Bill Rozak

Two athletes each from Sonora, Tioga, Bret Harte and Calaveras will represent their high schools at the prestigious Masters Track and Field meet on Thursday and Friday at Elk Grove.

The eight competitors earned their Masters spot by qualifying Tuesday and Thursday at the Division IV/V Championships at Sierra High in Manteca. The top five in each event advanced.

Sonora's Steven Grolle led the local contingent with a first-place finish in the 3200-meter.

The Wildcat junior finished in a time of 9:36.63, which was over five seconds faster than Ryan Salcido of Pacheco, who was runner-up.

Grolle's win helped the Wildcats finish 11th out of 31 teams that scored points.

Sonora senior Jeff Storey leaped his way into the Masters with a second-place finish in the long jump.

Storey reached a distance of 21-09.25 which is just shy of his best this season.

"I'm excited about going to Masters this week," said Wildcat head coach Frank Garcia. "Steven and Jeff are ranked as some of the best athletes in our section (Sac-Joaquin). We would like to have both of them qualify for the State meet. They're both prepared and experienced at this level of competition."

Tioga's Matthew Spring and Casey Bryant led the Timberwolves to a 15th-place team finish.

Spring, a junior, earned second place in the 1600-meter with a personal best time of 4:29.10, good for eight team points. Places two through five were separated by just .60 seconds.

"He wasn't even ranked in the Top 10 coming in," said Tioga head coach Randi Mittelstadt. "He ran a great race. He was in eighth with about 300 to go and made his break. It was an unbelievable ending in places two through five."

Spring later ran the 3200 and finished just out of point-scoring territory in seventh (9:57.42).

Timberwolves sophomore Casey Bryant defied gravity enough to finish fourth in the high jump.

Bryant earned four points by reaching a height of 5-11.

"Casey has come a long way," Mittelstadt said. "Ellen Jeffrey our assistant coach has worked a lot with him. This is his first year and he started at 4-08."

Tioga, a school of around 75, and a track team of 12 competitors, is sending the same amount of athletes to Masters as Sonora, Bret Harte and Calaveras.

"Out of something like 74 kids in the school and 12 on the team, absolutely, we take pride in that," Mittelstadt said.

Bret Harte was led by Tristan Boblet and Joe Hollett who each earned fourth-place finishes in their respective events.

Boblet, a junior, was second in a pack of three that finished with .60 seconds behind Spring. Boblet scored four teams points and advanced with a time of 4:29.64.

The senior Hollett finished fourth and scored four points in the 800-meter with a time of 2:01.19.

Bret Harte finished 16th in the team standings.

Calaveras qualified the only two area females, Kelly Airola and Hannah Hull.

Airola, a junior, earned a tie for second in the high jump with an effort of 4-11. She scored seven points for the 11th-place Redskin girls who finished with 13.

Redskin sophomore Hannah Hull ran to a third-place finish in the 1600 with a time of 5:15.87. Hull has a season best of 5:04.74 according

To advance to the State meet from Masters, competitors must finish in the Top 3 in their respective events.

"We don't set goals for places as much as we do times," Mittelstadt said. "We'd like to see Matt run around the 4:25 mark at Masters and we'd like to see Casey reach 6-1. That would be real successful for us."

Sonora had two other athletes score points but finish just shy of advancing.

Wildcat senior Joe Maloney qualified eighth in the preliminaries for the 100-meter dash, but earned sixth place and a team point in the final. His qualifying time was 11.31 and his finals time was 11.40.

His latter time was .02 seconds behind fifth place, the final Masters qualifying spot.

Sonora senior Samantha Smith ended her Wildcat running career with a sixth-place finish in the 3200. She earned a point with a time of 11:47.

"Sam and Joe ended their high school career both placing sixth," Garcia said. "They both have done so much for the team all four years."

The Redskin boys earned two points with high-jumper Macklin Bolton and the 4x400 relay team of Randy Redman, Mason Steed, Tristan Harrison and Jacob Carey both finishing in sixth.

Bolton reached 5-07 to earn a point and he also finished eighth in the competitive 400-meter final after qualifying sixth.

The Redskins relay team qualified seventh in 3:33.62 but picked up its pace slightly in the final and earned a point (sixth place) with a time of 3:33.00.