YHS track team has winning attitude

The Yosemite High boys and girls track and field teams look down from a high perch, as head coach Walker Vaughn guides the boys and girls teams for his 15th season.

The track and field program has been one of the most successful at Yosemite High in the last two decades. Championships have been a standard for Coach Vaughn and staff, and the Yosemite Track and Field program is approaching league championships on the level of Ellen Peterson’s cross country program, as well as girls basketball and volleyball.

Since taking over in 2002, Vaughn and staff have won 17 league titles (10 boys and seven girls). The Vaughn era includes a 2006 CIF Central Section title in the D-III through D-V Sierra/Sequoia Division and three CIF runner-up finishes.

The girls team is coming off a NSL title last year, and the boys team placed second.

“We go into every year with the attitude that we will win league,” Vaughn said. “Some years are more challenging than others. This season, for both the boys and girls programs, we feel good about our chances. The boys will be much stronger but we are young. Although also young, I feel the girls team is stronger this year with a lot of raw talent. It should be a fun year.”

Vaughn will be capably assisted by a seasoned coaching staff this season. Sonya Mazaira will handle the throws and distance teams. Kellie Vaughn will coach the jumpers, and Ron Cox the hurdlers and vaulters.

“Our staff has been together a long time,” Vaughn said. “We trust each other and we all work together. No way we win titles without the work the staff does.”

The YHS girls team returns many top 10 all-time performers at YHS. Lauren Peterson owns top 10 all-time marks in the 100 meter high hurdles (No. 6 at 17.33) and 100m (No. 9 at 13:61).

Elyse Espe ran a 47.25 in the 300m hurdles good for No. 4 all-time. Espe had a personal best 62.7 last year in the 400m.

Gabby Stegge had a top 10 performance last year in the long jump (14-feet-10) and will run distances and sprint relays.

Katie Whitcomb is No. 4 all-time in the long jump (15-feet-7), No. 5 in the triple jump (30-feet-6), and was part of the league championship 4x100 relay team with Stegge, Espe, and Peterson. The four ran 53.79, good for fifth all-time at YHS.

Vaughn cited newcomers Riley Ashton (400m, 300m hurdles, long jump and pole vault), Seyda Taylor (sprints and high jump) and Peyton Garner (sprints) as a group that will have a big impact.

“Despite not running track before, Peyton, Riley, and Seyda have raw talent. They are going to make an immediate impact,” Walker said. “We have a solid core returning and along with Peyton, Riley, and Seyda, this team has a solid chance at league. We have team depth which is critical.”

“The boys are looking for a big improvement,” Vaughn said. “We have some great athletes and more participants than last year. It won’t be easy, but we have a talented team and are young. Our sophomores could also make a difference.”

Kevin Kirk will lead the boys in the sprints and jumps. Brian Bulawski looks strong early on in the shot and discus.

Look for sophomores Peter Martinez and Jesse De La Cruz to have an impact. While currently competing in frosh-soph, Martinez and De La Cruz could be called up to aid the varsity cause. Last season Martinez threw 44-6 in the shot put, good for second all-time for frosh-soph. Martinez threw 109-0 in the discus, No. 3 all-time.

Last year De La Cruz did it all for the frosh-soph boys, and owns all-time frosh-soph records for 100m (12.06), 200m (24.12), and pole vault (9-6).

Sanger Spring Classic

The Badgers participated in their first meet of the season at the 15-team Sanger Spring Classic on March 5. Valley track powerhouses Buchanan, Clovis West, and Redwood sent their contingents to the meet.

Despite a cold and blustery day, Vaughn felt it was a sucsuccessful first meet.

“We did well despite the conditions,” Vaughn said. “There were only 15 schools at the meet, but they were some of the best. Our girls, especially Elyse and Peyton, competed at a high level against great competition early in the year. The girls had several top 10 placements and I was especially happy with our sprinters,” Vaughn said.

Sophomore soccer standout Garner, in her first high school track meet made an early season statement by her 13.95 time (13th place) in the 100 meters and 28.4 in the 200m (11th place).

“It was her first races and she nearly broke into the top 10 in both events,” Vaughn said.

Espe ran an outstanding 51.62 in the 300m hurdles for fourth place, and had a time of 1:06.9 in the 400m.

Riley Ashton placed 7th in the 300m hurdles with a time of 53.60. Like Garner, Ashton, in her first race, gives YHS a dominating presence in the hurdles.

The team of Kara Eckstein, Espe, Garner, and Linnea Leinau took 7th in the 4x100m relay with a time of 54.57. Ashton, Eckstein, Stegge, and Espe also took 5th in the 4x400m relay (4:53.06).

Ashlee Harrell, just out of basketball, jumped 4-feet-6 to take 7th in the high jump, and Linnea Lienau took 5th in the long jump (14-0).

For the boys, Kevin Bulawski had a 7th place finish in the shot put with a mark of 40-03.

The team is at the Gateway to Track & Field meet March 18, at Buchanan High in Fresno. The Yosemite Mountain Invitational meet will be held at 3 p.m., April 1.

Yosemite Track Schedule

3-18 at Gateway to Track & Field (Buchanan) - TBA

3-22 at Sanger Easter Classic 4 p.m.

4-1 at West Coast Relays (Clovis East) - TBA

4-2 at West Coast Relays (Buchanan) 10 a.m.

4-8 Yosemite Mountain Invitational 3 p.m.

4-13 NSL Meet No. 1 - 3 p.m. - Location TBA

4-15 at Exeter Invitational 3 p.m.

4-20 NSL Meet No. 2 at Washington Union 3 p.m.

4-22 at Sanger Metric Classic 3:45 p.m.

4-27 NSL Meet No. 3 - 3 p.m. - Location TBA

4-29 at Dinuba Invitational 2 p.m.

5-4 NSL Championship at Washington Union 3 p.m.

5-11 Central Section Sequoia/Sierra Championship (Kingsburg) - TBA

5-21 Central Section Grand Masters (Buchanan) - TBA

6-3 California State Championship (Buchanan) - TBA