In his second season at the helm of the program, coach Nate Smith is confident that with the amount of talent he has to work with, Freedom can advance even more athletes to the season-ending state meet in early June. Last year the Falcons saw two seniors qualify for the prestigious event for the first time in six seasons.
Against a notoriously tough Deer Valley team, sophomore Maria Curiel was the lone event winner for the varsity girls, claiming the top spot in the 200 meters with a time of 27.5 seconds. She also finished second in the 100 meters, clocking in at 13.4 seconds. Both of Curiel's times were personal bests.
Senior Diondre Borel was the top overall performer on the boys' side, winning both the long jump (19 feet, 4 inches) and the triple jump (39-11). He placed second in the 100 meters with a time of 11.5 seconds. Cliff Murray delivered an exciting come-from-behind performance in the 300-meter hurdles to win the event in just 45.2 seconds.
Photos by Richard Wisdom
Freedom's Caitlin Thomason practices her technique during Monday's practice. Thomason placed second in the long jump and third in the high jump against Deer Valley in the season opener.
"I thought we gave some strong efforts to start the year, especially considering the level of talent we were facing against Deer Valley," Smith said. "We had a lot of athletes participating in their first high school track meet, so I only expect us to improve as the season continues."
And improve they did. The following week the varsity girls earned the 95-37 victory over Clayton Valley, setting a program record for scoring more points in a dual meet than ever before and winning by the largest margin of victory. The varsity boys lost by just two points.
Once again Curiel and Borel delivered top performances for their respective teams. Curiel won the 200 and 400 meters while Borel won both the long jump and triple jump. Katie Rounds broke the school record in the high jump, becoming the first Freedom girl to clear 5 feet in the event. She also took first in the triple jump. Erica Johnson won the long jump and the 300-meter hurdles; and Hina Kaleialii won both the shotput and discus events. Single event winners for the Falcons include Jamee Robbins in the pole vault, Kenya Sandoval in the 100 hurdles, Hunter Simpson in the high jump, Jake Johnson in the 400 meters and Justin Nevels in the 3,200 meters. All four relay teams (boys and girls 4x100 and 4x400 meters) earned the victory over Clayton Valley.
On March 10, Freedom traveled to Danville for the East Bay Invitational, hosted by Monte Vista. The varsity boys brought home the only first-place medals, as Simpson and Trae Weeks dominated their events.
Simpson won the varsity high jump, recording a personal best height of 6 feet, 2 inches. He also tied the school record in the pole vault, clearing 10-6. Weeks placed first in the frosh-soph boys triple jump, eclipsing Borel's previous record to set a new 42-1 record of his own. Weeks also won the long jump.
The varsity boys team finally got into the win column on March 14 against Ygnacio Valley, prevailing 103-33. The varsity girls improved to 2-1 in the Bay Valley Athletic League with an 80-52 victory over the host Warriors.
Next weekend, Smith and the Falcons head to Redding for the Enterprise Hornet Invitational. Freedom makes its next home appearance on April 4 against the visiting Pittsburg Pirates.