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Adrian Cuellar, center, and Jayden Olea treated the 800 meter like a full-on sprint.

Sophomores Adrian Cuellar and Jayden Olea crossed the finish line strong in the 800 meters amongst the fastest runners in the event, rewarded immediately by their coach and teammates. 

“Nice job,” said coach Clay Manning, clapping his hands slowly and wearing a big grin.

Both returned the positive energy as best they could. Their effort left them winded, and they tried to walk it off. They participated with a couple hundred athletes at a County Metro Athletic Conference meet April 3 at Bullard High.

The reason for the reaction had to do in part with their performance but also because neither is especially familiar with the 800.

“Because we’re 2-milers,” Olea said. 

Both nailed personal records. Olea, who placed seventh overall, ran the race in 2:07.05 minutes. Cuellar, who was sixth, ran it in 2:06.49. And both ran all out the entire distance. Bryan Banuelos of Edison, a senior, won with 2:00.81.

Personal records didn’t end there. Sanger ran fast that day. David DeLoera, a freshman, came in 12th with 2:13.74, Ethan Hunt, a junior, had another personal record with 2:18.49, and freshman Jeremy Ramirez, with 2:34.83, did as well.

“Jeremy is a beast,” said Ben Rust, a senior teammate. 

Ramirez said he scored personal records on the 800 and the 1,600. “I just ran my own race,” he said. “I tried to beat one guy. Just tried to do the best I can.” He said he will continue pushing himself.

Manning said some of his athletes had some “big breaks” that afternoon. He said the team’s making progress. “We are like positive trending,” he said. “We’ve not had our best races this year, but we’re getting there.”

Junior Ivan Topete scored a second place behind San Joaquin Memorial’s Jalen McMillan in the 200 meters. Topete had 23.41 seconds. Luis Lopez, fifth overall, came in second for Sanger with 23.80, also a personal record.

Topete said he didn’t know exactly what it was that enabled him to beat his previous time. “I train with the distance runners, but I have the legs of a sprinter,” he said. “So it just evens out.”

Topete said he was involved in a car accident three weeks earlier. “I’m trying to get back on my feet,” he said. “Just trying to get ready for CMAC.” And as for strategy, he added, “I just don’t give up until I cross the line.”

Daylah Gonzalez, a freshman, sprinted to a second place and a personal record in the 100 meter, with 13.07 seconds, just behind first place finisher Brooklyn Lee of Edison with 12.80 seconds. Senior Apache Monica Villicana ran a personal best 13.49 for seventh. Makayla DuPont, Sienna Bianchi, Mckaley Yost, Kamryn Ramirez, Jasmine Gallardo and Celeste Diaz also nabbed personal records.

“I got a good start, moving my arms correctly,” Diaz said. She said she would do the same on hurdles later that day. “This time I’ll have my confidence.”

Bianchi, a freshman, said she would run the 800 again after her first-place finish with 2:37.28 minutes. It was her first time running the race in competition. “I was shaking before(hand),” she said. “I think I was holding back too much that first lap. But by the the 300-meter mark, I felt like ‘I can do this.’ It was really fun. I like trying new things.”

Sanger swept the race, nabbing the top five finishing positions. All five got personal records. Melody Salazar was second with 2:43.83, Karisma Rodriguez third with 2:45.88, Annie Ramirez fourth with 2:46.05 and Liberty Wolf fifth with 2:47.48.

Jasmine Guardado, a junior, competed in 100 meter hurdles for the first time, getting a fifth place. Jennifer Villalobos, also a junior, got third for Sanger. Villalobos also earned a personal record in the 200 meter race, where she was sixth and Gonzalez third, also with a personal best. 

“I really need to work on the landing(s),” Guardado said. “It was extremely fun and exciting for a first race.”

Carlos Wong, a sophomore, also ran the hurdles to third place. He said it’s his first year in the event and he needs to speed up and “improve my form. I’m relying on my legs (too much).” He scored a personal record in the 300-meter hurdles.

In the 110 hurdles, teammate Nathan Cantu, a freshman, scored a second place and a personal record.

Elijah DeLaFuente, a senior, ran for a season record second place with 55.93 seconds in the 400 meters. Ben Awad got fourth and a personal record 57.50.

“I have a headache,” DeLaFuente said after the race. He said he was pleased with his performance but that he intends to break 54 seconds before the season ends.

Hunt, who also ran the 800, said he has been steadily improving his times this season by working on the mental aspect of his races. “I think of other things,” he said. “I do math the whole time. It distracts me. It’s numbers. I don’t know how to explain it.”

Hunt ran a personal best 5:01.47 minutes in the 1,600 meters for eighth place. Sophomore Danny DeLoera got third with 4:50.78, a season record.

DeLoera said he’s still trying to figure out exactly what works for him as he tries to chip away at his times. “I’m looking forward to getting under 4:40 minutes,” he said. “I just have to practice harder.”

On triple jump, Alex Cordova, a junior, didn’t quite reach his goal. But he got a season record with 34 feet 6 inches. “My PR is 39 feet from last year,” he said, saying he plans to reach 40. “Just by working hard and going 100 percent.”

At the Arcadia Invitational, which Sanger master statistician Ron Blackwood said attracted the state’s best athletes, a school record was set in the four by 800 meter relay of 9:35.90 minutes by Nia Lamas, Kaley Cardenas, Cu-Nisha Mitchell and Alondra Huerta. Blackwood said the old record of 10:06.73 was set in 2012. The Arcadia meet was April 5 and 6.

Blackwood also mentioned the Apache boys sprint medley of 1,600 meters as being worthy of praise. Jose Porras, Damian Duarte, Ivan Topete and Emanuel Salas posted a time of 3:41.93 minutes. Clovis won the event.

The girls also earned a school record in the four by 1,600 meter relay with 22:09.03, shaving about 2.5 minutes off the old record set in 1981. This team included Lamas, Cardenas and Jessica and Jennifer Recinos. 

The team of Cardenas, Cu-Nisha Mitchell, Huerta and Jennifer Recinos also got a school record of 13:14.83 in the distance medley relay. Old record was set in 2011 by Maya Contreras, Sonachi Agina, Marissa Henry and Megan Osten. Kosi Agina also won Blackwood’s acclaim for his triple jump of 47 feet 2 inches, which earned him seventh place.

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