Los Lunas native sets record at Senior Games
As a student at Solomon Luna High in Los Lunas, Ross Aragon said he often found himself watching other athletes rather than playing alongside them.
“I graduated at 118 pounds and 5-foot-5, so I rode the bench,” he said. “I wanted to play so bad, but I was so little I didn’t do it. After high school I grew seven inches and gained 82 pounds. My athleticism kicked in after high school.”
That athleticism is still with Aragon, who recently turned 75 and set a national record with a throw of 39.80 meters in the javelin, placing first in that event at the National Senior Games in Cleveland, Ohio, at the end of June.
“I was in a new age group (Mens 75 to 79) so I did pretty good,” said Aragon. “I broke the record and got the gold.”
Aragon, who also placed third in the discus and fifth in the long jump — events he also excelled at the New Mexico Senior Olympics in Roswell at the beginning of June.
In that competition, Aragon placed first in the javelin, the softball throw and the discus — all in the Mens 75-79 division, which he moved up to this year.
Aragon said he normally participates in running events as well as the long jump, but was hampered by an injury before the games in Roswell during his other activity in the summer — softball.
“I pulled a groin, so I wasn’t able to do the long jump, the 50-meter dash, 100-meter dash and the 200-meter dash,” he said. “Luckily it was my left leg, so I could still plant with my right. I broke the state record by 36 feet. Then I broke the discus record and I won the softball throw. So I got three gold medals.”
Aragon, who has represented New Mexico at the last four National Senior Games, beginning with Louisville in 2007, said he loves the competition. He is a five-time state champion in handball, a sport he competed in for more than 30 years before giving it up because of back problems. But the Los Lunas native also has another motive for competing.
“I just like to be in good shape and (the competition) keeps me motivated to work out,” he said.
Besides his regular training, Aragon said he plays softball twice a week in a 50-and-over league in Albuquerque, where he lives now with his wife, Lenore.
“I can still play with them,” he said of the 50-and-over crowd. “I played in a night league, an open league, ’til I was 71. I’m a pitcher and they wanted me to pitch.”
Aragon, who graduated from the University of New Mexico after a short stint at New Mexico State University, said he’s looking forward to the next National Senior Games, slated for 2015 in Minneapolis, Minn.
“I’ll keep going until Jesus comes or I go the way of the grave,” he said. “I figure I can keep going a while. There was a guy, when I went to Palo Alto (in 2009), there was a guy, 95-years-old, and he ran the 100 meters in 17 seconds.”
Aragon is also continuing his legacy as an athlete, taking on a 58-year-old protégé in throwing events and watching his 11 grandchildren (from his and Lenore’s five children) including grandsons Derek Highhouse, who played for Del Norte High in Albuquerque, and Nick Rohlke, a Hope Christian School graduate who recently accepted a scholarship in baseball to Luna Community College in Las Vegas, N.M.
“They’re all athletes,” he said with pride.