Grolle heads Cat foursome in effort to reach State

Vongni Yang, The Union Democrat /

For Sonora Wildcats Angela Gardella, Thomas Kruetzfeldt and Bryce Sanguinetti, Thursday's trip to the 2014 Sac-Joaquin Section Masters will mark the first time the trio will compete at that meet.

Gardella, Kruetzfeldt, Sanguinetti, along with Wildcat veteran Steven Grolle, advanced to Masters after finishing in the top five or better at last week's Division IV-V Finals at Cal State Stanislaus in Turlock. That included three overall first place finishes from Grolle, who won two, and Sanguinetti.

"They all performed well," said Sonora head coach Frank Garcia. "They did what they were supposed to do. The goal was to qualify and move on, and they did."

Grolle is making his fourth consecutive appearance at Masters, and he is the Wildcats' best chance to advance to state.

The consistently fast senior topped the field in the 1600 and 3200 at Divisionals. In the 1600, Grolle edged Bret Harte's Tristan Boblet by nearly a second at 4:27.34 and breezed to victory in the 3200 at 9:35.40, which was also a personal best.

Grolle holds the school record in the mile and 3000-meter. He set the new marks at the prestigious Stanford Invitational in April. His 3000 time of 8:44.3. was tops overall among high schoolers.

"Steven is our well-seasoned runner," Garcia said. "He's won section. I can't imagine what Steven's medal collection looks like. He's just amazing. I couldn't ask for an all-around better athlete."

Gardella will move on in the girls' discus and shot put.

At Divisionals, Gardella placed fourth in the discus (109-11) and fifth in the shot put (36-07.75).

"She has to have a good day," Garcia said. "Angela, she's a junior, she'll be back next year. I think she can definitely set a personal record at the Masters meet at both events."

Kruetzfeldt ran to a third-place finish at 1:57.06 at Divisionals, and in the process, established a new Wildcat record in the 800 by breaking Spencer Castro's previous mark by just five-tenths of a second.

Castro graduated in 2007 and later went on to have a four-year career with the Stanford Cardinal.

"I had no idea I was going to be able to break the record," Kruetzfeldt said. "I was just going out there to run and do my best - run and try to stay with the guys in front of me. It was a big shocker that I broke the record. I was very excited. I felt great during the race. I felt fantastic. I felt like I was gaining a lot of ground pretty quickly."

Heading into Masters, Kruetzfeldt said he is ranked No. 8.

"I'm going to be pushed quite a bit," Kruetzfeldt said. "There's going to be a lot of guys close to my time. It's going to be a tough race."

Sanguinetti finished first in the pole vault at Divisionals, clearing 14-09 to top the competition.

However at Masters, the junior will probably have to post a better mark in order to advance to the State Meet. His personal best this season is 15-01.

"Bryce is running around 15-1," Garcia said. "It's going to be really stiff competition, but Bryce is a football player, wrestler and pole vaulter, he rises on competition."

Sanguinetti hopes to record a jump over 16 feet, but if he hits the automatic qualifying mark for state at 15-02, the junior will advance.

"It's really difficult," Sanguinetti said his event. "But it's fun though. I love it. I love flying through the air. It's kind of like an adrenaline rush."

Trials for the two-day Masters meet at Elk Grove High School starton Thursdayand finals conclude Friday.

The top three placers in each final qualify for the State Meet onJune 6-7at Buchanan High School in Clovis. At-large bids will be given to athletes who do not finish in the top three, but hit the automatic qualifying mark in their respective event.

"I want everybody to show what they have and perform at their best," Garcia said. "We can't ask for anything else. California and Texas have the best track and field in the United States. If you can make it to the state meet, that is an achievement in itself."

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The Union Democrat
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