There is nothing quite like doing your best at the best possible moment.
Oakdale High track athletes landed their best marks of the season in pivotal competition during the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV-V Championships on May 15 and 17 at Modesto Junior College. The efforts and top-six placements propelled six boys and seven girls to the next stage of the postseason — the SJS Masters Championships in Elk Grove on May 24 and 25. The top three athletes at Masters and those that reach elite at-large marks will move on to the state meet.
“It was a lot of fun, and nice to see that hard work pays off,” Oakdale coach Dave Bacigalupi said on Sunday.
Mustang standout Carly Rodgers sprung for a school record in the pole vault with an 11 foot, 3 inch effort to finish second in the division to East Union’s Jerrica Hauck, who landed her own personal best (11-6) to win the tournament.
“We have been meeting for the last three years and it has been really close,” Rodgers said. “I was really hoping to beat her, but it was good competition. It pushes us both farther.”
Rodgers performed the jump on a longer pole she had only practiced with for a day prior to divisional action. The feat landed her with the fifth-best mark of any athlete to qualify for Masters.
“I am super excited to go to Masters,” Rodgers said. “I feel like it’s a really great way to end my senior year. I know making state is definitely obtainable.”
Rodgers isn’t the only Mustang with state-meet aspirations. Oakdale senior Manny Hernandez enters competition as the top-seeded high-jumper after leaping 6-7 for a D IV-V title. His jump is still the third best mark of any athlete in the state, making him a clear threat to win Masters and grab a state medal.
“I think Manny was pretty excited to win divisionals and he feels good and confident,” Bacigalupi said. “He is ready to jump two more times this season.”
Oakdale sophomore Kyle Peterson saw his possible division title in jeopardy when Sierra senior Bret Wilson spun and hurled the discus for a 163-5 personal best to take the lead in Thursday’s discus finals. Peterson responded with a herculean toss of 167-9 for a division title, new personal best and the third best throw in school history. It was the third best throw among athletes to reach to Masters and an important feat, considering Division IV-V represents four of the six best throws to be seeded at Masters. The at-large mark for discus is 168-11, a reasonable goal for Peterson.
“It was pretty dang exciting for a sophomore kid to step up and beat another thrower’s PR with his own to win the division,” Bacigalupi said. “I think he will have to do something similar to throw 168-11.”
Kellie Gratigny exploded for personal best performances in both the triple jump (37-02) and long jump (16-4) to finish first and second, respectively, in the events. She also ran a brisk leg for the 1600 relay team (Kim Linder, Me’che Brown, Deziree Pennington) that ended second in the meet with a new team best of four minutes, 6.19 seconds.
The Oakdale girls were runners-up in Division IV, just six points shy of first place Cosumnes Oaks. Brown ended third in the 100 and 200. Linder was third in the 400 while Jennie Siemsen ended just one position shy of Masters in seventh place in the 3200.
Pennington also qualified in the 100 hurdles (fourth) and triple jump (sixth). Domi Powell was fifth in the high jump while Hayley McIntyre lost a tiebreaker in the same event to finish seventh. Brooke Wong came through with a fifth place finish in the pole vault while Kelsey McIntyre was eighth in the shot put.
The Oakdale boys qualified Chris Davis, Joey Flores, Wyatt Coffee and Eric Padilla to Masters after a 3:32.36 time in the 1600 relay. The group was less than five seconds behind champion Vista del Lago and less than one second away from seventh place.
“It’s always good when you get down towards the end of the year and you have kids serious about what they are doing,” Bacigalupi said. “I know the 4x4 girls want to break the school record and Manny, Carly and Kyle really want to go to state.”