Jaguar teams want to do more at state championships

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Although both the girls and boys track teams at Valencia will have to replace Class 4A state placers, the two-time defending girls medley relay should be in pretty good shape.

With Kaylee Newey graduating and Aizlynn Guitterez not running track this year, the Lady Jags have Grace Vickers back after a year off and Kaitlyn Craig to provide the speed.

The boys team loses Lucas Romero, who placed third at state in the pole vault. But Nathan Jolley and Marcus Griego should fill the gap for Wes Rogers, who returns to coach the boys after doing so in 2007-08 and 2008-09.

The Jags will open their season at the Los Lunas Invite on March 9. They host the Valencia County Relays on Thursday, March 28.

Aaron Padilla, son of longtime Los Lunas track coach Larry Padilla, takes the head spot for the girls after coaching as an assistant for four years.

"I have worked with the middle and long distances as an assistant," said Aaron Padilla. "As a head coach, you have to know everything and study everything. It is hard."

Although the Lady Jags lose Janae Wolfram, Newey and Michelle Traynham, there are some throwers and vaulters that are ready to step into those big shoes.

Padilla thinks that the 4-by-400 meter should be strong, too.

Craig could qualify for state in the 100, 200, and 100 and 300 hurdles and possibly pole vault.

Kristen Traynham is looking to follow in her sister's footsteps as a part of the relay teams.

The Lady Jags are strong in the distance events.

Carisma Lovato will be a favorite in the 800 meters, but is eyeing the 1600 as well.

Vickers returns after a year off to run the 1600 and 3200.

"She didn't run track last year, but she has qualified for state every year she has run," said Padilla. "She is a leader and the perfect athlete. A coach could not ask for more."

Alicia Carbajal is going to move from the sprints to the 400 or maybe even the 800 meters.

Jensen Hatch is a strong pole vaulter who could qualify for state.

"She is really versatile," said Padilla. Khyria Sonnebend, Anna King and Traynham will compete for spots in the sprints and hurdles.

The boys team is anchored in the sprints with young runners.

Rogers noted that the strength of the Jags' boys team will be in the sprints. He said that 10 of the 20 guys out for track are in the sprints and hurdles.

"I am actually deeper this year than at any other year that in have been at Valencia," said Rogers. "We are probably 10 deep."

The athletes are all training together before breaking into specialties within the next week.

"We are trying to build the camaraderie and build a base first," said Rogers. "We are working together on speed development. Everyone is working together right now."

Sophomores Josh Burbank, D.J. Heybourne and Nate Nash lead a deep group of sprinters, that also cover the jumping events.

"This team does not have numbers, but we have quality," said Rogers. "Our sprinters will be fantastic."

Allan Quezada is the anchor for the distance runners.

"He has been working really hard," said Rogers of Quezada.


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