Dinuba’s Mendoza joins Fresno Pacific track program

Fast-rising hurdles star signs letter of intent with Sunbirds after sweeping to Central Section Division II titles in the girls 100, 300 meter events

Dinuba High’s Avril Mendoza starts her jump on an early hurdle on the way to a first place finish in the varsity girls 300 meter hurdles in a time of 45.26 seconds at the Sanger Easter Classic Track and Field meet at Dodson Field in Sanger on March 26. The senior also clocked a PR time of 15.48 seconds to take first in the varsity girls 100 hurdles. (Jon Earnest)
Jon Earnest
Published June 11, 2024  • 
11:00 am

DINUBA – A meteoric two-year development in girls hurdles excellence paid off for Dinuba High graduate Avril Mendoza, who has signed a letter of intent to attend Fresno Pacific University on a full-ride track scholarship.

Mendoza, the Central Section Division II champion in the 100 meters (15.18 seconds) and 300 meters (43.81, later improved to 43.12) hurdles runs, officially signed her letter during a June 7 ceremony at DHS west gym. Her hurdles accomplishments, capped by a state-qualifying second place 300m hurdles finish at the May 18 Masters meet, swayed FPU coaches to offer a full scholarship.

“This year, it was like I finally got the technique so let me just execute it,” Mendoza said of her senior year success. “It just clicked in my brain. Last year, it was all about learning, form and everything. This year, it was all just about speed and getting the times that I needed. It came together more toward the end of the season.”

Avril swept both events at the West Yosemite League and WYL events, after earlier breaking 45 seconds in the 300 hurdles at the prestigious Arcadia Invitational meet. She continued lowering her PR times in the postseason, peaking in the 300 with a close second place finish to Bella Turner of Liberty-Bakersfield at the section Masters meet on May 18.

The Sunbirds’ interest in Mendoza started during her first big time at midseason, but it appeared that her track future this fall was going to be at College of the Sequoias in Visalia with some teammates. But after the section and state meets, she received a full scholarship offer from FPU that was too good to turn down.

Avril now has the opportunity to continue in track while pursuing her career goals of becoming a nurse anesthesiologist.

“Even in high school, I’ve been trying to major in nursing and taking classes for that,” she said. “I’ve been wanting to go into the medical field for a long time now. I took (biology) and it all worked out for me ultimately. I took a CNA (nursing assistant) course, and just took our license exam and got my license.”

Mendoza is joining a Sunbirds track program that is attracting premier athletes from the Central Section region. From the Fresno County region, Sanger High’s Daniel Galvez, that school’s Male Athlete of the Year, and Parlier High running star Evan Torres are both planning to attend FPU and compete in both track and cross country.

“It’s like everything falls into order,” Avril said. “It was just crazy, my entire senior year my life has just changed.”

Jon Earnest