For the Patterson Irrigator
SACRAMENTO— The Patterson Tigers had two athletes qualify for the Meet of Champions held on Saturday, May 3 at American River College in Sacramento.
It was an invitation only meet that is based on standards and criteria provided by the Invitational to submit teams’ individual stats.
The first session began at 11 a.m. with the Invitational Elite competing in the evening around 5 p.m. The day’s tidings were split into two portions for differing levels of performance. Other challenges were created earlier that day for moderate-level competitors to perform.
A total of five athletes were submitted from Patterson, but only two were actually selected to compete.
Due to the ongoing challenge of the trial, one boy and girl from each school were allowed to compete in select events depending on their elite progression that evening.
Daniel Kelepi and Esther Ekwueme of Patterson were both respectfully selected for the triple jump and discus open section. Kelepi also qualified for the evening invitational event for the 110-meter hurdles.
Kelepi earned the right to compete in the Meet of Champions after securing a first-place finish earlier that day in the triple jump with a distance of 43”.
In the evening meet, Kelepi also stunned the crowd by qualifying for the 110-meter hurdle, which he finished with an overall fourth-place stance.
Ekwueme also pushed hard to secure a top place, but fell short to heavy competitors. In the discus throw, Ekwueme threw 201.07” for a very strong showing. Despite the strong showmanship, Ekwueme walked away with a 10th-place stance out of 20 challengers.
Ultimately, the weather put a damper on the contestants’ overall scores, however, as many teams were concerned how the heavy gusts would hamper their chances of winning. Many teams who usually showcased stronger times, distances, leaps and throws were cut short by high winds.
Despite the overwhelming number of applicants and fellow students, Kelepi and Ekwueme charged on the field to represent Patterson in the best light possible.
The Tigers’ determination put them ahead of many Division-1 contenders from competing schools as they rubbed elbows with a few of the state’s finest entrants.
This was not lost on Coach Shellie Freres, who credited her team’s success to the highest degree possible.
“The fact that both of these athletes performed so well at this level is remarkable,” said Freres after the meet. “I’m very excited for them and for the city of Patterson.”
Jerry Colman created the Sacramento Meet of Champions in 1980 to showcase the top high school track and field athletes in the Sac-Joaquin Section. Kelepi and Ekwueme proudly represented Patterson High School in this respect.
Patterson pummels Pacheco
In their previous team track meet last Wednesday against Pacheco High, the Tigers came away with high spirits after securing first-place finishes in just about every competition. Overall, the boys varsity came away with an 81-55 score while the girls varsity won by a whopping 73-5.
These feats were not just celebrated by the upperclassmen. The boys junior varsity team also beat Pacheco with a strong lead, 70-34.
Patterson’s track and field has nearly come to an end, as the Tigers faced off Los Banos on Wednesday afternoon, May 7. The scores could not be made available before press time.
Saturday, May 10, the Tigers will compete in the WAC Championship on their own home turf at the Patterson Community Complex. From there, section champions will be named.
Randy Sawyer is the temporary sports writer for the Patterson Irrigator. He can be reached at RandySaw1@gvni.com.