Belen boys medley team brings home first-place medal from meet

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It was a long trip to Ruidoso for the Belen boys and girls track and field squads Saturday, but it turned out to be a fruitful one.

"A lot of kids brought back a lot of hardware," said Eagles coach Joseph Garcia. "This is one of their favorite meets to go to. It's a chance to see different teams and different athletes."

It showed in the end results as the boys finished third overall in a 7-team field with 78 points, and the girls were second in a 9-team field with 80 points. The girls were particularly impressive in finishing well ahead of Class 5A's Carlsbad.

The boys medley relay team of Xavier Armijo, Atreyu Garcia, Joseph Lash and Tyler Valdez turned in one of the biggest performances of the meet, winning in a time of 3:39.89 to earn a spot in next month's state meet.

"The medley team went all out," coach Garcia said. "Not just one of them but all four of them ran well. We were really excited."

Valdez, in a time of 4-minutes, 49.29 seconds, also led a dominating performance in the 1,600-meter run as the Eagles swept the top four spots in the event for 19 points.

The four Eagles runners finished within six second of each other, with Valdez followed closely by Aaron Romero, Jared Garcia and Manuel Guerrero.

Romero turned right around and won the 3,200 in a time of 10:33.82 to pace a trio of Eagles at the top, with teammates Jared Garcia and John Berry not far behind.

Jared Garcia, the coach's son, also turned in a noteworthy performance in the pole vault, taking second by clearing nine feet, a personal best.

On the girls side, eighth-grader Destinee (CQ) Vigil qualified for state in the 300 hurdles, taking third with a time of 49.12.

"She got it by the skin of her teeth," coach Garcia said. "But as an eighth-grader, she's doing really well."

Alexis Begay turned in another strong performance, winning the 200 dash in a time of 27.36 then adding a silver in the 100.

To top off her day, Begay soared over the 8-foot bar in the pole vault, setting a personal best by six inches to win the event and accounting for 19 points by herself in just individual events.

She also helped the 4X200-relay team take third and the 4X100 relay squad take fourth.

Gabrielle Mendoza took home the gold in the javelin with a toss of 101-feet, 5.5-inches.

"We were really pleased with the performances," coach Garcia said.

Now the team is preparing for an even longer trip as it heads to Artesia this weekend, where Belen will see a number of 5A schools.

"It's good for them to see teams that they don't see every week," he said. "This is held in the (Bulldog) Bowl and it's a great atmosphere."