Jayden Freidt and Jasayla Mariscal knew exactly what they had to do in the Pacific Coast League Masters Track and Field/Central Coast Section Qualifier Meet on May 6 at Gilroy High.
Freidt, a senior on the San Benito boys team, and Mariscal, a freshman on the girls team, both had memorable races in which they made a furious comeback to cross the finish line first, epitomizing the resolve of the program.
Freidt was the anchor leg on the boys 4×100 meter relay team that entered the Masters Meet with the best time in the league. However, Salinas was slightly ahead for most of the way and its anchor leg received the baton just before Freidt on the final turn.
Freidt, who finished 11th in the 100-meter dash, overtook the Salinas runner in a near photo finish at the line as the Balers clocked 43.23 seconds to win by 3/100ths of a second.
“You just have to stay cool and calm,” said Freidt, whose relay teammates include Andrew Speech, Malachi Zabala and Isaiha Molina. “Like I said, sprint and don’t race. That’s what got us through that. I have to hand it to my boys because they kept us in it.”
Mariscal displayed a resolve beyond her years as she overtook two runners in the final 75 meters to win the 800 meters in a personal-record (PR) of 2 minutes, 27.95 seconds. San Benito teammates Isabela Arreola took second and Gabriella Romero third.
The week prior in the Gabilan Division Finals, the order was Romero, Arreola and Mariscal. This time, Mariscal unleashed the biggest kick at the end.
“I was trailing early in the race in seventh, and I’ve never been last so it was just pride and needing to pick it up,” Mariscal said. “I knew I had to come back strong and keep pushing to get first.”
San Benito head coaches Ryan Shorey and Rob Macias were delighted with their athletes’ performances, including what Mariscal and Freidt did.
“That was damn impressive for what Jasayla did as a freshman,” Shorey said. “She has an attitude about her and when she’s in the race, she’s focused and you can see it on her face.”
Indeed, Mariscal has a slight scowl as she’s running, an intense game face if you’ve ever seen one. She entered the season thinking she was going to be a sprinter in the 100 and 200 events, but quickly found the 800 was her best event.
The top seven finishers from each Masters Meet event qualified for the CCS Semifinals on May 14 at Gilroy High. Balers junior Jocelyn Alexander continued her spectacular season, winning the shot put in a PR of 37 feet, 10 inches and the discus throw in 110-3.
Her teammate, sophomore Natalie Tonascia, placed second in the shot put in 34-3. Alexander is the only San Benito athlete who ranks among the top 5 in the CCS in two individual events. She’s the leader in the shot put and has the second best mark in the discus at 118-11.
Freshman Hannah Vincent is evidence that the program continually churns out top young talent. She tied for the top mark in the triple jump in 34-5 1/2, but officially took second because Carmel’s Ashley Grose needed fewer attempts to nail that mark.
Another San Benito freshman, Emma Franks, took third in 33-9. Senior Claudia Alvarado tied for the best mark in the pole vault at 8-6, placing third because the two competitors with the same mark had fewer attempts. Senior Gia Felice took second in the 400 meters in a PR of 1:00.49, and freshman Madison Minkel placed fourth in a PR of 1:01.39.
The girls 4×400 relay team of Minkel, Romero, Mariscal and Felice posted a dominating win in 4:13.97, nearly 3.5 seconds faster than the runners-up. The 4×100 relay squad of Felice, Franks, Jernae Weekes and Nicole Maduena won in 50.49 seconds.
Weekes took third in the 100 meter dash in 13.10 and Cynthia Tena was third in the 1600 meters in a season-best time of 5:32.27. Both the boys and girls teams went undefeated during the dual-meet season, and the girls were downright dominant by piling up 247 points in the Gabilan Division Finals on April 29.
“The girls were one point away from scoring half the points available, and that was without one of our top girls who got hurt,” Shorey said. “That was a great show of force. Was I expecting the girls to be as dominant as they were this season? Not necessarily. It has been stellar, and the freshmen have been a huge boon to this team. It’s a special group. I couldn’t have come into the season expecting the freshmen group to do what they did. It’s been absolutely absurd.”
The boys have been terrific as well, with senior Tashann Battle winning the 110 hurdles in 16.49 seconds and teammate Camden Kareeson taking second in 16.74. Battle was well on his way to matching his PR of 16.11 when he clipped the fifth hurdle, which slowed him down and got his rhythm off.
However, Battle fought hard to the end and knows he’s primed to go sub 16 in the CCS Semifinals if he can run a clean race.
“Hitting the hurdle messed me up there, but it happens,” said Battle, who also had a solid season on the basketball team. “It’s OK, it’s hurdles, you’re going to hit them. It happens. I had fun winning the race. It’s an awesome feeling, I love it.”
Battle has come on strong as his inaugural season in 2020 was wiped out due to Covid. Last year, Battle said he missed not having hurdles coach Ryan Bartylla, who was taking a year off but came back this season and is one of nine assistant coaches in the program helping out Shorey and Macias.
“It’s been a great year and without the support of the other coaches, it never would’ve been what it was,” Shorey said. “It’s the biggest coaching staff we’ve ever had. We had 180 kids after cuts, and really honed in on that. It’s been a great season and we’re hoping to ride this into the CCS Semis.”
Sports editor Emanuel Lee can be reached at [email protected]