Track and Field fans on the Westside will be in for a treat on April 26 when Dos Palos High hosts the West Sierra League championships at Frankian Field. They will also see an up-and-coming Bronco freshman who has already been making his mark at several track meets.

Jesus Bon, a three-sport athlete, runs the 100-meter, 200-meter, 400-meter, and 300-meter hurdles. He recently broke the school record for the 400-meter with a time of 50.90 at the Hughson Invitational. Paul Lopez previously held it in 1986 (51.0).

Bronco head track coach Eddy Gibb remarked that the freshman is a natural in track.

“I could put Jesus into most events in our league — besides throwing — and he would most likely finish in the Top Three,” said Gibb. “Jesus has incredible speed, endurance, and can jump. I told him to have fun and choose his four favorite events since athletes can only compete in up to four. While there would be a lot of pressure and expectations put on him, I told him, more than anything, that he just needed to have fun and not burn out, and the results would follow.”

Gibb added that Bon continues to set personal records in several events every time he runs.

“He is learning more about approaches and mindsets to different events,” Gibbs explained. He is matched against students closer to his times at the big invitationals. One of the things I love most about Jesus is the extra push at the finish line. He usually beats them at the line if he is step-for-step with another runner. If Jesus can learn how to alternate jumping legs in the hurdles and to land with more spring in his step, he has a very good shot at being one of the top five 300-meter hurdlers in the valley, even this year.”

Another track star who has stood out for Dos Palos is senior Gabby Barba. She is currently first in the WSL in the 100-meter hurdles, the 300-meter hurdles, and the high jump. She and teammates Destiny Maxwell, Karina Tapia, and Illiana Iniguez are first in the 4×100 meter relay. Sophomore Cris Alvarez is also in the top three in the sprint events.

“The kids are doing great and having fun. We have a very young team, especially for the boys, and they will only continue to get better,” said Gibb.

Gibb, from Northern California, is in his third year as the head track coach. He said that the Covid shutdown hurt the program and that this is the first year the program is moving upward.

“We currently have about 26 students out for track. At our highest numbers, we were over 30, but that was reduced due to eligibility issues,” he said. “Last year, we had 17 students, so we nearly doubled in a year. Many students did not come out for track this year but have said they will come out next year.”

Gibbs ran track and cross country at Cardinal Newman High School in Santa Rosa, where health issues stopped his running.

“We put in hard practices and would train year-round on our own. I soon discovered while running that I received a heart condition from my mom, and I had collapsed twice during the cross country season. During my senior year, I had to be transported by ambulance once,” he remembered. “I didn’t run my senior year. I stopped running for the most part until graduate school at UC Merced, where I started to learn better how to manage my health condition. I got most of my event times back down to near personal records training at El Capitan High in the evenings and working out at the UC Merced gym.”

Gibb added that one of the reasons he chose to come to DPHS was the opportunity to teach and be the track coach. He also said that he is relying heavily on a group of veteran assistant coaches like Bronco track legends Howard Redding Sr. and Vincent Oglesby.

“Coach Oglesby comes to practice every day and encourages the kids to break his 100-yard and 220-yard record,” Gibb said. “Coach Bob Hanning handles the throw events, and Coach Rob Calvert has been a huge asset in recruiting kids to come out for track.”

Another coach with the program is Gibb’s wife, Favor, who is the new school district girls’ track coach.

Favor graduated from Fairfield High School and was a distance runner.

“Fairfield was one of the top track programs in the Bay Area,” said Gibb. “They would compete at invitationals on the national level. For cross country, she was used to training 10 to 15 miles every day. She is highly athletic, and she would compete in whatever events her coach needed her to, including hurdles and jumping.”

Wednesday’s WSL championships are scheduled to start at 3:30 pm. The Track & Field Boosters will be providing a full snack bar.

David Borboa