Pojoaque's Alicia Quintana (Lane 2, third from left) took fourth place in the Class 4A girls 100-meter dash at the Class 4A-5A state track and field meet May 18 in Albuquerque. Goodard's Destiny Lawrence (left) took first. Quintana's time was 12.59 seconds.
By George Morse
Pojoaque Valley High School sophomore Alicia Quintana was faced with a challenge as a track and field athlete. She took on the challenge, worked hard and was rewarded with three medals at the 2019 Class 4A-5A state track and field meet May 17-18 at the Great Friends of UNM track and field facilities in Albuquerque.
The challenge was came not so much from other athletes as it did from the reclassification and realignment that the New Mexico Activities Association did for the 2018-2019 and 2019 -2020 seasons. Previously, there had been 6 classes and Pojoaque was in Class 4A. The reclassification cut the number of classes back to five. Pojoaque remained in Class 4A, but now they were grouped with an almost completely different group of schools than they had been competing against since 2001 and the majority of those schools were larger than Pojoaque. Most of the schools that Pojoaque had been competing against at state were now in Class 3A.
Along with competition against bigger schools came tougher state-qualifying standards. The times that Quintana would have to run were now faster than she had ever run. In the 100-meter dash, the time went from 13.1 seconds to 12.9 seconds. In the 200-meter dash, from 27.5 seconds to 26.7 seconds. In the 400-meter dash, from one minute, 02.50 seconds to one minute, 01.50 seconds.
Last season at the state meet, Quintana ran 13.41 seconds in the 100-meter dash, 27.78 seconds in the 200-meter dash and one minute, 01.52 seconds in 400-meter dash. She would have to run a lot faster this year just to qualify for state.
The progress was slow but steady. Quintana ran her first state-qualifying time in the 200-meter dash April 27 at Taos. She was down to her final chance to qualify for state in the 100-meter and 400-meter dashes May 11 at the District 2-4A meet in Moriarty. Athletes who have not qualified by time can qualify for state by finishing first or second in their events at their respective district meets. Quintana did so at the District 2-4A meet, winning the 400-meter dash and finishing second in the 100-meter dash.
At state, Quintana made it to the finals in all three events. In her first race, she flashed to fourth place with an outstanding time of 12.59 seconds. In her next race, she ran a personal record of 58. 5 seconds in the 400-meter dash, taking third place. In her final race, she took fourth place in the 200-meter dash with another great time of 26.47 seconds.
Quintana had shown that hard work and perseverance will pay off even when you face tougher competition.
“”It’s been a tough season,” Quintana said. “I had to work hard to get where I needed to be. I pushed myself even past my own limits. There were mental barriers I had to break through. I never thought I could run PR’s (personal records) against the fastest girls in the state. My coach, Chris (Roybal) was tremendous. He believed in me more than anyone.”
For the record, had Quintana been running in Class 3A, she would have won the 100-meter dash, 200-meter dash and 400-meter dash. In the 400-meter dash, where the winning time was one minute, 01.37 seconds, she would have blown away the competition by nearly three seconds.
In the 200-meter dash and 400-meter dash this year, all the runners ahead of Quintana were seniors. She may yet stand at the top of the awards podium.
Pojoaque's Alicia Quintana took third place in the 400-meter dash at the Class 4A-5A state track and field meet. Goodard's Destiny Lawrence took first and Taos Faith Powell took second (Courtesy photo).
Pojoaque's Alicia Quintana (center) with coaches Edwina (left) and Chris Roybal (Courtesy photo).