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Out of the blocks
Local track athletes shine at Honker Mini-Invite
In a secluded corner of Honker Stadium, Gridley senior Ryan Donnahoe and River Valley senior Wade DeBartolo put on a show for a much smaller audience.
As fans and teammates screamed and cheered for competitors running races around the all-weather track, Donnahoe and DeBartolo only needed each other to stay motivated.
In the finals of the discus, the two burly throwers traded blows like heavyweights, yet instead of punches, they were tossing a disc more than 130 feet.
Each thrower was given three chances in the finals to tally their best throw of the day — Donnahoe saved his best for last.
On his final toss, Donnahoe hurled the discus 149 feet, 3 inches for the meet's best mark, highlighting the opening day of track and field in the Mid-Valley area.
Donnahoe also took first in the shot put with a heave of 52 feet, 8 inches.
The grandson of longtime Gridley track coach Ed Roach, who was standing right beside the cage on Thursday, Donnahoe currently holds the top shot put throw in the state at 54-8.
Donnahoe has plenty of goals for his senior season including breaking the school records in the discus (held by his uncle), shot put (he's one foot short) and winning the Northern Section title.
"I think I did better than I thought I would today," Donnahoe said. "Hopefully, when it gets warmer I can throw way better than I did."
Athletes battled through a biting wind and low temperatures Thursday, though the rain held off. The field of teams included host Yuba City, River Valley, Marysville, Live Oak and Pioneer.
Yuba City junior Louis Mowers didn't need much time to shake off the rust from basketball season.
Only six days ago, Mowers was helping the Honkers basketball team make a postseason run. With just three days of practice under his belt, he was in the starting blocks in the 110-meter hurdles race.
Mowers took first place in 16.91 seconds.
Fellow Honker basketball player Nathan Gilming was equally impressive, besting the field in the 100-meter dash. Gilming, who had never ran the 100 before, took first in 11.83 seconds.
"It was tough when I came out to the first day of practice, it was bad," Mowers said. "Getting back into it is kind of tough, but it just came naturally."
Making her own transition is River Valley sophomore Leanne Jarvis, who competed at the CIF State Meet in cross country in the fall.
She torched the rest of the field on Tuesday in the 1600-meter race (5:28.57). She also led the River Valley girls to victory in the 1600-meter relay.
Jarvis, who was the Tri-County Conference MVP in the fall, said moving from the ever-changing terrains of cross-country season to the track is nice in the spring.
"When you're running the distance races, it's definitely a fight between your physical ability and it's a mental fight, too," Jarvis said. "You have to push yourself to keep going and push through the pain."
Yuba City senior Jose Guzman (4:45.69) took first in the boys 1600-meter run followed by R.V.'s Swarnjit Boyal (4:57.64).
Bursting on to the scene was R.V. freshman Mackenzie Arnold.
Though she's already built a reputation with her national success at the youth track level, Arnold made her presence known at the varsity level.
She took first in both the 100-meter dash (13.28 seconds) and the 100-meter hurdles (17.39 seconds).
Yuba City coach Mike Buzbee said early-season meets are a good way to find out where his team's strengths will be.
"This is where this year's stars are born," Buzbee said. "That's always exciting. There's always a new kid that you just don't expect."
CONTACT Jimmy Graben at email@example.com or 749-4791. Find him on Facebook at advarsitysports or on Twitter at @ADjgraben