Track and field athletes poised to perform in shot put and discus at Masters Meet

West Ranch's Natalie Ramirez throws the discus at the Foothill League track and field finals at College of the Canyons on Thursday, May 4, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

The Foothill League is no stranger to talented discus throwers and shot putters.

But this year’s volume of throwers heading to today’s CIF-Southern Section Masters Meet at Arcadia High is something new.

Golden Valley’s Shyann Franklin and West Ranch’s Natalie Ramirez will compete in both the shot put and discus. Canyon’s Gabby Sanchez will be in discus.

Gabriel Coronado of Golden Valley and Blake Walkowiak of Saugus will make an appearance in the boys discus event.

Yes, that’s a lot of people. But a number of female throwing events that Foothill League athletes will see is atypical.

Golden Valley’s Shyann Franklin throws the shot put at the CIF-Southern Section track and field finals at Cerritos College on Saturday, May 20, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

“The guys are pretty consistent,” said West Ranch throwing coach Dave Bultman. “We’ve got Blake and we’ve got Gabriel who moved on to Masters, which is very good.

“But in particular, the girls having three girls from three different schools moving on to Masters, that is definitely not typical and it just speaks to the quality of throwers at the various schools but also the talent of the athletes.”

Ramirez set a new Foothill League record in discus at the CIF-SS prelims with a throw of 148 feet, 2 inches. Sanchez broke Canyon’s record in discus at the CIF-SS finals and was also the Division 2 champion, tossing 137-05.

Bultman feels that the league shot record is also close to being cracked. Centurion Loraine Costanzo threw 46-01 in 1981 to set it.

Franklin has embraced the growth of talented female throwers.

“Having more competition makes it more fun for me,” the sophomore said. “It makes it challenging. Every day when we’re practicing, working in the weight room, we have a reason to actually be doing it now.”

“I feel like it’s showing that girls aren’t just there,” she said. “We want to get out there and be recognized by others. It’s like, ‘Wow, they really got on their game.’ I think it’s beautiful having a lot of girls out there.”

In addition to the emergence of female throwers in the Santa Clarita Valley, the way they are trained is evolving. The same can be said for the boys, too.

Saugus High’s Blake Walkowiak is one of five Foothill League throwers competing in the CIF-SS Masters Meet. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

Although the weight room remains a staple, agility and speed are emphasized.

“It’s not the big, heavyset, lumbering thrower anymore,” said Art Baldi, who currently coaches at West Ranch but has also had stints at Golden Valley and Saugus. “It’s come to the fact that they’re athletes. They can spring, they can jump. One of my old throwers could high jump 6 feet.”

The annual throwers’ 4×100 meter relay is evidence of that. Teams that are willing to participate go against each other in a traditional 4×100 to see who’s the fastest.

“It’s not about strength specifically, it’s not about technique specifically,” Bultman said. “It’s really about how do you have the best balance. Both of the two. And turn it into generating further distance of the throw.”

In addition to the throwers, two other athletes will be making the trip to the Masters Meet.

Trinity Classical Academy’s Solomon Strader will compete in the boys 400-meter race after finishing second in the Division 4 event at the CIF-SS finals.

Adaugo Oguejiofor of West Ranch will be in the high jump in Division 1. She cleared 5-03 in the finals.

Gates open at 3 p.m. at Arcadia High for spectators. Events begin at 3:30.

The top six finishers in each event and those who meet pre-determined state-qualifying marks will move on to the State Meet, which will be held at Buchanan High of Clovis on June 2 and 3.

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