When she’s not focused on West Ranch track and field, Natalie Ramirez likes to play guitar.
“I’d say my top two favorite guitarists are Carlos Santana and Eric Clapton,” Ramirez said.
“‘Tears in Heaven’ is like, my No. 1 song. I love that song. I’ve been trying to figure out how to play it completely, but it’s such a beautiful song, you just can’t get it right.”
Just as she’s chasing perfection in a musical sense, she’s striving to be the best in shot put and discus. A characteristic that, in part, earned her the All-SCV Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year award.
Ramirez’s dedication to her craft brought her success at every level this season, including at her first CIF state meet, where she placed ninth in shot put with a throw of 40 feet, 8.75 inches.
She had the farthest throw in both shot and discus in the Foothill League in 2017, with 44-1 in the former and 148-2 in the latter.
Her discus throw is also a new Foothill League record, beating out Courtney Maduike’s 2013 distance of 146-4.
It’s a lot of individual accomplishment, but Ramirez knows that a chord makes a stronger sound than the plucking of an individual string.
“All my PRs were great and everything, but I still think that my highlight (this year) was winning league because it was such an amazing feeling to do it with my team,” she said.
After beating the Saugus girls team in the final league meet of the season, the Wildcats took home their first-ever Foothill League crown.
“That was the winning meet, so we had to cheer each other on,” Ramirez said. “That was the biggest thing, to make sure everyone was doing what they needed to do and make sure everyone is making an effort to cheer that person on.”
Ramirez is currently training for the upcoming season by lifting, throwing and drilling. All in preparation to strike a new chord in league.
“I think people are going to actually say, ‘Oh, look out, there’s West Ranch,’” she said.
“People need to know that we are coming back strong, just as strong as we did this year.”
All-SCV girls track and field team
Jaliyah Berkley, Valencia, junior
Berkley owned the Foothill League’s best times all season in the girls 100- and 200-meter dashes with times of 12.13 and 25.66 seconds, respectively. She came in first in both events at league finals and also ran on a strong Vikings 4×100 relay team.
Mariah Castillo, Saugus, junior
She’s known for her dominance during cross country season, but Castillo’s abilities earned points for the Cents in track season, too. Her season ended after placing fifth in the 1,600 and ninth in the 3,200 at the CIF-Southern Section finals, but she clocked league-best times in those distance events this season.
Cheyenne Cheshier, Valencia, senior
Cheshier competed in a plethora of events this season, but she was strongest in the high jump, long jump and triple jump. She had the top jump in league this season in the triple jump and came in first place in three out of four league meets.
Shyann Franklin, Golden Valley, sophomore
If there was a girls throwing trifecta in the Foothill League this year, Franklin was one-third of it. She was just shy of making the cut for the CIF state meet and was neck-and-neck with Natalie Ramirez for the farthest shot put throw in league.
Seanna Nalbandyan, Canyon, senior
Nalbandyan never appeared tired after any of her hurdle events. She came in first in both the 100 and 300 hurdles at the Foothill League finals and finished eighth in the 300 hurdles at the CIF-SS finals.
Adaugo Oguejiofor, West Ranch, senior
When a leg injury prevented her from jumping, the versatile Oguejiofor threw shot put. High jump proved to be her strongest event all season, clearing a league-high 5-06 this season, 5 inches above the second-highest jumper.
Bailey Pate, West Ranch, senior
This season, Pate ranked in the Foothill’s top 10 runners in the 100, 200, 400 and 800, with league-topping times in the latter two. Pate showed determination in the final league meet of the year when she placed first in the 200 and third in the 400 after bouncing back from a hamstring injury.
Gabby Sanchez, Canyon, junior
Sanchez made major strides as a thrower this year, especially in terms of technique. She made it to the CIF state meet for an 11th-place finish in discus and placed first in Division 2 in discus at the CIF-SS finals. That throw was also a new Canyon school record.