The Tracy High Alumni Meet on Saturday was partly an athletic competition, but mostly a chance for athletes to connect their past with the high school’s future.
Tracy High graduate Joshua Williams, a member of the Class of 2010 and the school record holder in the 200-yard dash (21.22 seconds, set in 2010), arrived ready to compete. But he didn’t expect to match the accomplishments of his senior year.
“I am going to run it, but I’m nowhere near ready to run a 21.22,” he said. “I will definitely give it my best.”
It meant more that he and his brother Jordan, Class of 2011, and their father Patrick, who was one of their coaches at Tracy High, could meet with former teammates and coaches on the new track.
“It’s a great thing to come back and see everybody. To see your friends and relive some of the things that happened,” Joshua Williams said.
Also back for the day was Justin Woo, Class of 2012, who holds the school record in the pole vault (14 feet, 7 inches). Woo is now a pole vaulter at California State University, Chico, where continues to improve his marks.
“I wanted to come back and say hi to everybody, just for the friendly competition and to have some fun,” Woo said.
Tracy High track and field coach Jay Fishburn originally planned the track dedication and meet for March 1 but postponed it because of rain. About 20 athletes who had graduated within the past five or six years returned Saturday. It was also a day for this year’s athletes to compete, though they didn’t record marks or keep scores.
Others, separated from their days of athletic competition by a few more years, didn’t participate in events but still found coaches and teammates to talk to about their days as Tracy High athletes.
Louie and David Carmona, who graduated in 1978 and 1976, are part of an athletic family that included six more brothers — from the two eldest, Faustino, Class of 1965, and Joe, Class of 1967, to the youngest, John, who graduated in 1981.
“They held records here for many years,” Louie said of his two oldest brothers.
“All of us ran track and field, but our older brothers were legendary. They carried the torch for us.”
The Carmonas had a chance to talk with their coach, Hank Welch, who led the Bulldog track and field team from 1956 to 1982. Welch, 82, chatted with his former team members as he checked out the new stadium and all-weather track.
“I’m just happy for the kids in our community, that they get to go to a facility like this,” Welch said. “When I was growing up, most of the facilities were really good for back then. Now things have improved.”
Among the athletes Welch coached was Rudy Mason, Class of 1970, who was a member of a 4x440-yard relay team with Clyde Sims, Bob Stevens and Emery Celestine that went to the state finals at UCLA.
“We packed into (Coach Welch’s) old station wagon back in 1969 and he drove us to L.A.,” Mason said.
Mason’s former 4x440 teammates weren’t at Saturday’s event, but Mason still reminisced with Tracy High Assistant Principal Lyndell Hawkins, Class of 1977, whose brother Leroy, a 1971 graduate, competed alongside Mason.
Lyndell Hawkins recalled his own days as a Tracy High athlete. He still holds the school record for the long jump (23-6, set in 1977). His quest for the record took on special meaning because he beat a school record that his brother, who was unable to attend on Saturday, had set in 1971 (23-2.75).
“That was always a family thing,” Lyndell Hawkins said. “I got to call him at home one day and say, ‘Hey, I got it!’”
Hawkins added that he hoped the new stadium would bring back the enthusiasm for track and field that he and his brother experienced at Tracy High in the 1960s and 1970s and as members of the Larch-Clover Track and Field youth team run by their parents.
He said the participation on this year’s team was encouraging, and new facilities provided extra motivation.
“I just like how far we’ve come, from the dirt track and all that kind of stuff that we had to run on for years,” he said. “You’re seeing 130, 140 kids on the track team, and that’s what it used to be a long time ago.”
Contact Bob Brownne at 830-4227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.