Two years ago this month, Weston Ranch senior Galadriel Mellion braced for a daunting surgery on both knees. Walking normal for the rest of her life, much less excelling in athletics, was in question.
This week, Mellion is a two-time Sac-Joaquin Section Masters champion in both the discus and the shot put. And she has her scholarship in hand at Arizona State.
File under: Work hard and dream big.
“I’m still trying to get back (to 100 percent),” Mellion said at last week’s Masters Track and Field Championships at Davis High. “I put on for my school and my family. This is my last ride.”
Mellion, along with her compelling back-story, lead a contingent of 27 qualifiers from the frontrowpreps.com’s coverage area to the CIF State Track and Field Championships – the nation’s premier prep meet -- Friday and Saturday at Buchanan High in Clovis.
Consider the mountain Mellion climbed: She was born with what is known as “knock knees.” To correct that condition, surgeons basically fractured both legs. Today, she is one of the region’s most accomplished athletes.
At Masters last week, she controlled both her events almost from the start, winning the shot put with a heave of 43 feet, 6 inches, and the next day in the discus with a 142-6.
She’ll enter state with marks in the top five in both events, ands he hopes to improve on her fifth in the shot put and sixth in the discus in 2022.
“The grind was harder this time around. I still don’t feel like I’ve totally recovered," Mellion admitted. “But I’m ready for state. I believe in myself. I’ve put in the work.”
Local athletes claimed Masters titles in nine events during the two-day program at Davis. Hughson senior Joe Lighthall successfully defended his 800-meter championship with a take-charge performance that saw him leading after three strides and winning by about 15 yards.
Lighthall, taller and more powerful than his section rivals, will be headed this fall to Brigham Young. For now, he hopes to improve on his seventh-place finish at state last year. His personal-best of 1:51.95 suggests that he’ll be a contender for a medal.
“Last year, it was ‘Make it to the finals.’ This year, I hope to win. It will be tough,” Lighthall said. “I’m hoping to go sub-1.50.”
Turlock junior Maxwell McFarlane won the Masters pole vault at 15-0, far off his PR of 16-5. That could be attributed to his competing in both the vault and the triple jump at the same time. The record shows that he’s ranked among the state’s top three and will go head-to-head against Buchanan’s hometown favorite Hilton Green (17-1) and the rest in the always unpredictable vault.
One of Saturday’s most impressive performances was recorded by Golden Valley senior high jumper Delbert Davis, who soon will play football and track at Modesto Junior College. Though he has high-jumped for barely 18 months, he cleared 6-7 for the Masters title.
But that wasn’t all. Davis made three worthy attempts at 6-9½, which would have matched David Glasgow’s 23-year-old school record and would have been a state best. His second attempt was better than good. He barely grazed the bar with his lower thigh.
“I’ll get it next week for sure. I’ll put everything I have into it,” the 6-foot-3 Davis said. “(High jump) gets my blood boiling.”
For coming through at exactly the right time, it was hard to beat Turlock long jump champion Shaylan Roy-Williams. The senior scratched in her first two attempts, which meant she had to deliver on her third just to qualify for the three-jump finals.
After passing that test, she was in fourth place as she stood on the runway for her final try. Then she delivered emphatically with a PR-matching 18-7 to edge Mountain House’s Annah Wright for the title.
“I was thinking, ‘OK, it’s now or never,’” Roy-Williams said. “I pulled it through. It was very stressful, but it gave me adrenaline.”
One of the meet’s top all-around performers was West senior Cameron Williams, who qualified for state in three events. He won the 300-meter hurdles (PR of 37.91), anchored the Wolf Pack’s victorious 4-by-100 relay quartet (senior Christian Williams, sophomore Yosef Poblano and junior Xavier Cardona Renshaw) that edged Edison for the win (41.72), and was second in the 110 hurdles.
Argonaut junior Jake Todden, who didn’t even win the Mother Lode League’s frosh-soph shot put a year ago, became a surprising Masters champion. He produced a 55-0 on his third attempt, enough to annex his school’s first Masters title in 11 years and only the third in school history.
Turlock junior Olivia Walker, like Williams of West, is state-bound in three events. She and her teammates led the 4-by-400 relay for most of the race before Christian Brothers earned the win. Walker out-leaned competitors at the tape for a contested third in the 400 and also captured a second in the high jump.
Pitman senior sprinter Joey Stout, a football star last fall, earned his trip to Clovis with runner-up finishes in both the 200 and 400. East Union senior and basketball standout Taylor Snaer, a state qualifier in the 400 last year, rehabbed a back injury this spring and placed third in the 200.