After more than six hours of track and field competition, Moriarty’s boys and girls 4×400-meter relay runners closed out a long day with big wins—and helped their teams secure victories at the Moriarty Invitational on April 14.
“It’s always fun to wrap up a meet that way and to win the four-by-four [4×400-meter relay] and then win the meet,” Moriarty head coach Peter Romero said.
Moriarty’s Matea Cronin, who anchored the girls 4×400 and helped her team win by more than 15 seconds, credited her socks. Cronin usually wears red, blue and gold knee socks—what she calls her “Wonder Woman” socks—but at the meet she was wearing black and gold socks with a capital H on each shin.
“These are my “Harry Potter” socks,” Cronin said. “They make me fly.”
Cronin also anchored the 4×200 and helped Moriarty win by two-tenths of a second.
“I told you it was the socks!” Cronin said. “It was also Lila [Lionbarger], she really helped me out, she’s like, ‘She’s right there!’ and I heard them right behind me, and I was like, OK, I really wanna hit it, and I did, and actually I’m very proud of myself.”
Hundreds of student-athletes from 11 high schools ranging in classes from 2A to 5A competed in the meet. Moriarty was the overall winner with both the boys and girls grabbing first-place team finishes with 117 points and 115 points, respectively. Estancia’s boys took home a fourth-place team finish and its girls team placed seventh; East Mountain’s girls finished fifth and its boys finished 10th.
Team finishes were only part of the meet’s highlights as several area student-athletes turned in impressive individual performances, including Moriarty’s Henry Schuett, Herman Archibeque, and Bruno Vaquera who placed first, second, and third, respectively, in the boys 1,600-meter run. East Mountain’s Audria Vestal won the girls 200-meter race. Moriarty’s Molly Apodaca, Victoria Alvarado, and Lionbarger took first, second and fourth, respectively, in the girls 300-meter hurdles.
The biggest thrill for the athletes—and what the coaches like to see—is setting personal records, or “PRs,” and qualifying for next month’s state championship meet.
Moriarty’s Nicole Wells won both the girls long jump and the triple jump, but more important, she set a personal best in the long jump.
“I PR’d in long jump, yes, it’s the best I’ve ever jumped in my whole track career,” Wells said, adding, “I feel like I could’ve done a little better—you can always push yourself to do better—but for the long jump, I’m a half inch away [from qualifying for state] so it’s right there.”
“We had a lot of good runs today, there were definitely a lot of PRs,” East Mountain’s head coach Aaron Caton said. “Makailey [MacGregor], she PR’d in her 400, Gabe Woodfin PR’d, Tina Walsh, Andre Lajeunesse, so our team is pretty much on track for being peaked for the state meet.”
“I’m pretty pleased, this was a good day for us, a really good day,” Estancia’s head coach Eric Lucero said. “Josh Calhoon qualified [for state] with his triple jump, the boys PR’d in the 4×1 , qualified the 4×1, qualified the 4×2 , it’s good when you have a full team—finally.”
Calhoon, like many athletes, competed in several events, some that were scheduled back-to-back. After he finished his pole vault competition, he hustled over to the triple jump—more than the length of the football field away—arriving just in time to post a 2A state-qualifying jump of 38 feet, 1 inch.
“They were about to scratch him [from the triple jump],” Lucero said. “So I went and got him, he did his first jump, it was 37 [feet] and some change, he did his next jump and got 38-1, it was good.”
“It was a little stressful, but sometimes that stress can just push you to do a lot better,” Calhoon said. “Coach said, ‘If you don’t come over here now, you’re gonna scratch,’ so I had to jog over there and then I just had to get set right away and do my thing.”
Estancia’s Jayde Perea finished third in the girls 400—less than a half-second behind East Mountain’s MacGregor, who took second place—but Perea posted a time that qualified her for the girls 2A state competition.
“I felt like I was running in slow motion,” Perea said after the race.
Perea also anchored Estancia’s sprint-medley relay, which placed second but did not qualify for state.
“We missed qualification time for the medley by two seconds,” she said. “But I’m there in the 400, that was the ultimate goal today, I’m officially going to state.”
Moriarty’s Antonio Muñoz won the boys 100 by two-tenths of a second and the 200 by just under a second. Then Muñoz bolted to win the 400 by three seconds and grab a state-qualifying time.
“It’s a big deal, I mean, it’s the first time I’ve ever ran the 400 open, I really got after it,” Muñoz said. He also handled the anchor duties in the boys 4×400.
“He swept his opens,” Romero said of Muñoz. “For someone to win the 100, the 200 and the 400 is a big deal.”
One of the closest races of the day was the girls 100 hurdles. Apodaca won with a time of 17.90 seconds, a hair in front of teammate Lionbarger at 17.98. Immediately after the finish, the two girls embraced in a victory hug.
“It was my favorite thing, I love racing against Lila cuz we just push each other to, like, just be better and clearly it worked because we both got new PRs right there and it’s just the best thing to be able to finish with your best friend like that,” Apodaca said.
“It was a millisecond,” Lionbarger said. “It was such a fun race, let me tell you, the girl that I was just racing with, Molly Apodaca, has been my friend for over seven years and she has continued to push me to become the best athlete I could be, and I am so honored that I am point-whatever milliseconds behind her, that was such a fun race, it’s really special, it’s a really special day today.”