Jag girls spectacular at VC Relays


Valencia qualified seven events for the state track meet at the Valencia County Relays held last Thursday, and hosted by both Jaguar track programs.

Mike Stearns-News-Bulletin photo: Valencia’s Jensen hatch, clears the bar in her first meet at nine feet-even to win a spot in the Class 4A state track meet to be held at University Stadium in May. Hatch was involved with the Valencia swim program until late March.

The expression from first-year Valencia girls track coach Aaron Padilla expressed everything that anyone needed to know about how successful the meet went, especially for the Jaguar girls.

“Wow,” Padilla said, smiling. “Where do I start? This is definitely the best overall meet the girls have had in the history of girls track at Valencia High School.”

Valencia finished in first place with a team score of 127, beating Moriarty with 83.5 points. Moriarty took first place team at both the Los Lunas and Belen meets.

Los Lunas finished third with 76 points, followed by Belen, 60, Ruidoso, 37.5, and Estancia with 37.

“Getting first place at our own meet is always a sweet feeling,” said Padilla. “We had seven state qualifiers, which I don’t think has ever happened in one meet.”

For Valencia, senior Kaitlynn Craig qualified for state in the 100-meter hurdles, the 300-meter hurdles and the long jump. She posted the winning total in each of those events.

“What is amazing about Kaitlynn is we haven’t worked the long jump too much because she is so versatile and is always working on different events,” said Padilla. “She is such a stud and is only getting better from week to week.”

Kristen Traynham, just a freshman, qualified in the triple jump and high jump and won both at the VC Relays.

“She was really excited to qualify in these two events,” said Padilla. “It has been her goal since day one, and she got it.”

Carisma Lovato qualified in the 800-meter run by a full three seconds. Jensen Hatch, out for her first meet since completing the Valencia swim season, qualified in the pole vault, winning the event with a vault of nine feet-even.

“Coming out and qualifying your first meet of the season is very impressive,” said Padilla of Hatch’s winning performance. “She was a big part of our team last year and I’m expecting her to do the same this year.”

The Jag coach was also excited about Lovato’s run.

“She was flying during the first quarter and I knew she was going to get it,” said Padilla. “Every week she has a goal, and it’s athletes like that who will continue to improve and compete with the best.”

Los Lunas finished third behind the host school and Moriarty, but posted some impressive efforts.

“I’m really happy with the way this team is progressing this season,” said coach Larry Padilla.

The Tiger coach is the father of Aaron Padilla of Valencia.

“This was the first meet this year that we had every girl compete,” Padilla said of his Lady Tigers. “This should prove to them that if we are a full squad week to week, we can do some pretty amazing things.”

Cera Chaves won the 100 and 200 meter races and was part of the 4-by-100 and 4-by-200 relay teams that won both events.

Kendra Lente finished second in the 800 meters and won the 3200 meters.

Belen’s Gabrielle Mendoza won the javelin and finished third in the shot put behind Mariah Doyle of Los Lunas and Valencia’s Brenda Baeza.

Aaron Padilla noted that the addition of Baeza, Peyton Linthicum and Julia Hererra from the Jaguar basketball team helped the Jags in the field events.

“We were getting no points from the throws (shot put and discus), because we just didn’t have anyone to enter in those events,” said Aaron. “Now, we have a solid four competitors that will give us points every meet.”

Padilla agreed that it was good to get all of his team together finally after basketball season and spring break last week.

“The big difference last Thursday is that we finally had our full team together,” said the Tiger coach. “It is not really that anyone person stepped up, we finally had a group of kids who could score as a team.”

Los Lunas got their 4-by-100 team qualified for state as well as Lente in the 3200. They join Alexis Lafave who has qualified in the 100 and 200 meter dashes.

Chaves’ winning times were good enough to qualify for state in both the races where Lafave had already qualified. Belen’s Allison Lehman also qualified, finishing third with a time of 12.3 seconds.

With all three county teams bunched close together in the standings of the county relays, Larry Padilla thinks it will be tight at the District 6-4A track meet, as well.

“It will be a horse race to the end,” said the veteran Los Lunas coach.

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