While there were no State qualify finished it was still an historic and memorable night for Monache’s runners at the Valley Masters track meet on Saturday at Buchanan.
The team of Jake Estrada, Devin Marino, Alberto Andrade and Monte Moore set a school record of 8:07.02 to finish fifth in the boys 4x800 relay. Moore also shattered the school record to finish fifth in the individual 800.
Estrada also fell short in his effort to become the first athlete in city history to qualify for state in three sports as he qualified for state with the Monache cross country team and in wrestling. But Estrada is just a sophomore and has two more years to accomplish the feat.
In the 4x800 Monache went up against Buchanan, the fastest team in the state and second fastest in the nation at 7:46 and a stacked field of athletes from 17 schools. Estrada opened the race with a two meter lead on the 800 meter individual winner, Noah Ray of Buchanan. That lead slowly evaporated as the pack picked up the pace.
Estrada was able to make a difficult baton pass in a crowded exchange zone to Marino and finished the opening leg in 2:03.
"Jake has the toughest leg and has to weather the storm,” Monache coach Seth Ishida said. “He contends with a lot of contact in the start, but is as tough as nails."
Marino held his ground and gave Monache some hope with a 2:02 800 meter split. Marino had to make another difficult pass to Andrade. Andrade accelerated early with a no-look baton pass to gain a second and slowly got Monache back into contention.
Hopes for State qualification were slipping away with only two teams making the cut and Buchanan and Clovis breaking away from the rest of the field.
Moore got a clean pass from Andrade and opened up with a solid 58 second lap following Andrade's 2:00 relay split. Moore was in and out of 7th place and then Edison passed with 300 meters left.
Moore responded by following and eventually passed Reedley, Clovis East and Madera South. He was able to close in on Edison, but ran out of real estate.
“Moore is usually relied upon to put the finishing touches on a dramatic comeback, but showed some signs of fatigue with only an hour's rest from his brilliant performance in the individual 800 meter race,” Ishida said.
Moore also placed fifth in that race in 1:54.52, shattering the 2015 school record of 1:55.61 held by Israel Sotelo.
"Moore is in outstanding company,” Ishida said. “Sotelo was a star student and athlete at Cal State East Bay and is the current Chief of Staff for the Tulare County Board of Supervisors.
“Moore was calm and running his own race at the back end of the pack. He let the group in front of him get into passing duels as he let them take a headwind, then he took his moment to strike at the 600 meter mark at 1:25. That's the moment you know that you have the chance for a fast time with a lot of gas left."
The four athletes in the front from Edison and Buchanan ran superb automatic state qualifying times under the 1:53.96 standard.
Moore needed that time or a third place finish to take the next step to the CIF state championship.
"This race was unusually deep and talented,” Ishida said. “Monte did a great job not jumping into the fray too early and burning out.
“He was incredibly excited after the finish and the whole field looked up at the scoreboard to see the incredible race results. It was shockingly fast.”
“Then, we had to work on the recovery, trying to recreate what he did to get us the D2 win,” added Ishida about Monache winning the Division II Valley title in the 4x800.
Also for Monache Raymundo Rodriguez placed 12th in the discus with a personal best of 148 feet 7 inches. He had 3 throws to work with from the 1st flight with the top 9 marks making finals.
“Ray was hoping for finals and was disappointed because he had been throwing 160 in practice,” Ishida said. “He was worried about his increased rotational speed taking him out of the ring and fouling.
“There is a fine line that these big guys have to manage and it is tough with only 3 throws. Ray is an incredible athlete that gets the most out of his natural ability. I am proud of what Ray has accomplished. He has matured into an elite discus thrower. He will be attending Fresno State next year, but has not decided on the future of his athletic career."
Among others to come at Valley Masters was Porterville High’s Ryleigh Schoonover in the girls 800 and Strathmore High’s Jacob Poole in the 100z Schoonover placed 16th I. 2:30.07 and Poole placed 16th in 11.10.