Starting swiftly

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The host Valencia boys track and field team took first place while the Valencia girls squad finished third at the Valencia High Invitational on Saturday.

The Jaguar boys out-scored crosstown rivals Los Lunas 101.5-73 to take first place in the 12-team track meet. County rivals Belen finished third with 67 points.

Kenn Rodriguez-News-Bulletin photo: AREA RUNNERS Aaron Valenzuela of Belen, third from the right; Arturo Trujillo of Valencia, second from the right; and Jared Garcia of Belen, first from left; start the boys 1,600-meter race during the Valencia Invitational at Valencia High School on Saturday.

The Jag girls outdistanced the Tiger girls 69-57 for third place. The Rio Rancho girls took first by the narrowest of margins, edging out Moriarty 91.5-91 in the 11-team girls competition.

“We were pretty happy with the finishes (of both squads),” said VHS girls track coach Aaron Padilla. “There was a pretty good mix between bigger and smaller schools and the competition was pretty good.”

Boys

Valencia junior Joshua Burbank took first in the 200-meter dash with a time of 22.49 and Valencia juniors Tyler McClarran and Cody Robinson finished 1-2 in the 400-meter dash with times of 51.24 and 51.40.

The Jaguar relay team in the 4×100-meter relay ran a 43.33 to take first over the Los Lunas relay team, which was less than a second behind with a 44.14.

The three Valencia sprinters, along with teammate Devon Sparkman, have already qualified as a relay team, and Burbank has also qualified individually.

After losing in Saturday’s 4×100 relay event, the Tigers turned the tables in the 4×400-meter relay, winning with a time of 3:34.65 over Valencia’s 3:34.91.

Coach Duane Toliver said his Los Lunas squad was given a lift with the incorporation of athletes such as Randy Moore, who joined the team after a successful basketball season and is a key part of LLHS’ relays.

The Jags also earned points in field events as Troy Lowe earned gold in the pole vault with a jump of 11-feet, beating out Greg Gabaldon of Los Lunas and Geroldo Gutierrez of Valencia, who finished second and third.

Jaguars Gavin Nagy and Gabe Perea finished first and second in the triple jump with jumps of 38-9 and 38-1 1/2 and Cody Robinson beat out Los Lunas’ Tyler Hanson to take first in the discus, throwing a distance of 119-11 1/2.

Los Lunas’ Daniel Hammon swept both the 110-meter hurdles and 300-meter low hurdles, taking first with times of 16.86 and 41.74, beating out Valencia’s Joshua Peasley in the 100-meter hurdles. In the 300-meter low hurdles Belen’s Brian Baldonado came in second behind Hammon and just ahead of Peasley.

“I felt we ran pretty well,” Toliver said. “Randy helped us out and Phillip did great in the hurdles and got himself qualified.”

In addition to their top spot in the 4×400-meter and second place in the 4×100-meter race, Los Lunas placed second behind Capital in the 4×200-meter. O’Maury Samuels was the top finisher in the sprints, taking third in the 100-yard dash.

Belen’s Jared Garcia and Aaron Valenzuela were top placers in the 1,600-meter run and 3,200-meter run with Garcia taking first in the 1,600 and Valenzuela tops in the 3,200.

The Eagles’ took first in the 1,600-meter medley relay with Los Lunas taking third and Valencia finishing in fourth. Among individuals, Belen’s Joseph Lash took third in the boys long jump and took third in the 200-meter dash and fifth in the 400-meter dash, while Manuel Guererro took second in the 800-meter run, just missing out on a state qualifying time.

“We’ve done a lot of good things already,” said BHS boys track coach Joseph E. Garcia, adding that his team needs to get stronger in field events “It’s a really young team, but they’re working hard.”

Girls

Valencia’s first-place finish was keyed by several individual performances. Carisma Lovato qualified for the state meet, taking first in the 3,200-meter run with a time of 12:09.08. Kristina Contratto took first place in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 17.42.

The Jaguars’ Kristen Traynham finished first in the high jump with a jump of 4-10 and third in the long jump, which was won by her teammate Cheyenne Wallace with a jump of 15-9 3/4. VHS also captured first in the 1,600-meter medley relay with a time of 4:25.90 and second in the 4×400-meter relay.

The Jags’ Peyton Linthicum and Mariah Ibuado finished second and third in the javelin throw with throws of 100-6 and 99-11, respectively.

VHS’ Lovato also picked up a third-place finish in the 400-meter dash, just ahead of teammate Sara Lopez. Corina Baca also earned points in the 1,600-meter run with a sixth-place finish, and the 3,200-meter run with a fourth-place finish.

Los Lunas’ second-place team finish was helped by Cera Chavez’ first-place finish in the 100-meter dash, Alexis Lafave’s top spot in the 200-meter dash and Bethany Hammon’s top-3 finishes — first-place in the long jump and third-place in the 300-meter low hurdles.

The Tigers also claimed gold in the 4×100-meter relay with the team of Chavez, Lafevre, Kaitlyn Thompson and Madison Casillas.

“We had some girls, like Cera and Kaitlyn, competing for the first time this year,” said LLHS girls track coach Larry Padilla. “It’s early in the season but we’re pleased with the scores an the effort.”

Belen’s top individual finisher Saturday was Brandi Quintana, who finished third in the 1,600-meter run. Eighth-grader Simone Sanchez placed in four different events — taking second in the 300-meter low hurdles, third in the 100-meter hurdles, fourth in the high jump and sixth in the 800-meter run. The Eagles girls 4×200-meter relay team took fifth.

“We have a very small team but we average about three points per person,” said BHS girls track coach Celina Rivera, pointing to consistent placers such as eighth-grader Gabriella Sanchez, sophomore distance runner Arena Lewis and junior runner Danee Bustos.

“We have some high-performing girls,” she said.