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Track Team Kicks Into High Gear Against Ripon
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With a pretty good feeling that, if they did their best, they could win, the Cougar track and field athletes headed into Ripon on Thursday and came away with wins in both the boys and girls competitions.

"The girls we knew would be okay," coach Rick Heflin said of his varsity Lady Cougars. "On the boys, I thought it would be a little tougher because Riverbank just barely beat this team."

The girls rolled to a 116-19 victory, the boys also took a comfortable 87-48 decision.

"One of the things we were focusing on, we're looking for PR's (personal records)," said Heflin. "If they hit their PR's, we're going to win."

The varsity girls had multiple wins by some athletes, led by freshman Simone Lionudakis with four first place finishes. She won the high jump at 4-6, triple jump at 29-0 and long jump in 14-1.

"Then she went out and ran a 1:05 in the 400, she took four or five seconds off her PR," explained Heflin.

Amanda Moreno was a double winner, not tested in the mile or two-mile. Amanda Nunes won both the 100 and 200, turning in a time of 28.4 in the 200.

Winning the shotput and discus events was Megan McNinch, while the girls also won the 4-by-100 relay.

"In the 100 hurdles it was close between two of our girls, Lauren Cosentino was first and Hollee Turner was right behind her," Heflin said. "Shannon Finley won the 300 hurdles in 54.6."

Mckenzie Brown won the pole vault, clearing 6-6.

"It was an easy win," Heflin said of the contest for his varsity girls.

The boys had plenty of winners as well, including sweeping the top three spots in a number of events.

"We went one, two three in the shotput with Mike Sawyer first, then Jake Brown and Arturo Velasco," noted Heflin. "In the discus, it was Brown, Sawyer and then Justin Huebner and Jake threw a PR, 147-0."

In the triple jump, Tony Azevedo was first and Brad Campoy second, while Marcus Savage was first in the long jump and Jaremy Puthoff second. Savage won the high jump at 5-10 and Carl Aufdermaur was third.

"Winning the pole vault, and breaking the pizza mark by a foot, was Kyle Courtight," said Heflin.

The 'pizza mark' is one set for the athletes in their events, which, if they meet or exceed it, are presented with a pizza by Heflin. For Courtright, his pizza mark in pole vault was 10-6 and he won the event against Ripon with a vault of 11-6.

Justin Avila was second in the event, Lucas Pitassi took third.

Michael Beeman was third for Escalon in the 110 high hurdles and won the 300 hurdles in 44.67.

Shane Brookshire won the mile in 4:40, Andy Schmidt took second. In the 100, Puthoff was second in 11.6, Rocky Overturf was third. Sam Goulet won the 200 in 23.2, Overturf took third.

"In the 400, Sam just came through, he ran it in 51.67, that's two seconds faster than he's run it this year," Heflin pointed out.

Brookshire picked up his second win of the day in the 800, Escalon won the 4-by-100 relay in 47.02 and Giovanni Rojas was second in the two-mile.

Big tests remaining for the Cougar squads are Livingston for the boys, Hilmar for the girls.

"Livingston boys are still undefeated and that will be our last (league) meet of the season," Heflin said, looking ahead. "The girls will face Hilmar, they are still undefeated and we will have to be hitting on all cylinders."

The Cougars will be in Hilmar for that key match up on Thursday, April 28, when the boys and girls will both be in action.

Weekend work for the squads on Saturday, April 23 featured a trip by a dozen athletes to the Distance Carnival in Bella Vista.

"They have a distance relay, three-quarters, one-quarter, half-mile and mile," said Heflin. "They also have the mile, two-mile and the four-by-800."

The girls took seventh in the distance medley, with Mary Courtright running the three-quarters of a mile leg, Simone Lionudakis going the quarter-mile, Annelyse Delucchi the half-mile and Marie Beard closing it out with a mile run. The boys were seventh also, with Andy Schmidt, Sam Goulet, Antonio Hernandez and Shane Brookshire filling the laps.

"In the open mile, Cynthia Lopez beat her personal record by 25 seconds, she ran a 5:35 and was fourth," Heflin said. "Oscar Moreno was 33rd in the JV mile."

Amanda Moreno took first in the open two-mile event but again, was not tested, beating the field by more than a lap in 10:58.

"She was kind of disappointed, she wants to get back in the 10:40s," admitted Heflin.

For the boys, Brookshire tied his PR and was sixth in the mile at 4:38, while Schmidt set a new record for himself, 5:08.

Beard, Courtright, Delucchi and Lopez closed out the competition with a run in the four-by-800 relay.

"They had a fun time," said Heflin.

With league action on Thursday, the Cougars will also see additional action on Saturday, April 30. Moreno will travel to the Meet of Champions at Hughes Stadium in Sacramento to compete against the region's finest runners in the two-mile. Several other members of the team will head to Pacific Grove for an invitational there.