At West High, Pinder always knew he would have his opportunity to play football, which was of his favorite sport during his freshman year.
Soon he learned that football is just one of his talents. His mother urged him to go out for the track and field team, where the speed and agility that made him a starting defensive back and running back would also be a bonus on the track.
“I didn’t want to do it at all, but I was trying to do track to get faster for football, and she told me to stick with it,” he said. “I started to realize that I was really good at it.”
He competed in the triple jump at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters meet his sophomore year and just missed the cut for the California Interscholastic Federation state championships. He kept getting better at the event, and set a new school triple jump record at the Masters meet last year (48-4).
This year he set a new Tri-City Athletic League record (48-7) at the league meet on May 8. He now makes his second trip to the CIF state meet after he won the triple jump (47-11¼) at this year’s Masters meet on May 24 and 25.
Participation in track and field was his ticket to the University of Oklahoma, where he will join the NCAA Division I Sooners track and field team, and study kinesiology.
Pinder said that the drive to excel in athletics is part of his plan for success. He said his role as a student-athlete also required him to learn how to balance academics with workouts.
“To me doing sports isn’t just about competition,” he said. “It’s basically preparing me for life.”
“You have to keep your priorities straight, make sure you’re doing everything you’re supposed to do at the right time,” he said. “God gave me talent and it would be a sin to put it to waste, so I say to other people, if you want to be good at something you can be. Don’t give up on dreams.”
Nina Pritchett grew up loving sports, basketball in particular, and the Wolf Pack athletic teams would be her chance to make the most of the high school experience.
She’s played basketball all four years, played volleyball her first two years at West, and she joined the track and field team in her sophomore year.
“I’ve made many friends, not just in volleyball and basketball and track,” she said. “I’ve made friends on the football team, the softball team, because we all have something in common. We’re all competitive students. We all love sports.”
Pritchett has been a leading rebounder and scorer for three years on the varsity girls basketball team. She then got into the throwing events in track and field, and since her sophomore year she has made it to the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters meet all three years in the discus and two years in the shot put.
“I’ve always played basketball and that’s been my favorite sport, but the last three years doing track and discovering throwing has probably been one of my favorites. It’s an individual sport and I love being competitive just on my own.”
She’s more determined than ever to keep improving. She intends to stay with basketball and track and field when she heads to San Joaquin Delta College to begin general education studies, with a goal of eventually majoring in computer science or physical therapy at a four-year college.
“Delta is going to be a new start for me, and I hope I get the scholarship I need to go to college from there,” she said, adding that she’s learned to balance academic and athletics at West in preparation for college.
“One thing I always tell younger kids at West High is develop a study habit now and stick with that throughout high school, college, and anything you do.”