Redwood's Lissette Mendivil leads All-Bee girls track and field

The Fresno BeeJuly 9, 2012 

Redwood High's Lissette Mendivil throws in the girls discus during the CIF track and field state finals Saturday in Clovis.

ERIC PAUL ZAMORA — THE FRESNO BEE

Lissette Mendivil has the smile of a cheerleader, the pleasant personality of a young lady you want babysitting your children and the wherewithal to be a high school discus champion in the most powerful track and field state in the land -- California.

The Bee's girls Athlete of the Year in the sport also aspires to be an emergency room doctor, and apparently has the make-up to be one of those, also.

How else to explain Mendivil's response in the CIF State Championships June 2?

In 97-degree heat, in second place and trailing Arroyo Grande's Madison Jacobs by 2 feet 11 inches, Mendivil had the final throw of the competition on a field just outside Buchanan's Veterans Memorial Stadium.

Never in the first 93 years of the state meet had Redwood produced a gold medalist, boy or girl.

Never in the meet's first 36 years of girls discus competition had Tulare-Kings counties delivered a girls champion.

Three more feet to make history.

"I just stepped into the ring, took a breath, didn't think about anything and went for it," she says.

"It was a dramatic moment, really," Redwood Coach Randy Ziraldo says. "There were a lot of people there and everybody was aware. It was quiet, it was tense; you could feel it."

Mendivil, smallish in comparison to most throwers, but technically sound while combining speed, power and coordination, made her 1 1/2-rotation spin and launched the 7-inch, 2-pound rubber platter: "It was fluid and smooth, a definite improvement. But when I saw it land, I was like, 'Oh my gosh.' I wasn't sure."

She held her breath.

The digital scoreboard, as fed by laser measuring (no tape), flashed 155-10 -- precisely the 3-foot gain needed.

By one inch, she was California golden.

"I was relieved, I was excited, I didn't believe I won the way I did," says the section's only champion.

When she awoke Sunday morning in her family's north Visalia country home, "It felt like I had been dreaming. 'Wow,' I thought, 'I can't believe I won as I did, by one inch on my very last throw.' "

The next stage of her career will be on full scholarship at the University of Indianapolis, a 110-year-old, private NCAA Division II school of 5,000 students.

Mendivil, attracting national attention after placing eighth in the state in the discus as a sophomore, then progressively more after finishing third as a junior, also visited LSU.

In addition, Oregon, UCLA, Notre Dame, Florida and Duke expressed interest in the student with the 3.4 grade-point average.

But the tiny school in Indiana won.

"I loved the campus, the program, the coach, and they have my major," she says. "I intend on going into pre-med, and that was big."

Emergency room doctor?

"I don't know, just helping people in a hospital, just being there. It's something I always wanted to do."


Athlete of the Year: Lissette Mendivil

School: Redwood

Grade: Senior

She's qualified because: Became Redwood's first gold medalist in the 94-year history of the CIF State Track and Field Championships by winning the discus on the final throw of the competition. She threw 155 feet, 10 inches, winning by 1 inch over Arroyo Grande's Madison Jacobs. Mendivil was also the Central Section's only gold medalist in the meet, and she's the first Tulare-Kings counties girl to capture the state discus title in the 37 years of that competition. The 155-10 is a school record and ranks ninth in section history. Next stop: University of Indianapolis.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6366, aboogaard@fresnobee.com or @beepreps on Twitter.

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