College Corner: Women’s Track and Field

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Whether on the Division I, Division II or NAIA level, four former Valencia County track stars made an impact this year on their women’s collegiate programs.

Marissa Gonzales, at New Mexico State, and Lesly Torres, of Air Force, focused on a specific event or two, while Keilli Williams, of Adams State College, and Aleona Reyes, of Jamestown College in North Dakota, excelled at several events.

News-Bulletin file photo: Now A Falcon, Los Lunas graduate Lesly Torres competes in the long jump during her 2009 senior year as a Tiger Track standout. Torres will be a captain for the Air Force track team next season.

If you know an active college athlete from Valencia County, send information to jbrooks@news-bulletin.com.

Kelli Williams

Adams State College

Williams’ freshman season was exciting for the 2010 Belen graduate as the Grizzles won both the women’s and men’s Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Championships.

Majoring in exercise science and sports management, Williams ran in the 400 meters, the 100-meter and 400-meter hurdles.

She contributed a sixth place finish in the 100-meter hurdles and a fifth place finish in the 400-meter hurdles during the Lady Grizzlies’ RMAC championship effort.

“My goal coming into the season was to break 15 seconds in the 100 hurdles and I accomplished my goal with a personal best of 14.8, which was such an amazing feeling after working so hard.”

The 400 hurdles was kind of a late addition to Williams’ report.

“I started running the 400 hurdles towards the end of the season, I only ran them twice before conference. I took off two seconds every time I ran it,” said Williams, who finished with a season best 1:06.47 at the RMAC meet.

Williams hopes to trim the time to 1:02 next season.

“This year was a huge learning experience for me. I ran with some amazing runners and the hurdlers that I was running with taught me so much,” said Williams. “I can’t wait to keep improving this upcoming year.”

News-Bulletin file photo: Clearing the Vault Bar during her 2011 senior season is Belen High graduate Marissa Gonzales. The New Mexico State sophomore-to-be was injured during track season, and she has made the Aggie cheer squad for the coming year.

Lesly Torres,

Air Force Academy

Torres had a season in which she broke several personal marks and set an Air Force Academy sophomore record in the heptathlon.

As a result, the 2009 Los Lunas High graduate has been named a team captain for 2012-13, which will be her junior campaign.

Torres set the record in the heptathlon with a 4,432-point performance at the Mt. SAC-California Invitational Multi-Event Meet. The score is the fifth best in Academy history.

Torres finished eighth at the Mountain West Conference championships with a 3,190 point total.

Torres posted the third-best outdoor high jump, at 5-foot, 6-inches, and seventh-best indoor high jump, at 5-foot, 5-inches, in Academy history and recorded a career-best outdoor mark of 5-6 at the Front Range Classic to place second.

Torres also posted career-best pentathlon marks in the 800-meter run at 2:44.85, which was adjusted for altitude; the 60-meter hurdles (9.46 seconds) and shot put (30-feet, 10.5 inches) at the indoor MWC meet.

Torres also got a career-best mark in front of the home crowd, posting a 16-foot, 10-inch long jump at the Air Force Invitational.

Aleona Reyes

Jamestown College, North Dakota

Following the indoor season, Reyes was looking forward to helping the Jimmies at least to a conference title, if not a national NAIA appearance.

But the Jamestown distance runner injured the iliotibial band in her knee and was granted a medical red-shirt for the outdoor track season. She is currently training for the upcoming cross country season after recovering fully from the injury.

The 2010 belen graduate qualified for the NAIA indoor national championships prior to the injury. She finished ninth in the 1000 meters with a time of 2:58.87 and anchored Jamestown’s 11th-place national finish in the women’s distance medley.

Reyes set a record at Olson Forum Fieldhouse in the 1000 meters winning the race with a time of 2:58.87.

She also won the mile at the Super 8 indoor meet and the 800 meters at the Cobber Duals, both with national meet qualifying times.

Reyes is anxious to get back on the track after the injury cut short her season.

“My goals for this season are pretty high, I would like to be running a consistent time (in the 5000 meters) in the low or mid 17s (minutes),” said Reyes. “I would also like to possibly win my conference meet and place somewhere between eighth to fourth at the national meet. Also, staying injury-free is another huge goal of mine.”

Coaching might be in Reyes’ future goals, but not for some time, according to the Exercise Science major.

“I have decided that I will continue running after college. I will have to wait and see how much I improve over the next couple of years, but I can guarantee you will be seeing me run many marathons, down the road,” said Reyes.

Marissa Gonzales,

New Mexico State University

While Gonzales concentrated solely on the pole vault during her freshman year, her concentration next season will be in a different direction.

“Unfortunately, I will not be competing in track this year, but I know the team will continue to do big things. For my sophomore year, I will be cheering on the sidelines, literally,” said Gonzales, who recently made the NMSU coed cheer team.

“I am very excited for this coming year. I look forward to cheering in the Pit when the Aggies play against the Lobos, as well as our other WAC rivals. One goal for this year is to compete at nationals in Daytona Beach Florida,” said the 2011 Belen graduate.

During her freshman year, Gonzales competed in four indoor meets and one outdoor one before suffering a stress fracture in her tibia.

“My previous track season was very memorable and I enjoyed competing alongside many great athletes. I did manage to get a personal best at 10-feet, where I came out of the competition at 10-feet, 6-inches,” said the Belen native.

Gonzales had her season, and personal, best finish at the New Mexico Cherry and Silver Invitational, placing fifth.

Gonzales is studying kinesiology and wants to become an occupational therapist, working with mentally-challenged children.

She is spending the summer coaching at Boardwalk Gymnastics in Belen.


-- Email the author at mstearns@news-bulletin.com.