East Mountain High’s long-distance runners Aubri Wrye and Alex Heffelfinger combined for a school-record five individual gold medals—Wrye won three of them—while Moriarty’s Jake Flaming and Manzano’s Jordan Byrd also struck gold at last weekend’s Class 4A-6A Track and Field State Championships at the University of New Mexico’s track complex in Albuquerque.

“Five golds is the most we’ve ever won as a team,” East Mountain track and field coach Phil Keller said.

Wrye’s hat trick also set a school record and earned her the Class 4A High Point Female Athlete award at the end of the two-day meet.

Wrye claimed her first gold medal in Friday’s Class 4A girls 1600-meter race. It was Wrye’s first state title since transferring to East Mountain. She won a state title in cross country for Estancia in 2014.

“It’s emotional,” Wrye said after climbing down from the podium.

Wrye followed Friday’s feat with two consecutive wins on Saturday in the 800-meter and the 3200-meter races.

“It’s a little bizarre,” Wrye said after winning her third gold. “Just because, I don’t know, East Mountain has had so many [state champions], Amanda Bishop, Caroline [Kaufman], Amira [Cunningham], Addi [Rauch].”

The climax came in the 3200-meter race, the final individual event of the meet.

For seven of the race’s eight 400-meter laps, Wrye and teammate Rauch ran shoulder to shoulder on the inside lanes, boxing out two runners from Taos who were hot on their heels.

On the last lap, the two East Mountain girls separated themselves from the Taos runners, and then, during the final 200 meters, Wrye shifted into overdrive.

“I told myself, ‘We’ve got to break off from these Taos girls,’” Wrye said. “But, I don’t know, I guess I just knew that if I wanted to go for this trifecta thing then I would have to go, because I knew Addi was right there, too.”

Rauch finished 3 seconds behind Wrye for the silver medal.

“We told ourselves, ‘Let’s beat Amira’s record,’” Rauch said, referring to Cunningham’s school record from last year’s race. “But we didn’t, and it was like, ‘Dang it!’”

Wrye’s closest victory came earlier in the day in the 800-meter, where she narrowly edged last year’s 4A state champion Morgan Diefendorf, from Robertson High in Las Vegas.

“We hit the 200 and I looked over and it was that Robertson girl, and I knew she has a good kick,” Wrye said. But Wrye’s kick was just a little bit better.

She jetted down the final stretch, leaned her body forward across the finish line to beat Diefendorf by .13 seconds, and ecstatically punched her fist in front of her chest.

“That was a point-one-three lean,” Rauch noted afterward. “That was all lean!”

Heffelfinger won Friday’s 4A boys 3200m race by a commanding 12 seconds.

On Saturday, he placed second in the 800m—just a quarter of a second behind the winner—before winning the 1600m by a second and a half.

He said each of the races was unique, with both races on Saturday being close, but the 3200 “could not have gone any better.”

“I’ve never won on the track at state like that before,” Heffelfinger said. “The 32 was like, ‘Yeah, I got this!’”

Keller said he was happy with how his team performed, noting, “The bond that these kids have has been outstanding. I’m really proud of these kids.”

Moriarty’s Flaming won the 5A boys triple jump after breaking the school record the previous week at the district meet.

“Everybody cheering for me just motivated me to do my best,” Flaming said.

Dasha Booth took third in the 5A girls pole vault; the girls 1600m relay team anchored by Olivia Riblett nearly took the bronze but faltered down the stretch to finish fourth.

“We had a good two days,” Moriarty coach and athletic director Joe Bailey said of his team’s performance. “Our girls qualified in all of the relays, placed in two of them, and our jumpers did real well.”

Manzano’s Byrd won his second-consecutive gold in the 6A boys 100m dash. He won the silver in the 200m dash. Byrd also anchored the final leg of the 4x100m relay to help his team claim the silver.

Leota Harriman
Leota Harriman

Leota started working for The Independent in 2006, working her way up through the ranks. An employee buyout in 2010 led to her ownership of the newspaper. Leota has served on the board of the N.M. Press Association, and is currently its First Vice President. She is passionate about health and wellness, especially mental health, and loves making art. She can be reached at news.ind.editor@gmail.com.