Pojoaque Seniors Finish Careers With Medals

by Staff Reporter / May 16, 2017 / comments
Pojoaque’s 400-meter relay team of Michael Ciddio (left), Daniel Rael, Ricky Sandoval and Jesiah Martinez took third place in the 4X100 relay.j Photo courtesy of Marcos G. Herrera Sports Photography

Pojoaque Seniors Finish Careers With Medals

By George Morse Sports and Outdoors

The 2017 Class 4A-6A state track and field meet marked the end of their high school careers for seven seniors on the Pojoaque Valley High School track and field teams. Fittingly, they all got to take a place on the Class 4A awards podium to receive medals.

Senior Megan Herrera began her athletic career at Pojoaque as an eighth-grader, making the decision to run for the Elkettes rather than play volleyball and basketball.  She made an immediate impact, finishing second at the then-Class 3A 2013 state cross country meet. She would go on to earn all-state honors for five consecutive years running cross country for the Elkettes.


Megan Herrera in the 1600 meter medley. Photo courtesy of Marcos G. Herrera Sports Photography

In track and field, Herrera earned her first two medals as an eighth grader in 2013 competing in the 800-meter run and as a member of the Elkettes 1600-meter medley relay team. In 2014, Herrera anchored the 1600-meter medley to a first-place finish and picked up another medal in the 800-meter run. In 2015, Herrera picked up two more medals as a member of the 1600-meter relay and the 1600-meter medley relay.

Last year, Herrera never got on to the awards podium.

This season, despite qualifying for the fifth straight year in the 800-meter run, Herrera didn’t finish in the top six and didn’t receive a medal. The last event of her career and her last chance to get a medal would be the 1600-meter medley.

Teammates Star Torres and Aubrey Aldaz would run the 200-meter legs. Mariah Naranjo would run the 400-meter leg. Herrera would anchor the relay, running the 800-meter leg.

Herrera managed to bring the Elkettes in at sixth place, earning the final medal of her career. She had earned a total of seven medals during her career.

“I’ve been able to come every single year (to state) and it’s always been a great experience,” Herrera said. “It feels heartbreaking. I want to thank my coaches (Head Coach Bob Koski, assistant coach Monica Koski). I don’t know where I’d be without them. Through all the ups and downs, highs and lows, I wouldn’t change my decision to run cross country and track. I definitely made the right decision. I want to stay running and hopefully I can compete in college.”


Arleth Beltran. Photo courtesy of Marcos G. Herrera Sports Photography

Senior Aubrey Aldaz was a member of the 2014 Pojoaque 1600-meter medley team that Herrera anchored and took first place at state. She picked up another medal in 2015, again as a member of the 1600-meter medley team. Last year, Aldaz didn’t get on the awards podium. This year, she returned to the podium along with Herrera.

“Our two seniors got to finish on the awards podium who didn’t last year,” Coach Bob Koski said.

Pojoaque picked up another medal in the 1600-meter relay, which had no seniors on it. The team of Star Torres, Espe Torres, Arleth Beltran and Mariah Naranjo took fourth place with a time of 4 minutes, 16.24 seconds


Espe Torres. Photo courtesy of Marcos G. Herrera Sports Photography

Seniors Jonathon Chavez and Terrell Calabaza had a friendly competition with each other during the 2017 track and field season at Pojoaque. Both competed in the discus and shot put events. The competition helped push both athletes into turning in state-qualifying performances this season.


Johnathan Chavez. Photo courtesy of Marcos G. Herrera Sports Photography

”We’re best friends,” Chavez said. “The competition was still there. I’d never placed (at state) until this year.”

Chavez and Calabaza began their competition at this year’s Class 4A state track and field meet May 12 in the discus Chavez earned his first medal ever in the event, taking third place with a heave of 126 feet, 9 inches.


Terrell Calabaza. Photo courtesy of Marcos G. Herrera Sports Photography

The two teammates competed in the shot put event May 13 on the second  day of the state meet. Chavez had broken Calabaza’s school record of 45 feet, 4.5 inches at the District 2-4A track and field meet May 5 in Taos with a heave of 46 feet, 3 inches.


Chavez and Calabaza competing in shot put. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

They didn’t throw that far at state. Chavez took fifth place with a heave of 42 feet, 4.5 inches. Calabaza was sixth with a throw of 41 feet, 10.75 inches. Both got on the awards podium.

Pojoaque picked up a medal in the other throwing event too. Senior Henry Roybal took sixth place with a throw of 141 feet, 7 inches.


Henry Roybal. Photo courtesy of Marcos G. Herrera Sports Photography

Senior Daniel Rael picked up his medal running the opening leg of the 400-meter relay. Teammates Jesiah Martinez, Ricky Sandoval and Michael Ciddio carried the baton after Rael and brought it home in third place with a time of 44.99 seconds.


Daniel Rael. Photo courtesy of Marcos G. Herrera Sports Photography

None of the members of the relay team had qualified for state as individuals. It was teamwork that got them their medal.

“Trusting each other,” Ciddio said. “You can’t do it with just one.”

The 400-meter relay team had improved steadily throughout the season and finished with their fastest time.

“That’s the plan,” Rael said. “That’s how our coaches trained us.”

Coach Koski changed the team several times during the season.

“We adjusted it throughout the season,” Coach Koski said. “We made the final adjustment between the preliminaries and the finals. For them to hold on and capture third was amazing. The goal this year was to get a medal with color (first, second, third) and we did.”

The final senior to pick up a medal was Dominic Roybal in the meet’s final event, the 1600-meter relay. Roybal had played baseball for Pojoaque until this season, when he decided to run track. He ran the anchor leg after teammates Ciddio, Derrick Knight and Isaiah Duran had carried the baton for Pojoaque. Roybal brought the baton home with a time of 3 minutes, 34.27 seconds in fifth place despite being cut off after the last exchange.


Pojoaque’s 1600-meter relay team of Michael Ciddio (standing left), Dominic Roybal, Isaiah Duran (sitting, left) and Derrick knight finished fifth in the 4X400 relay. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

“I definitely missed baseball,” Roybal said. “I watched my sister run and wanted to try it my senior year. I enjoyed it. I wish I could have done both.”

See below for more photos from teh State Championship.


Dominic Roybal. Photo courtesy of Marcos G. Herrera Sports Photography


Isaiah Duran. Photo courtesy of Marcos G. Herrera Sports Photography