The San Benito High boys 4×400 relay team went into last Friday’s Central Coast Section Championships with one objective: earn a berth to the CIF State Championships. And that’s exactly what the quartet did, finishing in second place in 3 minutes, 21.78 seconds to earn a state berth for the second straight year.
“We ran our fastest time of the season, and it felt good,” said William Castellanos, who along with brothers Adam Mendoza, Robert Mendoza and Ivan Mendoza make up the team. “We did everything we had to do, executed and ran with a lot of heart.”
Robert Mendoza ran the first leg, Castellanos the second, Ivan Mendoza the third and Adam Mendoza the anchor leg. Robert ran a solid opening leg before giving way to Castellanos, who kept eventual winner Serra within striking distance by the time he handed the baton to Ivan, who ran like a bat out of hell from the get-go and even overtook the Serra runner for a brief moment with around 150 meters to go.
However, the Serra runner—who had a seven to eight meter lead before Ivan took the baton—was able to retake the lead in the final 100 meters, as he was able to pace himself with the lead.
“We really push each other and knew there was a good possibility of us making it to state,” Robert said. “This is a great group. We hang out a lot, know each other well and support each other. If I mess up a little, they’ll bring me back up.”
Individually, Castellanos took seventh in the 200-meter dash in 22.41 seconds, while Robert Mendoza finished seventh in the 400 in 50.78 seconds. San Benito had a strong contingent competing in the CCS Finals, including Ellie Miller, Annie Breger, Peter Reikowski, Jonathan Ramos and Ben Hagan.
Ramos had a strong performance, establishing a personal-record (PR) in the long jump in 21-7 ½ for eighth place. Breger capped an outstanding career at San Benito by finishing sixth in the long jump in 17-8 and seventh in the triple jump in 37-4.
Miller went 4-10 in the high jump to finish in 11th place, and Hagan cleared 6-2—a one inch PR—to take fourth place and narrowly miss out on a state berth.
“It feels good to get a PR,” Hagan said. “I felt good from the start. I made up to 6-2 with no scratches, but I just couldn’t get that last little oomph to clear 6-4. I’m really happy with my performance today, and the fact that I was right there will motivate me in the off-season to get to state next year.”
Reikowski ended his career with a 13-3 in the pole vault, good for fifth place. It would’ve taken 14-3 to qualify for state, which incidentally is Reikowski’s PR.
“It was just one of those days,” he said. “I didn’t have my best day, and it was on the wrong day. But it was a great season and I can’t tell you how happy I was to be able to do this again and be able to compete. Unfortunately, this is it, but I definitely hit my marks and I couldn’t have asked for a better season. Honestly, my biggest goal this season was to get off the ground again (after a season-ending injury in 2017) and enjoy my senior year. I would say I did that pretty well.”