Runners gasped for air. Jumpers and throwers were soaked in sweat. One athlete admitted to throwing up between events. And everyone sought shade to escape the blazing heat.

Estancia High School hosted its District 2-2A track and field meet on June 11 with Albuquerque’s Menaul School and Santa Fe’s Academy for Technology and the Classics participating in the event.

It was the Bears’ first district track and field meet since 2019 because the 2020 season got wiped out by Covid-19, and it was the first time Estancia hosted a district meet since 2018.

And it was the Bears’ first track meet this season since returning from their recent Covid-quarantine.

The temperature was already in the low 90s at the meet’s 10 a.m. start time and continued rising with every passing hour.

“Roasting like a potato in an oven,” Estancia athletic director Stewart Burnett said about the athletes as he walked around the various events.

Throughout the day, some Estancia athletes turned in solid performances. Others experienced disappointments—like the boys relay team that fumbled the baton on an exchange and got disqualified during one of the early 4x-races.

But Estancia’s head track and field coach Eric Lucero said the district meet was just a warmup for this week’s state track and field championship meet.

“This meet’s pretty much just trying to get back from our 10-day quarantine and break off the rust from that time off,” Lucero said. “It’s just breakin’ the ice, it’s pretty much a meet to get in shape.”

Some of Estancia’s top performers who punched their ticket to the state meet were Katelyn Garcia in the throwing events, Marino Rivera-Noblitt in the solo running events, and both the girls and boys relay teams.

“Katelyn did awesome, Marino and his opens were unreal,” Lucero said of Garcia and Rivera-Noblitt.

Garcia took first place in the girls discus and shot put events, and then secured a hat trick by winning the javelin competition.

One of Garcia’s javelin throws was 97 feet, 9 inches—long enough for a win—but her next throw topped that at 103-5.5.

“That’s the farthest that I’ve ever thrown,” Garcia said. She ranks third in the state in javelin and fourth in shot put.

Rivera-Noblitt won the boys 100-meter and the 400m races; he also helped his team win the 4x200m and the sprint-medley relay races.

When asked how he felt between races, Rivera-Noblitt said, “Terrible, I just threw up.” But seconds later he added, “I feel a little better now.” And then he crushed it in the boys 400m race.

Josh Calhhon on the pole vault June 11. Photo by Ger Demarest.

Rivera-Noblitt ranks No. 1 in the 100m. He will also run in the state 200m and 400m races.

Despite being hampered by a sore ankle, Kody Larson won the boys high jump; Abelino Ortiz won the boys pole vault; and Levi Burelsmith won the boys shot put. All three will compete at the state meet. Burelsmith previously qualified in discus; Adrian Lucero qualified in shot put; Larson qualified in the 100m; and Josh Calhoon qualified in the triple jump.

The boys 4×100, 4×200, and the sprint medley relay teams will all compete at state.

On the girls’ side, Adylay Bustillos qualified for shot put; and the 4×100, 4×200, 4×400, and the sprint medley relay teams will all compete at state.

“It’s hot and our kids aren’t used to running in the heat, but we’ll have to get over that cuz we’re gonna run at the same exact time next week in Albuquerque,” Lucero said, adding, “For our boys and girls, this is pretty much exactly what we’re gonna run in state, so it’s good to kinda see what we’re doing, it’s a tune-up.”

The state track and field championships are at the UNM Track and Soccer Complex in Albuquerque, June 17-19 for classes 1A, 2A, and 3A. Class 4A and 5A are June 25-26.