Over 230,000 students from 190 different high schools make up the prestigious athletic conference known as the Sac-Joaquin Section.
Only two of those students can claim rights to the SJS Track and Field championship in the discus, and they are both Oakdale High Mustangs.
Junior Kyle Peterson and freshman Hannah Chappell stunned the field of top opposition with heroic heaves in the event finals, both securing their advancement to the California Interscholastic Federation State Track and Field Championship with some serious title swagger.
Peterson launched a 157 foot, four inch toss to qualify for the event finals, where his first throw found the 170-7 mark to ultimately lock a section championship and his first trip to the state meet.
And he’s not alone.
Chappell, only a freshman, qualified seventh to the discus finals with uneventful throws in Trials, but all but locked a shot at four straight trips to the pinnacle of prep track and field with her 135-07 mark on her second-to-last throw. She beat the next closest thrower by nearly seven feet.
“They made big throws at the right time,” Oakdale coach Dave Bacigalupi said. “It was a bad day, with heavy winds coming in from behind them.”
Peterson was one of the top qualifiers to join the Masters field last year, but failed to reach the finals after two disappointing fouls and a mediocre toss. It was an outcome he would not repeat in 2013.
I think the fact that he had a hard time last year helped him this year,” Bacigalupi said. “He showed he has learned from it.
“Last year’s experience changed him.”
Chappell suffered a similar scare after nabbing the second-to-last qualification to the finals. Her state-meet aspirations appeared in serious jeopardy after an early foul, but she exploded for a 135-7 mark
“Hannah only really had one good throw, but fortunately it was the right one,” Bacigalupi said. “Her previous ones were not even close to where she is capable of going.”
Senior Kellie Gratigny leaped to an emphatic 38 feet, 1 inch personal best in the triple jump to reach the event finals, but ended five inches off the automatic qualification mark that would have propelled her to the state meet. She was fifth in the event while Dezirae Pennington (junior) was just outside the finals in ninth.
Pennington and Gratigny also joined Jennifer Guzman and Me’che Brown on a participating 400 relay team that showed potential to reach the event finals, but was ultimately disqualified (late baton pass).
The pole vault tandem of Brooke Wong and Grace Perreira (both juniors) also shined in the field. Perreira stunned onlookers with new high at 9-09 in 10th, while Wong settled for a 9-03 (16th). Masters also showcased the talents of OHS first-year track athlete, Brock Whiting.
The OHS sophomore made huge strides to see a Masters qualification in the long jump and dropped in with a respectable 20-01.2 mark in the event.
“Everyone did a great job,” Bacigalupi said. “It was a good chance to learn and that’s the big thing with Masters.
“It helps you learn a lot for the coming years.”
The CIF Championships are at Buchanan High in Fresno on May 31 and June 1.