Weston Ranch junior Galadriel Mellion, who won both the shot put and the discus last week at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Track and Field Championships, made school history. She was the first Cougar athlete to win at Masters and the first female to qualify for the CIF State Championships this weekend at Clovis. (Samantha Schmidt)

New knees: Weston Ranch track star prepares for historic trip to State

Ron Agostini

Weston Ranch’ s first Sac-Joaquin Section Masters champion steps into the circle on two surgically repaired knees, hopes to own a hair salon someday, and hasn’t come close to reaching her potential.

Which means that all is good right now for Galadriel Mellion.

Though her specialties – the discus and the shot put – are downright ancient, she is an athlete locked into today. A perfect place, in fact, for the first Weston Ranch female (the school opened in 2003)  to qualify for the upcoming CIF State Track and Field Championships at Clovis’ Buchanan High.

And for skeptics, Mellion has a special message: “Don’t knock it until you try it!”

Mellion, a junior, is a star in blossom. What counts is not merely her double victories at Masters last week, but how far she’s come. Simply, she was one of the breakthrough performers at the first Masters meet since 2019.

On Day 1 at Davis High, she launched 40 feet, 4 inches, for the shot put win, a performance not up to her standards.  Her mood improved the next day. She stood, discus in hand, in third place – already good enough to advance – as she prepared for the final throw of the competition.

“I really didn’t think much,” Mellion said. “I just let it go.”

And doubled her fun by winning with a toss of 137-6.

“I tell her, ‘You can be too hard on yourself. You’re coming off double knee surgery,’” Weston Ranch track coach April West said. “You’re only half-way there. Be happy where you’re at.”

Fact is, Mellion – ambitious goals and all – is happy. She is painfully cognizant of her difficult journey.

She was born with knock knees, a condition that left her literally dislocating her knee each time she threw. She underwent corrective surgery on her right knee last May, and her left last October. Each joint was secured with a plate and nine screws.

“They broke my legs for me to straighten them out,” Mellion said.

She didn’t even return to competition until about six weeks ago. And look at her now: Last week’s mark in the discus leaves her fifth among the 22 qualifiers in the state field. She’s actually ranked fourth in California by athletic.net with her 42-8 ½ to win the Valley Oak League Championships.

She enters the shot put with the ninth-best performance among the 25 entries. For now, all she wants to do is place in the top 12 during Friday’s preliminary rounds. That will vault her into Saturday’s finals and a chance for a finish on the podium (top 6).

“I know there will be girls throwing farther than me. I’m an aware girl,” Mellion said. “I’m not intimidated.”

She says, on a scale of 1 to 10, she’s about a 6 physically. She feels occasional soreness, but for the most part, her recovery is on schedule.

Consider: Before her surgeries, she reached the 160-foot mark in the discus and 44-2 ½ in the shot (West Coast Relays). Moments after her twin victories, she already looked forward to a senior campaign in full health.

“I can’t wait to celebrate the moment when it’s her time,” West said.

For all this, Mellion can thank her father.

“I was in fifth or sixth grade and running in races and finishing last and really tired,” she said. “My dad said, ‘Why don’t you try this?'”

“This” was the shot and the discus. And this summer, she will be introduced to the hammer, perhaps another tool for success.

She clearly understands that athletics could open the door toward her plans as a business major in college. The hair salon, a future box to be checked, already is on the list.  Until then, her history-making trip to Clovis will do.

“I’m still not in good shape. My body still isn’t there all the way,” Mellion said. “I’m just trying to keep it together for State.”

NOTES -- Ripon senior Anthony Sausedo, the Masters champion in the 300-meter hurdles, has decided to run in the state meet and forgo his duties as valedictorian at Ripon's commencement Friday night. "I've already accomplished what I wanted in high school. Going to state is something extra I can still do. If I didn't run, I wouldn't have the knowledge of what happened," he said. Sausedo, who will attend Stanford, plans an audio presentation for graduation and will deliver his speech to his fellow seniors at Friday morning's rehearsal. ...Twenty-two athletes from the frontrowpreps.com coverage area will compete at Friday's preliminaries. All hope to qualify for the finals Saturday night at Veterans Memorial Stadium on the Buchanan High campus.