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Strong Efforts On Track, Field For Cougars
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With just a few practices under their belts, runners, throwers and jumpers took to the track at Modesto Junior College on Saturday for the Sierra Invitational.

Coach Rick Heflin said he was pleased overall with the effort from his track and field team.

"There were 20 some schools there, a ton of athletes but we did have some highlights," said Heflin.

The distance medley team of Amanda Nunes, Sam Draper and Amanda Moreno took third place. Nunes ran the 400 lap, Draper the 800 and Moreno took the baton for the final leg of 1200 meters with the second place runner three-quarters of a lap in front of her.

"She caught her, passed her, then she got passed, it was nip and tuck but we ended up taking third by just a fraction of a second," Heflin said. "Then Amanda Moreno took first place in the mile at 5:13, she was 20 seconds better than anyone else, she is phenomenal, I think she's going to light up the world in Division I track."

Andy Schmidt took sixth place in the JV mile at 5:13, Randy Huntington was second in the JV 800 and Heflin also praised the efforts of Draper in the 800 and freshman Marie Beard, who ran some varsity races.

"We had some workhorses for the boys, our sprint medley team featured Randy Huntington, Heath Dougherty, Taylor Hawkins and Gus Arzac," said Heflin. "Vynce Bacay was running pretty solid, and Chris Castledine is running really strong right now."

There were a few individual events and many team medley-type events, Heflin added.

"Our distance medley team didn't medal but they ran well," he said.

Marc Backovich, Feliciano Leon, Shane Brookshire and Bacay made up that team.

Many of the track and field participants have just finished up playing basketball and haven't had much time to work with their events. That fact, coupled with the rainy weather of the past couple of weeks, put the Cougars in the competition with very little actual running experience so far this year. Most days they have spent in the weight room for training and have only gotten out on the field for practices a few times. But Heflin said he was happy with the effort and the Cougars apparently were, too, giving their coach a healthy dose of cold water - dumping a cooler on him - before the end of the day.

"I've got a good group of freshmen and sophomores coming up," he added. "I was impressed that the kids gave 100 percent and we had kids in every event."

The squad also showed a lot of team spirit during the day and Heflin said they have high hopes for the season.

"We're just going to get stronger," he said.