County track and field teams get ready for district and state meets

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Last weekend was busy for county track and field teams, as they traveled across the state for their penultimate meet before district competition begins.

The boys and girls Valencia High Jaguars competed at the Richard Harper Memorial at Albuquerque Academy, along with the Los Lunas Tigers, while the Belen Eagles traveled south to Artesia.

Waking up on Sunday after the Academy meet, Jag coach Wesley Rogers said he had a realization.

"For the first time, we've accomplished all our goals. At the beginning of the year, our goal was to come in second in district and place in the top 10 in state," Rogers said. "I think we are going to have to move that goal up, since we out paced it."

During this, a rebuilding year for the team, Rogers said they are now shooting for placing in the top six at state.

"The boys see the vision, are really focused and are doing everything in their power to realize those dreams," he said. "So it's time to reevaluate."

The big accomplishment at the Richard Harper meet was qualifying for the 4 by 200 in what Rogers called an "outstanding fashion" in 1:30.78, nailing down the second fastest time in the state.

"We qualified that and put ourselves into a phenomenal position for state," he said.

The last 4 by 200 time was 1:34.5, a full four seconds slower.

The Jag 4 by 100 ran a 43.33, .13 off the school record, which could translate into at least a third place at state.

Rogers said senior Cody Robinson qualified in the 400 meter with 51:20, putting him at No. 6 in the state.

There was also a young standout that bears watching in the coming years — eighth grader Devon Sparksman. He ran in his first meet at Academy, Rogers said, smashing through and qualifying for the 100 meter with a time of 10.86.

"That was only the second time in his life that he used spikes or blocks," Rogers said.

Troy Lowe hit an 11 foot plus pole vault, putting him second in the district, and Gerodeo Gutirrez came in with a nine-foot, six-inch vault.

Rogers said overall the boys are showing improvement at each meet and their relays and medley are getting faster.

"We went from being one of worst teams in the district to one of the best," Rogers said. "The whole team has worked hard, and I'm proud of them."

Girls coach Aaron Padilla called the Academy meet their second best only after the Lady Jags' home meet. While the results of the Richard Harper Memorial aren't too impressive on paper, Padilla points out there were 21 teams, a lot of them 5A.

"We had a lot of personal records, where someone beat the best time they ever had. And that's a big deal," Padilla said. "The majority of the girls got PRs, so we are peaking at the right time of year. At district, we want to be at our best."

At Academy, the Lady Jags qualified their medley relay, the first of the year, beating the qualifying time by seven seconds and were only two seconds away from qualifying the 4-by-400.

"I was pleased with their performance and I'm hoping to get the four by four into state by district," Padilla said.

The coach said probably the most impressive performance of the meet was from sophomore Charisma Lovato, who took third over all in the 800 meter.

"She was up against 5A and few 4A schools," he said. "She improved her time by about two seconds, with a 2:21. She could be a state champion, depending on where the other athletes are."

Both the teams' hurdlers, senior Julia Herrera and freshman Shelby Lucero, hit personal records in the 100 and 300 meter hurdles.

"Julia took first in the 100 meter hurdle. She did a lot of work and really dedicated her self to practicing," Padilla said.

Looking at this weekend's upcoming quad at Valencia High School, Padilla said he has some athletes who want to qualify events.

"Right now, everything is geared towards district. And with Belen and Los Lunas both in our district, this will be a chance to get a mark on them," he said.

Padilla said this meet is a bit more relaxed than others, so there will be the chance for the girls to try events they may not have competed in before.

"This meet is more relaxed, less stressful and with that, when you're in a relaxed atmosphere, you can get really good marks," he said. "We are looking forward to state and kids are getting excited. They are feeling really good, fresh and mentally ready to go."

The Los Lunas Lady Tigers finished their 1600 sprint medley in 4:29.79 and Mariah Doyle placed second in shot put, with a throw of 36 feet.

Randy Moore brought in a time of 51.00 in the 400 meter, while Daniel Hammon placed fifth in the 100 meter hurdles with a time of 41.26.

In the 4-by-400 meter relay, the team placed third with a 3:27.61 and in the javelin, Gregory Wortman threw for 163 feet, 5.50 inches.

The trip to Artesia was a long one for the Eagles, but boys coach Joseph Garcia says the athletes always enjoy it.

"It's a long trip. We got back the next day a little after 5 a.m. We had some kids running at 11, 12 at night," Garcia said.

"But the feedback we get from the kids is that they always enjoy that meet."

Times are improving, getting closer and closer to the qualifying, Garcia said.

Tyler Valdez bettered his time in the 1600 meter as did Jared Garcia in 3200 meter, Garcia said.

In the high jump, Denae Bustos bettered her height, too.

"Everywhere, the kids are all improving. We are looking for that," Garcia said. "We'll continue that hopefully this weekend and next weekend, at districts, give it all we have."

He is confident the coming quad at Valencia will give his team the chance to gain those few precious seconds.

"It's going to be a small meet, so it looks like we will be able to get quite a few kids to be able to run and compete," he said.

At the district meet in Los Lunas, May 10 and 11, Garcia said he expects both the boys and girls to do well.

"We have a very young team on both sides. I really think our kids will do well come district," he said. "This team has been a really good group of kids. If someone is hurt or sick, and we need somebody, someone always steps up.

"All the kids are doing well and all the coaches are really proud of all the kids. They have put in a lot of hard work all year at meets and going to practice."

Results for the Lady Eagles were not available before News-Bulletin deadline.


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