Oakdale High knew that it had one of the top programs heading into the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III Track and Field Finals at Modesto Junior College and the squad’s top-10 finish in both the boys and girls division was seemingly proof enough.
Oakdale put together a solid meet, earning a fifth pace overall finish for the boys and a ninth place overall finish for its girls program. The boys program tallied 34 points, 32 points shy of eventual champion Placer High.
“I think we had an OK performance,” Oakdale head coach Dave Bacigalupi said. “We could have done better, but the injuries killed us. Our confidence and morale was down, but they tried hard and that’s all you can ask.”
Oakdale did see its share of athletes advance into the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Meet, keeping alive the hopeful possibility of advancing to the CIF State Meet with a top-3 showing in Sacramento.
Mustang senior Tyler Murdoch grabbed a pair of berths into the Masters Meet, winning the pole vault with a 14’ leap and finishing fifth in the 110-hurdles.
“It’s nice to advance,” Murdoch said. “But I feel I could have done a little better. Maybe at Masters I’ll have a better showing.”
Murdoch will be on the chase for his personal record in the pole vault, setting a lofty goal of somewhere near 15’ to help close out an illustrious high school career.
“I was able to be consistent in this meet,” Murdoch said of his pole vault success after not winning the Valley Oak League title. “During VOL’s I was changing my jumps a lot, trying different things.
“This time I just stuck to what I was doing and it worked better.”
The Oakdale relay squads really took care of business against an extremely talented field, advancing to the Masters in the boys and girls 4x400 as well as in both 4x100 events. The guys grabbed a second place finish in the 1,600 and fourth in the 400, while the girls were able to pull of a third place finish in the 1,600 and a fourth in the 400.
The meet finale saw Oakdale’s girls entangled in a heated 4x400 relay race where the top five times were all less than 10 seconds apart. Oakdale got a huge boost when Kim Linder got the team off to a quality start with an impressive first leg.
Teammate Kristen Hoy anchored both relay teams, but just missed out on advancing in the 200-meter as an individual, finishing in 27.28, just four-tenths of a second shy of the sixth spot finish.
The boys relay squad had a quality turn out, adding senior John Brunk to the 4x400 team that has been plagued by injuries since season’s end. Brunk, Nicky Batteate, Isaiah Borba and Daniel Linder just missed a meet victory when Placer High edged them out 3:26.08 to 3:27.16.
Brunk also worked in qualifying in the triple jump (43’), but just missed the automatic qualifying 6’2” high jump when he topped out at 6’. Teammate Josh Gehring cleared the mark, giving him third place in the division and an invite to the Masters Meet.
Lady Mustang Jaci Powell grabbed herself a division championship, winning the triple jump with relative ease, jumping 35’ for the division crown. Powell was able to avenge a tough performance from a season ago, where her triple jump season ended prematurely.
Oakdale will put together a quality practice session in hopes of making some noise amongst the talented Masters Meet field.
“I really want the ones advancing to get their PR’s,” Bacigalupi said. “Tyler’s (Murdoch) last year in pole, if he can go 14’6 he’s got the school record. I hope Jaci (Powell) can get a 36’ in the triple.
“Just stuff that can carry on into next year, seeing them PR would be great.”
The Masters Meet begins Thursday, May 28 at Hughes Stadium in Sacramento.