Down to the wire
Midway through the afternoon on Saturday, the Valencia boys and Los Lunas girls track and field teams were looking at the possibility of making the awards stands at the Class 4A State Track and Field Championship meet.
But by the late afternoon at the University of New Mexico Track and Field Complex, the Jaguars’ and Tigers’ chances to medal began to recede like the sun in the west.
In the end, the Valencia boys fell short of placing third, coming in fourth with 31 points behind third place Los Alamos’ 50 points.
“We’re just trying to build a championship caliber team,” said VHS boys coach Wes Rogers. “We started at 26th in state two years ago, jumped up to ninth last year and now fourth. We’re just taking it step by step.”
The Tiger girls actually sat in third place until the final two events, falling all the way to fifth place in the final standings with 40 points behind third place St. Pius X (49) and Los Alamos (43), which both benefitted from high placements in the penultimate girls event, the 3,200-meter run.
“It was a pretty exciting weekend,” said long-time LLHS girls coach Larry Padilla. “You never know what’s going to happen at a meet. We were fortunate at district and at state that the kids did well. We’re obviously happy with the results.”
Farmington would take the boys team title with 64 points, while Aztec nipped Santa Fe 78-77 for the girls team title.
Three Valencia County individual athletes claimed multitple medals in the two-day state meet.
Valencia junior sprinter Joshua Burbank, who took gold individually in the boys 100-meter dash with a time of 10.912 seconds to win in a photo-finish over Piedra Vista’s Beau Clafton.
“It was a nail-bitter for sure,” Burbank said after the race. “At the 75 meter mark, he was a bit ahead of me. I guess it took me a little longer to hit the higher gear.”
Burbank also would take silver behind in Clafton in the 200-meter dash with a time of 21.70 and also mined gold as part of the 4×100-meter relay team along with teammates Tyler McClarran, Cody Robinson and Devon Sparkman, who took the race with a time of 42.54 seconds.
Belen sophomore Arena Lewis placed first in the 1,600-meter run Friday and second in the 3,200-meter run Saturday.
“I’d been working all season to not run from the front, because the boys make fun of me,” Lewis said. “I saw my chance to make my move.
“But Kelli (Reagan of St. Pius) passed me with 200 meters left to go and I didn’t want to let her win, so I had to sprint past her to get the win. That’s not how I run, so my coaches were surprised,” sho concluded with a chuckle.
Lewis, along with teammates Lindsay Aragon, Tanisha Montaño and Simone Sanchez also finished fourth in the 1,600-meter medley relay with a time of 4:20.85.
Los Lunas junior Mariah Doyle nabbed gold in the discus throw and silver in the shot put finals, both on Friday. Doyle’s teammate Cera Chavez also nabbed a four medals all told. The sophomore took two individual medals, scoring silver in the 200-meter dash with a time of 25.02 seconds and bronze in the 100-meter dash with a time of 12.55 seconds.
Chavez and teammates Madison Cassilas, Kaitlyn Thompson and Alexis Lafave also took second in the 4×200-meter relay with a time of 1:49.59 and third in the 4×400-meter relay with a time of 49.67.
“We all say as a team that we’re going to work as hard as we can and place as high as we can,” Chavez said. “We’ve all worked really hard this season and I think that showed this weekend.
“We have a limited numbers of girls, we hardly have any distance girls, but we all run multiple events and do the best we can,” she said.
Valencia runner Carisma Lovato also metaled in a pair of events, taking silver in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:17.42 and bronze in the 1,600-meter run with a time of 5:08.58.
“I was so nervous,” Lovato said, “I got off to too-fast of starts, I think. I had a 10-second (personal best) in the 1,600. It was the fastest I’ve ever run a mile. I was hoping for a better time in the 800-meter, but I’m pretty happy with the way things went.”
Other county medalists included Los Lunas senior Randy Moore, who placed second in the 400-meter dash with a time of 22.36 seconds; Belen eighth-grader Simone Sanchez, who took home the bronze in the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 17.47 seconds; and senior Kristina Contratto of Valencia, who took took third in the 100-meter hurdles.
A pair of relay teams also medaled on Saturday. The Valencia team of Burbank, McClarran, Robinson and Sparkman took second in the 4×200-meter relay with a time of 1:29.32.
The Belen team of Adrian DeLaCruz, Atreyu Garcia, Joseph Lash and Jared Garcia took home the bronze in the 1,600-meter sprint relay with a time of 3:40.63.