Fresh feet. Rather than burn out his athletes with year-round activity, coach Bacigalupi encourages his athletes to participate in other sports throughout the year. This way, Oakdale students enter the track season ready for another sport and motivated to give their best in the few months they have on the track. Oakdale is pretty solid all the way around, and sports 150 bodies across the varsity and junior varsity levels. The team’s biggest strengths may come in their field events, where strong jumpers, throwers and vaulters should be among the best in the area,
VOL Outlook: Oakdale girls will fight for their seventh consecutive varsity title, but it won’t be easy without athletic phenoms, Jaci and Juli Powell. The girls should see some stiff opposition from Sierra, East Union, Sonora and Kimball. Oakdale boys will have their hand full with a huge returning cast of Sierra athletes, but will fight for top honors nonetheless. Oakdale’s frosh-soph teams should be among the best in the league.
Fast Fact: The varsity girls at Oakdale High have won an astounding 46 consecutive league meets.
Pulling from a strong class of athletes year after year certainly helps, but the success of the Oakdale High track and field program can boil down to the way the team splits to localized practice sessions at each venue of events.
After a team-wide warm up, Mustang students depart for training regiments at one of seven stations. Each is manned by a knowledgeable tutor in his or her respective field of expertise.
Long and triple jumpers visit head coach Dave Bacigalupi, while high jumpers see coach Shawn Caris (and his assistant Matt McDonald). Throwers tackle workouts with Brett Chappell (and his assistant Ryan Balk), while pole vaulters receive lessons from Tim Worley. The hurdlers rush to Lori Vargas, and the sprinters do likewise to Mike Bacigalupi and Ron Rieger while distance runners flock to Guy Fowler.
The assistants operate on a volunteer basis, but the coaches see splits in a stipend that allows for heavy involvement from a terrific collection of mentors on the track and fields.
It’s the brand of coaching that has made Oakdale’s program a Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV power each season.
“When you have a lot of people out there helping and splitting the kids off to their areas, the kids seem to really get out there and have fun,” coach Dave Bacigalupi said. “Track can be a difficult sport to coach, but it’s such a tremendous help to have the coaching staff and the volunteers that we have.”
One hundred and fifty athletes in Oakdale’s boys and girls programs will once again vie for top honors from the Valley Oak League and deep pushes into the SJS postseason. The Lady Mustangs will certainly miss the likes of all-around stars Jaci and Juli Powell (graduated), but should still contend for their seventh consecutive conference title.
With Jaylene Ponce commanding her post in the thowers pit, Haily Macedo leading distance runners, Me’che Brown back for more sprinting success and Justina Keith, Domi Powell, Sara Aguayo, and Ashlyn Durham all back for some of the honors they tasted last year, Oakdale should be in prime shape for another repeat.
Oakdale welcomes senior foreign exchange sprinter, Carolina Vicklund to the track, and is happy to see junior Kim Linder back in action after a long lay-off in recovering from devastating injuries for over a full year.
Coach Bacigalupi said this season could represent the girls’ stiffest challenge for the league’s top honors, as Sierra, East Union and Sonora all return a sharp class of competitors.
“We lost two of the Powells, but we have got some girls stepping up and we’re going to make another run at it,” Bacigalupi said. “Two win seven titles in a row would be really awesome.”
The senior-strong Sierra boys are favored to win a conference title, but will find plenty of opposition from Oakdale standouts across the track.
Marco Camacho emerged as one of the top throwers in the section with a 164-foot toss of the discus at the Sierra-Tom Moore Relays, where he also won the shot put. He will see some added scores from jumping/sprinting standout Daniel Linder, and a deep cast of young Mustang boys gunning for their own marks among the crowd.
“I think our JV boys team will be pretty good and I think the future for the boys looks pretty good,” Bacigalupi said. “The varsity boys will have to go against a very strong Sierra team this year. They were junior strong last year, so they are the clear favorite to repeat as VOL and Division IV champions for two straight years.”
Oakdale scrimmaged Escalon last week, and opens VOL action at Lathrop on Thursday, March 17.