Track team takes home 9 first-place finishes

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Published 2004-03-10T00:00:00Z”/>


Joey Rocha<br>Staff writer

The Chico State track and field team opened its season with a two-day decathlon and heptathlon competition at University Stadium Thursday and Friday, despite battling various injuries.

The Chico Invitational included two California Collegiate Athletic Association foes in Cal State Stanislaus and San Francisco State. There were also several top community college in action including teams from Oregon and Washington as well as California.

“This is a fantastic opener, and just a great week for kids to learn and see where they have to go from here,” men’s head coach Kirk Freitas said. “The range of abilities we have on this team — from beginners to All-Americans — is impressive.”

Freitas said that while many of the walking wounded on the squad are frustrated, they know that Chico State track and field will be a force in the CCAA once they get patched up.

“We’ll take our bumps and bruises now early in the season and hopefully be firing healthy on all cylinders in about a month,” Freitas said.

While rainy weather has prohibited the team from fine-tuning certain areas, there certainly was no rust evident on Chico State phenomenon Brianna White. She finished fourth overall with 4,262 points that included victories in the 100-meter hurdles and the high jump.

Women’s track and field head coach Oliver Hanf said White’s performance sets up the All-American nicely for the rest of the season.

“What shines is the total result of Brianna,” Hanf said. “Her point total was her highest ever and really is an indication of what’s up ahead for her this season.”

The Wildcats’ Sophia Ruiz finished with 3,475 points, and teammate Ashley Rawlins collected 2,992 points despite being shut out in the javelin toss.

“Sophia and Ashley had to deal with injuries that prevented them from getting their full marks, but they’re gaining valuable experience,” Hanf said. “While some of the newcomers might not be thrilled with their overall results, they have gained an important understanding of what goes into a competition like this.”

Stanislaus’ Amanda Oliver was the overall winner with 4,616 points.

On the men’s side, Chico’s top finisher in the decathlon was Chris Greene, who finished in sixth place with 5,277 points. The Wildcats’ other entry, Vincent Boatwright, had a point total of 5,135 going into the javelin toss. Unfortunately, Boatwright was unable to compete in the final two events because of a badly sprained left ankle.

Coach Hanf said he’s optimistic about the perseverance of newcomers like Greene, a first-year student.

“I’m encouraged with the way the group competed,” Hanf said. “Many are wearing uniforms for the first time this year, and they’re dealing with the emotions and stress that comes with lining up against other competition.”

Clackamas College’s Brian Bernard won six of the 10 events to clinch a victory with 6,792 points. Bernard won the 100-meter dash, long jump, high jump and 400-meter dash.

Cody Fleming of Land Community College was second place with 6,534 points and wins in the shot put and discus.

The Chico State men’s and women’s track and field teams return to University Stadium on Saturday for the CCAA North Opener.

<em>Joey Rocha can be reached at <a href= ‘mailto:[email protected]’>[email protected]</a></em>

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