Peggy Fleming, American figure skater and Olympic champion, said, “My sport taught me what I could do with my talents whether in the rink or in the rest of my life.” Four talented athletes from the Yuba College Track and Field team are showing what they can do in their events, and their accomplishments will leave a similar mark on their lives.
Standing next to Adam Paul, the 6’3″ 290 lbs. Shot Putter for Yuba College, you feel, perhaps, a little intimidated. However, Paul is easy-going, a little shy when being interviewed, and a person who unarguably is the best shot putter on the team. Like a dance, he spins, moving forward to generate momentum, and hurls the 16.01 pound shot put. At the Jack Albiani Invitational in Modesto, California on March 11, 2011, he threw the heavy metal ball an impressive 48’3.25″ to place second overall in the competition.
Paul, who started throwing shot put at Marysville High School, has impressed many coaches along the way. Like many of the athletes, Paul’s goal is to make the Nor-Cal Finals, and then go on to the state finals. Coach Todd Anderson said, “I have four to five guys qualified for Nor-Cal.” And, of course, Paul is one of them.
The reason Paul chose shot put is simple, he said, “I am naturally big and strong, and it doesn’t require much endurance.” Nevertheless, having endured many competitions, Paul continues to inspire others.
Olumide Coker, the 6’2″ 100 meter and 200 meter runner, competed aggressively all four years on the track and field team at Yuba City High School. Hosting Natomas at the high school on April 2, 2009, Coker placed first in the 200 meters with a time of 22.60 seconds. On March 18, 2009, he ran an 11.14 against Chico in the 100 meter. Like the previous year, he made the sub-sections, and in 2009 awarded “All League,” recognition for participating in and winning every event.
In the spring of 2010 he began attending Yuba College, and signed up for the Track and Field program. However, due to transportation and other problems, he failed to make practices. Consequently, Coker did not participate in any of the competitions.
Overcoming the problems, Coker began to show Yuba College his athletic ability. On Saturday, March 5, 2011, at CSU Stanislaus, the Kim Duyst Invitational, Coker ran 11.18 seconds in the 100 meter, and 22.95 in the 200 meter race. Coker is looking forward to the Nor Cal Finals, and said, “That’s my goal…go as far as I can. Get my time down to 10.50 or 10.60 seconds in the 100 meter. The faster my 100 meter is, the faster my 200 meters will be.”
Holding the javelin, his chiseled face staring ahead, and silhouetted against the blue sky, Matthew Horsfall appears as a Peltast awaiting the Spartan army. However, Horsfall’s enemy is within, and the objective is to throw an 800g javelin down field.
Horsfall describes himself as a big kid raised in a small town where the opportunities are few, and said, “Grades are important.” Not only is Horsfall maintaining a 3.0 grade point average, but excels at his chosen event, the javelin.
He graduated from Marysville High School in 2009, and began attending Yuba College. The freshman had an exceptional year, and made the state finals where he placed sixth. Now a sophomore, he continues the 2011 year with the same excellence. At the Ed Adams Invitational, Horsfall took the gold with a javelin throw of 178’11”.
Nevertheless, Horsfall remains realistic when it comes to comparing his athletic ability to the opportunity for education, he said, “They look for an athlete, but they see a student.”
Another local athlete, Mario Gomez graduated from Wheatland High School, and participated in Track and Field all four years capturing the 2010 Division 2 outdoor season record of 12’9″ in the pole vaulting event. Gomez said, “My parents, my mom and dad, were always there supporting me if I had a track meet. Even if they had to travel a long way, they were always there cheering.”
The 5’5″ 128 lb. athlete pointed out how blessed he felt coming to Yuba College with all new equipment: the poles and track. And, he remarked about the camaraderie of the Track and Field athletes. The Yuba College team would be the only ones in the parking lot having a BBQ, and having fun after the competitions.
Yet, on the field, Gomez is a serious competitor. The speed to sprint down the approach, plant the pole in the box, and launch himself up and over a horizontal bar is something he makes appear effortless. Out of 22 competitors at the Jack Albiani Invitational, Gomez placed 11th overall with a pole vault of 12’6″, and at the Kim Duyst Invitational ranked 9th overall with a vault of 11’9.73″.
These athletes have accomplished feats most of us will never attempt. When his high school coach urged him to pole vault for the first time, and did, Gomez said, “I cleared the vault, and it was like the greatest day of my life.” However, the rest of us will have our own accomplishments during our years at Yuba College which will stay with us a lifetime, whether it is in sports, cooking a duck ala orange, or standing in front of the class and speaking for the first time.