The Gridley High track squad had an interesting Friday. While six members of the varsity trekked to Harrison Stadium in Oroville to test themselves against many top schools from Northern California as well as Nevada, the junior varsity squad found themselves in Chico competing against similar competition at their own meet. Despite the inability to be in multiple places at the same time, Gridley coach Leah Nichols was very pleased with her squads results.
“Anytime you can place at meets of this quality is a big deal,” said Nichols. “I was with the junior varsity squad in Chico, and we captured three events. Marisela Cardenas won both the throwing events, and Vanessa Ramirez both took first place in the triple jump. Then over at the varsity meet, Ryan (Donnahoe) won the shot put, while some of our other athletes performed well.”
Watching the varsity event in Oroville on a warm Friday afternoon was taxing for the spectators, and it is little wonder how the athletes were able to perform their best on one of the first truly warm days of the year. There isn't much shade around the track, and the little bit available was quickly taken by the more than 50 squads which made their way to participate in the West Valley Invitational. While the event has traditionally been hosted at Chico State University, scheduling conflicts forced the meet to be moved to the new track facility at Harrison Stadium.
While the day may have been long, it didn't stop Gridley thrower Donnahoe from continuing his impressive season throwing the 12 lb. shot. Donnahoe, who made a visit last week to UC Davis to discus continuing his track career as an Aggie, once again dominated the field, winning the shot put with a heave of 57' 6” which topped his nearest competitor by over six and a half feet. The senior had been hoping to top 60 ft., and wasn't super pleased with his best throw, but when looking at the fact he was throwing only 55 ft. in December, it is hard to get to upset about only throwing 57 ft.
Also competing at the West Valley event for the Bulldogs was senior Mike Fenn. Fenn, competing in the long jump and 400 meters, placing 10th in both events. Freshman Brennah Payne, who could have been winning distance events at the junior varsity meet, ran both the 1600 and 3200 meters on the hot day, was more than respectable, finishing ninth in her heat in the 1600 (5:49.56) and fifth in her heat in the 3200 (13:01.03). Junior Averie Roberts completed her heat in the 1600, but a nagging knee injury hampered her ability to run the race she hoped, and after leading the first lap, Roberts dropped back in the pack, and the injury kept her competing in the 3200. Senior Ed Ruiz ran the 200 meters along with junior Richard Benish. Neither Ruiz (24.21) or Benish (25.90) reached the finals of the race featuring over 60 runners.
Over in Chico, Gridley throwers were once again leading the way. Cardenas, only a freshman, probably competed in her last junior varsity event, winning both the shot put (33' 3.25”) and the discus (87' 10”). Afterward she told coach Nichols she would begin throwing varsity full-time, so she could push herself to get better, which was fine with Nichols.
“Every athlete is different,” said Nichols. “When Marisela came to tell me about her decision, I knew she was ready. She knows she can stay down and dominate at the junior varsity level, but she wants to push herself, like Brennah is doing, but as a coach you can't force them to get better, they have to want to do it on their own.” For the rest of this story, pick up a 4/25/12 edition of The Gridley Herald. Love Local Sports? Call us to subscribe, today! 846-3661