Lindsay sends 15 athletes to the Division II Championships
By Patrick Dillon @PDillon_SGN
LINDSAY – The construction of the new track facility at Lindsay High School has not only provided better training but has changed the mind set of the program as well. A change which the Cardinals are already reaping the benefits of.
Back in February the athletes sat down among themselves and began to hash out goals for the upcoming season. While a lot of ideas came up there was one constant goal which kept reoccurring: to get as many athletes to the Division II area meet as possible. The number which they were going to shoot for was 10 athletes. Head coach Orlando Bentiez he agreed.
“I’m not going to lie I thought it was a really good goal, but it did not come from me it came from the kids,” Bentiez said.
Last Wednesday at the last Division II Area track meet the Cardinals not only met but exceed that goal. In all they had 15 athletes qualify and for many it was the first time.
The anchor man for the 4X400 relay Manuel Torres remembers the way things use to be. During the first two years of his career he had to train on the football field. Not only a different surface they could not properly measure out their handoffs. It resulted in mediocre results of a 12th place finish at last year’s area meet.
“It helped a little bit and was better than nothing, but having the track is great,” Torres said.
This year is an entirely different philosophy. The relay team had always been fast, but with the proper facilities training is something they look forward to. The results have spoken for themselves.
“We want to show everyone what Lindsay can do,” Torres said. “We are a hard-working group of athletes.”
For two first time track athletes, Marlena Gutierrez and Elijah Page, the goal was a bit awe inspiring. However, neither one of them let the pressure weight them down. Instead they took a hold of the chance and both qualified.
“I am barely joining this, and they already have high standards for me,” Gutierrez said. “Then once I threw for the first time I knew I could excel in this sport, so I pushed it.”
The softball player turned thrower knew what it was like to have a home field. The installment of the throwing pits helped Gutierrez tremendously. Now after her second-place finish in the shot put she is one of the seven athletes, including relay teams headed to the Valley Masters.
“We now have a home and we want to do even more to represent it,” Gutierrez said.
Unfortunately for Page his season has come to an end in the triple-jump. Still, his ninth-place finish at 40’ 1” was a new personal best for him. Once again having the jumping runways and sand pits gave him a reason to practice. In years past the Cardinals’ jumpers had to spend extra time at the pits during the first meets of the year to get practice in.
“Having our own facility made a big difference besides just running around the soccer field,” Page said.
The promise that Lindsay Unified School District Superintendent Tim Rooney gave when the track opened may still be a long way off. He said during the ribbon cutting ceremony that the Lindsay track story was going to be better than McFarland’s. While the Cardinals have taken the first step toward success, their numbers have dwindled down for master’s, but their future still looks bright. Even if some mishaps have happened along the way.
Due to a mistake in the ordering process no pole vault jumping poles were ordered. That meant Maria Martinez used a loaned pole to learn the event. A gracious Golden West coach gave one to the new athlete. With it she hit a personal best at the East Sequoia League Championships of 6-foot, 6-inches to take third. Now the junior is looking forward to getting her own equipment and be one of the athletes going on to the area meet next year.
“I am really excited to finish this high with it being my first year,” Martinez said.