Latino athletes strike gold at CIF State Track & Field Championships
By JUAN ESPARZA LOERA
Vida en el Valle
(Published Tuesday, June 5th, 2012 10:40AM)
CLOVIS One year after no Latino competitors walked off with gold medals at the state track and field championships, Redwood High School's Lizette Mendívil and Demien High's Jarrett Gonzales made sure the same story wasn't written this time.
Mendívil unleashed a personal best throw of 155 feet, 10 inches on her final throw to win the girls' discus by one inch over Arroyo Grande's Madison Jacobs. That was good enough for first place, and the first gold at the state meet in Redwood High history.
Gonzales didn't get a personal best in the boys' 300-meter intermediate hurdles, but he was fast enough at 37.30 to finish ahead of Ramona's Zach Lewis.
Latino athletes were also factors in many other events at the championships last Saturday at Buchanan High School's Veterans Memorial Stadium:
Colony High School long distance runner Xochitl Navarrete finished second in the girls' 3,200-meter run (10:25.85) and third in the 1,600-meter race (4:48.73).
Templeton's Savannah Camacho finished third behind Amy Weissenbach of Harvard-Westlake in the girls' 800-meter run for the second consecutive year. Camacho had a time of 2:09.30, to Weissenbach's 2:05.70.
Hanford High's Isaiah Cantú blazed to a 48.13 time in the boys' 400-meter run to finish third, behind Beverly Hills' Alex Rohani (47.34) and Dorsey's Rashard Clark (47.45).
Rancho Cucamonga's Luis Gutiérrez picked up a silver medal in the 1,600-meter run with a time of 4:10.94, behind La Costa Canyon's Darren Fahy (4:08.78).
St. John Bosco's Danny Martínez also found himself behind a winning Fahy in the 3,200-meter run with a time of 9:05.74. Fahy clocked 9:03.29.
Oakdale High's Manuel Hernández equaled the 6-10¼ height cleared by high jump champion Noel Frazier of California High and runner-up Cody Crampton of Canyon-Anaheim, but had to settle for third place due to more misses at lower heights.
"I"m so happy. I'm really proud for myself," said Méndivil minutes after winning the girls' discus competition. "It is really a mental battle with me. I'm just glad I overcame that and won."
Méndivil took up the discus at the encouragement of her coach, Randy Ziraldo.
"I played basketball my freshman year, and he came up to me and said, 'You're going to be a discus thrower."
Méndivil fell in love with the event.
The Redwood senior has thrown 164 feet in practice.
"I saw a lot of talent and stubbornness," said Ziraldo about what made him think Mendívil would be a champion discus thrower. "She, she didn't give up. I never thought that she would not win."
Right before her final throw, Mendívil had a best of 151-00. At that point, she trailed Jacobs' best of 155-09. Jacobs fouled on her final throw, just before Méndivil was to get the last throw of the competition.
But first, the national anthem and fireworks interrupted her.
"The fireworks surprised me, but it didn't bother me," said Méndivil, the only competitor who had more than one throw of more than 150 feet (she had four).
"I just had to step it up," said Mendívil.
Gonzales, a senior, admitted he was "a little worried" about the strong gusts of wind on Saturday evening.
"I just focused and did what I had to do," he said. "It wasn't a personal record, but I'm OK with that. I'm successful. I'm glad I go home with a medal."
Navarrete, who will focus on cross country at UC Berkeley in the fall, was happy to finish with a silver and bronze medal.
In the 1,600-meter run, she was fourth after three laps and was able to move up to third on the final lap.
"I was consistent and aggressive," said Navarrete. "On the last lap, all of us went for it. Some (girls) have a stronger kick than I do, (so) I was lucky to stay in contact."
Although she has been a high school competitor for four years, Navarrete missed out her freshman year because of bad training and her sophomore year due to an injury.
"My junior year was my first competitive season. It was very hard mentally, and it was a thing I had to get into my head," said Navarrete. "It was just hard to have confidence."
It appears that Navarrete has her confidence.
Gutiérrez was gunning for first place in the boys' 1,600-meter run.
"I think yesterday's race affected me by going too fast the last 300 meters," he said. "Today, I felt good until the last 300 meters. He (Fahy) just kept going faster."
Gutiérrez started running to get in shape for soccer. Now, he wants to focus on the 800- or 1,600-meter runs.
"I'm happy, but not too happy, with second place," he said.
Cantú, who left Friday's qualifying early to make it to his high school graduation (he arrived about five minutes late), was pleased with a third-place medal but his mission was first place.
"The second 100 (meters) I felt like I ran it good but the time didn't reflect my best," said Cantú, who clocked a 47.72 in Friday's qualifying.
Cantú took up the 400-meter run after finding out he had a slow start to the 100-meter event.
"My dad and others told me I should try the 400," said Cantú, who is undecided about what college he will attend.
Hernández, the high jumper, already knows he will attend Modesto Junior College and try to break Tyke Peacock's record of 7-5 in the event.
He was a couple of misses from winning on Saturday. He missed once at 6-4, and twice at 6-6 before missing twice at the winning distance. He was awarded third based on misses.
"I was definitely aiming for a win," said Hernández, who came close to clearing 6-11 all three attempts.
Latinos brillan en campeonato estatal
Un año después de que los competidores latinos no marcharón con medallas de oro en el campeonato estatal del atletismo, Lizette Mendívil de la preparatoria Redwood High School y Jarret Gonzales de la preparatoria Demien asegurón que la misma historia no fuera escrita en esta ocasión.
Mendívil desató un tiro de mejor marca personal de 155 pies y 10 pulgadas en su tiro final del disco para ganar el evento por una pulgada sobre Madison Jacobs de Arroyo Grande. Eso fue lo suficientemente para el primer lugar, y la primera medalla de oro estatal en la historia de Redwood High.
Gonzales no tuvo un tiempo mejor en la carrera de 300 metros de obstáculos intermedios, pero era lo suficientemente rápido con tiempo de 37.30 para terminar por delante de Zach Lewis de la preparatoria Ramona.