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Eagles wiping out record book

Deep, balanced Del Oro girls set to defend title at 42nd annual home invitational today
By: Eric J. Gourley Journal Sports Writer
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LOOMIS — Noelle Latham broke a 14-year-old school triple jump record at Del Oro High’s dual meet with Nevada Union Wednesday afternoon. The junior barely had time to savor her feat before senior teammate Jessica Mixon shattered the new mark minutes later. It’s been a record-breaking spring for the Golden Eagles, whose talent and depth will be on display today when they host the 42nd Annual Del Oro Invitational. “We have at least one athlete who has broken into the top-10 all-time in every event,” head coach Jake Hardey said. “We have so much talent spread throughout the entire track and field arena.” The Eagles’ home meet traditionally marks the season’s midway point and offers athletes an opportunity to compete against 28 schools and some of the section’s best runners, throwers and jumpers before Masters next month. “It’ll be really important for us to get to race against people not just in our league,” Mixon said. “There are better people out there. As we get further along in the year it’s really important for us to challenge ourselves.” The Del Oro girls, the defending champions at their home meet, passed a major test last week when they beat Woodcreek 74-62 in a key dual meet. It was the Timberwolves’ first Sierra Foothill League loss in three years. “We have a lot of junior and senior girls who have lost to Woodcreek their entire careers and many of those girls had that meet circled on their schedule back in the fall, knowing that it was the most important meet of the year,” Hardey said. “They were focused and excited and ran with a huge amount of confidence.” School records have fallen in bunches this season. Latham, currently ranked second in the Sac-Joaquin section in the high jump and an inch away from the state automatic qualifying mark, launched 33 feet, 7 ½ inches to eclipse the old mark by two inches. Mixon, who is also a threat in the high jump, long jump, 100-meter hurdles and runs a leg of the 4x100 relay, followed Latham with a stellar jump of 33 feet, 7 ½ inches. “We’re all just really dedicated,” Mixon said. “We’re there at practice every day and we just work our hardest because we want to be the best. We have athletes that cover every single event so we’re not just strong in sprinting or field events.” Sophomore Brie Simmons, a new addition who played soccer last spring, is one of the section’s top hurdlers in both races. Junior Mackenzie Landry is one of the area’s best pole vaulters and also anchors the 4x100 relay and runs the open 100-meter dash when needed. Junior Vicki Warner is No. 3 in the section in the pole vault and often finishes 1-2 with Landry. “If they vault the way they can, they could potentially go 1-2 in the section,” Hardey said. “In terms of trying to win a section championship, that’s a huge amount of points. We’re just lucky to have so many fantastic, talented girls.” Del Oro’s boys have also benefited from some spectacular performances this spring. The 4x100 relay team of juniors Cole Pendergrass, Kenny Andri, Angelo Pasquale and senior Bryce Pratt is ranked second in the section after breaking the school record with a 42.75 at the Woodcreek dual. Pasquale is ranked in the top five in the section in the 100 and 200, and Andri is a standout in the 400. Casey Wheeler, a sophomore, has been a surprise in the hurdles. “We knew we were going to be strong this year,” Andri said. “We’ve been training a lot, pushing ourselves to the extra limit.” Senior Jesse Stafford has set new personal bests in the pole vault and senior Blake Landry is throwing the shot put over 48 feet to solidify himself among the section’s best. Today’s invitational, which kicks off at 12:30 p.m., is more about pride than personal performance, Hardey said. “The athletes are really excited to perform and host all those schools at our facility, especially on a Friday evening when the sun starts to set and they get to run under the lights,” he said. “That’s always a neat treat, and they expect to perform really well.”