Three county athletes qualify

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For Belen and Valencia thinclads, the long trip to Alamogordo on Saturday was a worthwhile endeavor.

Mike Stearns-News-Bulletin photo: Jaguar Kaitlyn Craig clears the hurdle at a recent meet. Valencia hosts the Valencia County Invitational at 3 p.m., Thursday.

While the team scores were down in the bottom half of the meet dominated by El Paso and Class 5A schools, Gabrielle Mendoza and Brenda Baeza qualified in the javelin for state, and Carisma Lovato made it in the 1600 meters.

Mendoza won the javelin for Belen with a throw of 110 feet, 1 inch; while Valencia’s Baeza was second with a toss of 106 feet, 6 inches.

“Brenda Baeza was a complete surprise because she just came out from basketball and practiced less than a week,” said Jag coach Aaron Padilla. “This is her first time being in track so there is definitely a lot of potential there.”

Lovato had been close in previous meets.

“Carisma Lovato was a second off qualifying the 1600 meters last week, so I was really happy for her that she got it by a couple of seconds,” said Padilla.

Mendoza’s win in the javelin came at the expense of several high profile 5A athletes.

“It was great to get our first state qualifier, and since we did not run relays it gave the sprinters a chance to run opens and get seed times that they had not had the chance to get,” said Belen coach Celina Rivera.

Tyler Valdez paced the Belen boys with a win in the 1600 meters. He also placed sixth in the 400 meters, behind Valencia’s Cody Robinson, who was fourth.

Valencia’s Josh Burbank continued to impress in the short sprints, finishing fourth in the 100 meters and third in the 200.

Valencia will host the Valencia County Invite this Thursday with the start time slated for 3 p.m. Los Lunas and Belen will attend.


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