The Maple School Mustangs Track team competed in the Valley Track and Field Championships in Clovis at Buchanan High School last weekend. The meet was a culmination of meets that the team had to qualify for at different levels. They competed in five different meets, having to qualify to move on the next level at each meet.
The Mustangs started the season with 96 athletes competing in the first meet. After three meets, the Mustangs had 34 competitors qualify for the County Championships. After the County meet, the Mustangs had 22 athletes qualify for the season-ending Valley meet.
Out of those 22 competitors, they got 14 medals.
This is such an amazing season for a team that has no home track at all. "We just have a big field that we run in. We also have a portable high jump mat that we use for the jumping event. I just measure out the distances for the different races, so they can practice specific events," said their coach, Rocky Salcido. (They practice four days a week on their makeshift track.
This does not deter this team, who went to work every day to get better, keep improving. The Mustangs had a Valley Champion in the Youth Girls 200mm hurdles, Arianna Bernal. Bernal has been competing in track for the Mustangs since Kindergarten. "I just love track. I like getting PRs[personal records] and running with my friends. I just love competing," said Bernal.
They also had a second place in the Valley meet. Amber Gonzalez got second in the Midget Girls Discus event, her best finish in her track career. "I started in TK [transitional kindergarten] competing for Maple. I love the discus, that is my favorite event," Gonzalez said. It is a family affair also for Salcido, as he coaches his son Josiah, who placed in three events at Valley. Salcido placed 14th in the midget boys 800mm, 9th in the 1500mm and was a member of the midget boys 1600m Relay team that grabbed a third place medal.
Niki Espinoza, who works at Maple School, is also a proud track parent. She has a son and a daughter competing in track. Her son David was a part of that third place relay team and her daughter Darbi Espinoza won a sixth place medal in the bantam girls long Jump. It really seems that the entire track season is a family affair, as Salcido cuts a father figure for the entire team, caring for the kids as his own as they work together for a successful season.
"That is a big difference, and a big reason why they are so successful," said Espinoza. "He really cares for these kids and they love him and work hard for him because the love and care go both ways," concluded Espinoza.
In addition to the athletes, other athletes medalling at the Valley Championships were the relay team was made up of Espinoza, Salcido, Giannie Aguilar and Zander Wheeler. The Midget Girls 1600m relay team got third place. The members of that relay team were Joscelyn Pelayo, Avery Rodriguez, Ali Ruiz and Ashley Lopez. Rodriguez also got third place in the girls high jump. Gabby Gonzalez won third place in the intermediate girls shot put. Eli Gomez won 7th place in the bantam boys 1500m.
Zander Wheeler also won fifth place in the midget boys high jump.
Their season begins in March, but a lot of the kids can be seen training pretty much year round. They are a dedicated bunch who look forward to competing for their school, their parents, a coach that they love, and each other.