County runners compete at Marilyn Sepulveda Meet of Champions

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For some local track and field athletes, the Marilyn Sepulveda Meet of Champions was a chance to measure one’s self against the top competitors across the state.

Glen Rosales-News-Bulletin photo: Valencia’s Josh Burbank, center, makes the turn in the 200-meter dash Monday alongside Volcano Vista’s Joe Ortega-Searcy, left, and Alamogordo’s Devin Enslen, right, at the Marilyn Sepulveda Meet of Champions, where he finished fourth.

And for others, it was an opportunity to meet some goals.

For Los Lunas speedster Alexis Lafave, it was the former, and for distance runners Tyler Valdez, of Belen, and Carismo Lovato, of Valencia, it was the latter.

Lafave, the defending silver medalist in the 100-meter dash, took third in both the 100 and 200 in Monday’s meet at the University of New Mexico Track and Soccer Complex.

“The wind kind of messed me up a little bit,” Lafave said after registering a 12.92-second run in the 100, well off her seeded time of 12.20. “The competition was really good. It was a good run. I feel like I could have done better, but (Monday) just wasn’t my day.”

Facing the state’s best regardless of class was a bit unsettling, she admitted.

“It’s very nerve wracking to know that you’re not the only one out there with speed and endurance with a name,” Lafave said. “I’ve known some of the girls for awhile. To see them and to see how much they’ve improved put stuff on my shoulders. It was kind of scary.”

Valdez, however, welcomed and embraced that pressure in finishing fourth in both the 800 and 1,600.

“I knew there were really, really fast guys here but I just really wanted to stay toward the middle and pick it up toward the end. And just try to not let first get too far away,” said Valdez, who finished in a time of 4-minutes, 34.72-seconds in the 1,600 and followed that up with a 2:01.27 in the 800.

The 1,600 time represents a personal best for Valdez and was good enough to qualify him for next month’s state meet.

“I wanted to PR and qualify,” he said. “That’s where I set my goals and I met them. And to increase them as the season goes on for maybe a victory.”

Just getting the chance to compete was something to be savored, Valdez said, but to fare well made it even more special.

“It feels great,” he said. “I was talking to my buds about being invited. It’s top-13, top-10 in the state. You have to be something just to get here. So to place in the top group of the guys, it feels nice.”

Lovato turned in a stellar performance in the 1,600, finishing third in a time of 5:19.67, well ahead of her 10-place seed time of 5:19.67.

“It was a PR for me,” she said. “I’m happy with it. I’ve been waiting for that for a couple of weeks now, so I’m glad I finally got it.”

She attributes her success to being pushed.

“The competition was hard,” Lovato said. “I just tried to stick with them. Just stick with the head group and push at the end and don’t let myself get beat at the end.”

The meet should help her going forward, she said.

“I think it will help me at state,” Lovato said. “It will help me more mentally to push through pain, just to keep going.”

Valencia sprinter Joshua Burbank also tuned in a noteworthy performance despite entering the meet with the worst seed in the 100.

“I felt like it was a good performance. Not my best but it was a good one,” he said. “It was a fast heat. I really enjoy having the fastest guys because I feel like it brings out the best in me to run my best time.

He finished fourth in both events, but just being there was the important thing, Burbank said.

“To represent my school is a big honor to me and to show scouts and stuff that we have talent where we are,” he said. “It’s a privilege.”