Sweltering heat did not stop runners, vaulters, jumpers and throwers from putting in solid performances at the high school state track and field championships for classes 1A, 2A, and 3A, June 17-19 at the University of New Mexico track and soccer complex in Albuquerque.
With the temperature inching toward 100 degrees on each of the three days, athletes from Class 1A Mountainair, Class 2A Estancia, and 3A East Mountain—some who have already graduated—captured medals and climbed the podium for the first time since 2019. Nearly the entire 2020 track season, including the state championships, got canceled due to Covid-19.
During the competition for Class 1A on June 17, Mountainair performed very well with the boys’ team placing third overall and the girls placing fifth.
Mountainair’s gold medal winners were Brandon Burkeen in the boys 110-meter hurdles; Dylan Greene, pole vault; Cade Brazil, javelin; and Sarajo Griego in the girls 100m hurdles.
Griego and Greene also won silver medals in the girls 300m hurdles and the boys 300m hurdles, respectively.
Both Mountainair’s boys’ and girls’ 4x100m relay teams took second place; the girls 4x800m relay team also took second place; both boys’ and girls’ 4x400m teams placed third, and the boys 1,600m sprint-medley relay team finished third. Greene also placed third in the 110m hurdles.
Mountainair’s other top finishers were Burkeen, who placed fourth in the triple jump; the girls’ 4x200m and 1,600m sprint-medley relay teams both finished fifth; the boys 4×200 placed sixth; and Alyson Dew placed sixth in the girls’ javelin competition.
During the Class 2A competition on June 18, Estancia High School’s head track coach Eric Lucero said his team lost a few athletes to graduation and at least one to Covid.
But overall, Lucero was satisfied with the day’s outcomes.
“We did great,” Lucero said. “We had some podiums, some of our girls PR’d, Marino is the star of the show for the boys.”
Lucero was referring to Marino Rivera-Noblitt, who won silver medals in both the 100m and the 200m races. In both races he finished less than a second behind the first-place winner from Pecos.
“I gave it my all, it was a good race,” Rivera-Noblitt said after the 100m dash.
Rivera-Noblitt also took third place in the 400m race.
Some of the top highlights for Estancia’s girls athletes were Katelyn Garcia, who had a personal-best javelin throw and won a silver medal; and the 1,600m sprint-medley relay team of Anai Lopez, Sophia Sedillo, Olivia Anaya, and Jayde Perea, who also won the silver.
The 1,600m team fell behind early in the race—as far back as sixth—but caught up and took the lead with Perea anchoring the final lap. But Capitan’s anchor passed Perea down the stretch for the win.
“I was struggling, my legs were pretty dead, and I was just trying to give Jayde a chance,” said Anaya, who ran the third leg.
“I knew I had a big part of the race and I had to fulfill my part, so I just gave it my all and ran my race,” Perea said. “I definitely ran pretty hard at the beginning, almost to where I had nothing left at the end, so I just tried to fight at the end and unfortunately she did pass me, but it’s OK.”
Estancia’s other top finishers were the boys 4×200, which placed fourth; the girls 4×400 also placed fourth; Garcia took fifth in the girls shot put; and the boys 4×100 took sixth.
Estancia’s girls finished eighth overall; the boys team placed ninth.
During the Class 3A competition on June 19, East Mountain didn’t participate in a lot of events, but the small team did grab some memorable moments.
In the boys 3,200m race, graduated senior Henry Dewey held the lead going into the final stretch but was passed at the very end by Cottonwood Classical Prep’s Justin Howey.
“It was a close race, I thought I could take him but at the last second Justin came up behind me, basically right at the finish line, so we were milliseconds apart from each other and I got second,” Dewey said, adding, “It’s a good way to end high school, especially since Covid, it’s a good way to end and get some memories.”
Dewey also won the silver in the 1,600. He finished fourth in the 800.
Fellow graduated senior Derek Tarman placed third in the long jump and fourth in the triple jump, capturing school records in both events.
“I feel really good,” Tarman said. “I PR’d in both, my expectation was top-six, I definitely was not expecting top-three in long jump, so it definitely kind of surprised me.”
In the girls 400m race, Makailey MacGregor used a strong kick down the stretch to place fourth.
“My goal was to catch everybody at the end and keep some air in my lungs because I have asthma, and it’s 99 degrees outside, so you really gotta preserve your energy so you can take it in the end,” MacGregor said. “This is my first state championship, this is my first full year of track, too, so I’m super-proud, super-excited, what more can I ask for on a Saturday?”
First-year head track coach Aaron Caton, who ran track at East Mountain and holds school records in the 100m and the 200m races, and discus, said he was “extremely satisfied” with his team’s results.
“Overall, I think we did really well, a lot of PRs were made today, a lot of podium stands, and with just four kids coming to state, I think that’s pretty impressive,” Caton said, adding, “When [former head coach Phil] Keller stepped down, I had some pretty big shoes to fill, he was my mentor and this is my first time being back here since I ran here, so it’s pretty nostalgic honestly, it’s pretty awesome.”