Aubrey Aldaz High Jump. Photo courtesy of Marcos G. Herrera Sports Photography
Track And Field Season Heating Up
By George Morse Sports and Outdoors
With Class A-3A state track and field meet just three weeks away and the Class 4A-6A state meet a week later, track and field teams are scrambling to get their athletes qualified for the state meets.
The New Mexico Activities Association establishes the times and distances for each of the six classes in the state for both boys and girls. In addition to meeting a state-qualifying time or distance, athletes and relay teams can qualify for state by finishing first or second at their respective district meets.
Espe Torres hand off to Mega Herrera in the 1600 Sprint Medley Relay. Photo courtesy of Marcos G. Herrera Sports Photography
Pojoaque Valley High School had a busy week, competing April 12 at the Sandia Prep School Sundevil Invitational in Albuquerque and at the Capital City Invitational hosted by Santa Fe High School April 15 in Santa Fe.
There were several breakout performances at Sandia Prep, led by senior thrower Terrell Calabaza. Calabaza established personal records-“PR” in track and field slang-in the shot put and the discus events. His monumental throw of 132 feet, 3 inches in the discus puts him on top of all state-qualifiers in that event in Class 4A. His heave of 45 feet, 4.5 inches in the shot has him sitting sixth in the state.
Pojoaque’s boys team qualified their first relay of the season in the 1600-meter relay. The team of Isaiah Duran, Derrick Knight, Dominic Roybal and Michael Ciddio turned in the second-fastest state-qualifying time so far in the state.
Michael Ciddio in the 200m. Photo courtesy of Marcos G. Herrera Sports Photography
The girls team improved their times in events they had previously qualified for state. The 400-meter relay team of Espe Torres, Arleth Beltran, Mariah Naranjo and Aubrey Aldaz turned in a time of 52.60 seconds. The 1600-meter relay team of Torrez, Aldaz, Beltran and Naranjo had a time of 4 minutes, 19 seconds.
At the Capital City meet, Aldaz returned to an event she hadn’t done in 23 months. A state qualifier in 2015 in the high jump in 2015, Aldaz injured her knee and couldn’t compete in the event in 2016. After regaining her form during two days of practice this year, Aldaz competed in the high jump for the first time in nearly two years (See top photo).
Limited to just six jumps, Aldaz advanced to the state-qualifying height of 4 feet, 10 inchees for her sixth and final attempt. She cleared the bar and flashed a big smile after her landing.
“It feels so good to be back,”Aldaz said. “It’s the happiest thing in the world. I kept saying to mysel’I have to do this.’”
Aldaz is also a key member of the Elkettes relay teams. Although Pojoaque does not yet have a state-qualifier in individual running events, the Elkettes have qualified for state in all four running relay events.
“We’re running faster times,”Aldaz said. “It’s chemistry. We know each other so well.”
Pojoaque also turned in a state-qualifying time in the 1600-meter medley relay. The team of Star Torres, Mariah Naranjo, Espe Torres and Megan Herrera finished with a time of 4:39.38. Although not as fast as a time the Elkettes ran earlier in the season with a different group of runners, it allows Pojoaque Coach Bob Koski more options in fine tuning his relays for state.
Megan Herrera hands off to Jenae Bobchak in the 4×4. Photo courtesy of Marcos G. Herrera Sports Photography
“The season is progressing ahead of schedule,” Coach Koski said. “We’ll be sharpening our technique, working on handoffs. The hard work has been done.”
Espanola Valley High School still has just one state qualifier. Senior Antoin Curtis remains on top of the state qualifiers in the triple jump with a leap of 44 feet, 5 inches he did earlier in the season. He won the triple jump at Capital City with a leap of 43 feet. Curtis has also qualified for state in the long jump. At Capital City, he took second place with a leap of 19 feet 8 inches. He only took one jump, opting to rest a tender ankle in preparation for the Marilyn Sepulveda Invitational meet Monday (4/17) in Albuquerque.
The Marilyn Sepulveda meet invites the top competitors in every class from across the state to compete. It’s truly a test of who’s the best in the state.
Small local high schools like McCurdy Charter School, Mesa Vista High School, Escalante High School, Coronado High School and others are looking to fine tune their execution with the goal of peaking for state.
In Class A, Coronado’s Alia Vigil, the defending state champion in the 400-meter dash, has already turned in state-qualifying times in the 100-meter dash, 200-meter dash and 400-meter dash. She has the fastest time in the 100-meter dash. Vigil is facing some stiff competition from Evangel Christian School’s Emma Cook in all the sprints and both schools compete in District 1-A.
In Class 2A, the Mesa Vista Trojans’ Frankie Ortiz leads the way, having qualified in four events. Ortiz has the fastest qualifying times in the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes. He also leads the pack with the longest state-qualifying leap in the long jump. Ortiz has also turned in the fourth-fastest, state-qualifying time in the 400-meter dash.
The Trojans’ Brian Gollas has run state-qualifying times in the 1600-meter run and 3200-meter run. Both Ortiz and Gollas were members of Mesa Vista’s Class A/2A state cross country championship team.
For the Lady Trojans, Abrianna Griego has the second fastest state-qualifying time in the 400-meter dash. Darien Halder has cleared 4 feet, 8 inches in the high jump to qualify for state.
Escalante High School, along with Mesa Vista and Penasco High Schools, competes in District 5-2A. The Lobos have qualified two relays for state. Escalante’s boys 400-meter relay and its girls 400-meter relay have both recorded state-qualifying times.
In individual events, hurdler Andres Blea has qualified in both the 110-meter hurdles and the 300-meter hurdles. Sprinter Anthony Paul Martinez has qualified in the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes. Waylon Hinds has also qualified in the 200-meter dash.
For the Lady Lobos, Hailey Whitaker has qualified in the 100-meter hurdles. Whitaker has cleared the bar at 4 feet, 8 inches to qualify in the high jump. Tori Salazar has the fourth-longest heave in the shot put to qualify for state.
Penasco has turned in a state-qualifying time in the 1600-meter medley relay. Carly Gonzales has a state-qualifying time in the 3200-meter run for the Lady Panthers.
McCurdy Charter School competes in District 2-3A, where they will go head-to-head against a strong Santa Fe Prep track and field team.
Sprints are the Bobcats’ best events. Gabriel Huerta has state-qualifying times in the 100-meter dash and 200-meter dash. Ernesto Martinez has also qualified in the 100-meter dash.
Departing from that pattern, Jayson Bustos has the second-fastest state-qualifying time in the 800-meter run.
The Lady Bobcats found themselves a female sprinter at the Questa Wildcat Relay April 8 at Questa. Running for the first time this season, Alyssa Edmunds won both the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes. She turned in state-qualifying times in both events.
With the exception of Coronado, all of the above small schools, along with Dulce High School, Pecos High School, Mora High School and Questa High School, will be competing at the Northern Rio Grande track and field meet Saturday at Penasco. Pecos is the defending Class 3A state champion. More state-qualifying performances will likely be turned in at the Northern Rio Grande.
All of these schools should add more state qualifiers after their respective district meets. Norther New Mexico small schools should be well-represented at state.
See below for more photos from the Pojoaque meet.
MGH5728-Espe Torres hand off to Mega Herrera in the 1600 Sprint Medley Relay. Photo courtesy of Marcos G. Herrera Sports Photography
MGH5739-Megan Herrera in the 800 anchor leg of the 1600 Sprint Medley Relay. Photo courtesy of Marcos G. Herrera Sports Photography