Several local athletes had great performances at the State Track & Field meet last weekend. Above, Pojoaque’s Catherine Jiron qualified for the finals of the 100-meter dash. She earned medals n the 1600-meter relay and 1600-medley relay. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post
By George Morse Sports and Outdoors
It’s the biggest stage of the high school track and field season. It’s where an athlete wants to perform at their peak. For some local athletes, that dream came true.
Espanola Valley High School senior Karla Espinoza was at the bottom of the list of state qualifiers in the Class 5A girls discus. Her throw of 89 feet was last among the 12 state qualifiers. Espinoza had thrown farther during the season, but had never reached the state qualifying standard of 103 feet.
At the Class 5A state track and field meet, Espinoza threw the discus farther than she had all season. Her distance of 103 feet, 5 inches gave her a place on the awards podium and a third-place medal to finish off her career. The Lady Sundevils scored four points at the state meet as a team, all by Espinoza.
Espanola Valley Junior Antoin Curtis had been chasing Jared Garduno’s school record of 42 feet, 3 inches in the triple jump all season long. He qualified for state by taking first place at the District 2-5A meet May 7 in Albuquerque with a leap of 41 feet, 8.25 inches.
He flew even farther at state. With a leap of 42 feet, 6.25 inches, Curtis finally broke Garduno’s school record. Curtis placed second in the Class 5A triple jump competition. He’ll return for his senior year, looking to leap even farther and stand on top of the awards podium.
“I was feeling it at first,” Curtis said. After my third jump (the new school record), that felt pretty good.”
Pojoaque Valley High School junior Terrell Calabaza had barely qualified for the Class 4A state track and field meet. He had placed second at the District 2-4A track and field meet in the shot put to Taos High School’s John Montano. His qualifying throw of 39 feet, 5 inches was well short of the state-qualifying mark of 41- feet.
Calabaza rose to the occasion at state, setting a personal record of 42 feet, 9.75 inches and earning a fifth-place medal at state.
“I was just nervous at the beginning,” Calabaza said. “After I popped that first one, my distance kept increasing. I’m pretty happy I beat the guy from Taos.”
Although it was only good enough for sixth place in the girls 1600-meter relay at the Class 4A state track and field meet, the team of Estrella Torres, Mariah Naranjo, Jenae Bobchak and Catherine Jiron ran their best time of the year –four minutes, 17.44 seconds.
More importantly to the three underclassmen on the team, senior Jiron got to finish her career on the awards podium. Jiron began her career as an eighth-grader.
“It doesn’t feel like five years, but it was” Jiron said. “I’m so proud of my team. Everything we’ve done we had to overcome a lot. There’s no other three girls I’d rather finish my career with.”
Pojoaque Coach Bob Koski acknowledged Jiron’s contribution to the track and field program.
“She was an invaluable leader,” Koski said. “She led by example. Even when she was not feeling 100-percent, she always gave 100-percent. She will be dearly missed.”
Jiron had also been a part of Pojoaque’s 1600-meter medley relay. Running together for the first time all season, the team of Haley Perez, Naranjo, Jiron and Bobchak finished in third place with a time of 4 minutes, 24.54 seconds. It was Pojoaque’s best time of the year. It put the Elks on the awards podium in third place.
Bobchak, who earlier that day had raced to a fourth-place finish in the 800-meter run, ran the 800-meter anchor leg on the medley relay.
“I definitely feel like I’ve already run one 800,” Bobchak said. “It feels pretty great. We never ran this combo before.”
Pojoaque’s Megan Herrera (left) and Jenae Bobchak (right) competed in the 800-meter run. Bobchak finished fourth and Herrera eighth. Photo by George Morse with the Valley Daily Post
The Pojoaque boys team had been trying all season long to get one of their relay teams qualified for the Class 4A state track and field meet. They had finally done it at the District 2-4A meet, finishing second with a time of one minute, 35.79 seconds.
At state, the team of Daniel Rael, Ricky Sandoval, Tevin Flowers and Michael Ciddio ended the season on the awards podium, finishing fifth with a time of one minute, 35.83 seconds.
A key moment in the race was the third 200-meter leg by Flowers, who shot through an opening to put the Elks in medal contention.
“We basically went from seventh place to fifth place in a matter of seconds,” Coach Koski said. “We put all our focus on the 4X2 (800 meters). To finish on the podium is great.”
Pojoaque’s 800-meter relay team of Daniel Rael, Tevin Flowers, Ricky Sandoval and Michael Ciddio finished fifth. Photo by George Morse with the Valley Daily Post
For Espanola senior Marcos Flores, the ending to his stellar career was not quite up to his high standards. Flores had the second-longest qualifying throw coming into the Class 5A javelin competition at the state track and field meet of 188 feet. He didn’t quite reach that standard, finishing third with a throw of 169 feet, 9 inches.
There was not a trace of disappointment after receiving his medal. As Espanola’s quarterback, he’d led the Sundevils to their first District 2-5A football championship and a 9-2 record-the best in school history. As a member of the Sundevils basketball team, he’d scored 17 points against Capital High School, leading the Sundevils to a 36-34 victory and Espanola’s second state basketball championship.
Senior Marcos Flores finished third in the javelin for Espanola Valley. Photo by George Morse with the Valley Daily Post
There were no regrets.
“I wouldn’t have had it any other way,” Flores said.
See below for more images of local athletes at the State meet.
Pojoaque’s Michael Ciddio finished the 800-meter relay. Photo by George Morse with the Valley Daily Post
Catherine Jiron finishes the 1600-meter relay in 6th place in her last race for the Elkettes. Photo by George Morse with the Valley Daily Post
Ricky Sandoval prepares to hand off to teammate Tevin Flowers in the 800-meter relay. Photo by George Morse with the Valley Daily Post