For the first time in recent memory, the San Benito High School track and field program didn’t win a team championship in either the boys or girls division. Both squads had to settle for runner-up finishes in last Friday’s Monterey Bay League Championships at Gilroy High. Although San Benito didn’t reach its goal of sweeping the team titles, junior Annie Breger said the team makeup is stronger than ever.
“In this meet you not only want to do well for yourself, but for your teammates,” said Breger, who won the long jump and took second in the high jump and triple jump. “Even though we’re the biggest team in the league (enrollment size and number of athletes), we’re all trying to win for each other.”
Breger won the long jump in 16 feet, 4 ¾ inches to go along with a pair of second-place Monterey Bay League finishes in the high jump (4-10) and triple jump (34-7). Teammate Camille Finley won the latter two events, one of two Balers—the other was Marisa Villegas—to win multiple individual events.
Finley repeated as the high jump champion with a mark of 5 feet, won the triple jump in a personal-record (PR) of 35-8 ½ and took third in the long jump in 15-11 ½. Although Finley was a bit disappointed with her high jump performance—her PR is 5-6—she was ecstatic with her result in the triple jump.
“I don’t focus on the triple as much as I do on the high jump, but Tuesday in the (MBL) Trials I felt really on,” she said. “I hadn’t felt like that in forever, and it helped me out a lot. I’m finally getting to where I should be in terms of technique and form that I hadn’t been getting the last two years. With the high jump, I definitely lost my technique, and I need to regroup and fix it. Hopefully I’ll do better in the next few weeks.”
Breger is also working out the kinks technique-wise in the triple jump, the event she won in last year’s MBL Finals.
“This year the coaches and I were working a lot more on technical things to get to that bigger jump,” she said. “So I have to sacrifice some things in the present to get a bigger jump later. It’s been tough, but I see things coming into place.”
The UCLA-bound Villegas won the 800 and 1600-meter events, the latter for the fourth time in her spectacular career. Plagued by a nagging leg injury this season, Villegas still managed to win the 800 in 2 minutes, 26.45 seconds and the 1600 in 5:18.99. Although both times were well off her PRs, Villegas showed a champion’s spirit in winning despite not having the proper amount of training due to the injury.
Anthony Delgado, a standout sophomore, repeated as champion in the 110 hurdles to go along with a runner-up finish in the Monterey Bay League’s 300 hurdles. Delgado pretty much blew away the field in the 110, finishing in a PR of 15.02 seconds. Delgado came out fast out of the blocks and pulled away from the field with each step.
“I came in here confident because I was the No. 1 seed in league,” he said. “When I was in the (starting) blocks, I took some deep breaths, waited for the gun to go off and just went. On the first couple of hurdles I heard some guys behind me, and that made me want to go faster. Once I crossed the finish line, I knew I had run a good time.”
Delgado, who also had a strong season on the football team, used his strength and power to run his best race of the season.
“I’m 175 to 180 pounds, and that extra weight I put on from last summer and the football season I feel has really helped me to get more power as I’m jumping and stepping,” he said. “Winning the race last year was a surprise, and I didn’t know what it meant. This year I know what it means, and it touches me that much more.”
Senior Nolan Sanchez was disappointed with his performance in the 400 and 800, as he finished second and first, respectively, in those events. Sanchez, who has been coming on strong after dealing with physical ailments at the start of the season, showed plenty of heart in the 800, when he held off a furious charge from Salinas senior Spencer Baucom.
Sanchez’s time of 2:00.23 was 2/100ths of a second faster than Baucom, who looked as if he was going to overtake Sanchez on the final straightaway. However, Sanchez found a way to hold on at the end. In what equated to a photo finish, Sanchez had no idea if he had won after crossing the finishing line.
“I just wanted to throw up again,” said Sanchez, who admitted to making a big mistake by eating a hamburger before his run in the 400. “It’s a nice little win because my legs were tightening up. I didn’t know if I had won until I saw the scoreboard, and at that point it was just a relief. I was drained.”
Sophomore Hunter Fu, who is in his first year of competing in the high jump, finished in a three-way tie for second with a mark of 5-10. He was also one of the legs of the 4×400 relay team—to go along with Sanchez, Adam Mendoza and Robert Mendoza—that ended the meet on a high note, finishing in 3:28.20.