In the third heat of the preliminary races, facing some of the state’s stiffest competition and in scorching weather, Patterson High’s Rajheem Carrie, Matthew East, Rodney Lawson and Rajaee Delane finished sixth with a time of 42.75 seconds. All four had graduated the night before.
“We worked hard to get this far,” Delane said after the race. “Our goal was to experience this type of competition. It was an achievement to get here. We’ll go home to Patterson with our heads held high.”
California’s is the only state track meet in the nation that lumps athletes together regardless of school size or division.
Out of the field of 29 4x100 relay teams, nine qualified for the final round Saturday, June 2. The winner of the event was Sherman Oaks’ Notre Dame High, with a time of 41.12. Rio Mesa High of Oxnard was second at 41.13, and Polytechnic High of Long Beach was third at 41.30.
“This track season was one of the best for me as an athlete,” said Lawson, who will play football for City College of San Francisco in the fall. “This team had a bond. We not only practiced with each other, but we established a good team relationship off the track.”
Delane also bolted off the line in the boys 100-meter dash during last week’s preliminary races. He finished ninth in his heat with a time of 11.16 seconds and did not advance to the final round.
“My goal was to get to the finals,” said Delane, who will attend Cupertino’s De Anza College and play soccer there. “I fought hard, and as an athlete, you can’t ask for anything more than that.”
This year, the most dominant athletic team at Patterson High was an exclusive club with only four members. Carrie provided a solid first leg. East had great speed on the back stretch. Lawson ran the curve smoothly, and Delane was a top-notch sprinter.
Carrie said he knew his teammates had something good from the very start of the season. The speed and determination to be the best were both there, he said.
“The week leading up to state, we wanted to take each practice seriously,” said Carrie, who will enroll at Art Institute of California in San Francisco. “We knew we had a chance to reach state. We set that goal at the start of the season, and we worked hard to get here.”
Everything came together for the four Patterson speedsters, who shared great chemistry and trust, East added.
“It’s an honor to be here,” said East, who plans to run track at Modesto Junior College. “We were all friends before the season, but track allowed us to get even closer. It was about us helping each other and pushing each other. I’m proud of what we accomplished this year.”