Track season is back, and things looked almost normal last week at Moriarty High School’s first home meet in two years.
Moriarty hosted three other high schools for the first annual Pedro and Mateo Sandoval Memorial Meet, April 30. The event is named in honor of two Moriarty student-athletes who died in a car accident in January of 2020.
During a pre-meet ceremony, attended by Pedro and Mateo’s parents, Lexi and Ernie Sandoval, an introduction was read over the PA system that paid tribute to the Sandoval brothers: “This meet is held in honor of two of the best young men to ever compete in this facility. … As we kick off the Pedro and Mateo Sandoval Memorial Meet, we want to remind everyone to live by their motto, ‘Get Better Today.’”
Lexi Sandoval, wearing a Pintos green and white shirt with ‘Believe There is Good in the World’ printed across the front, said: “It’s a real honor to stay involved, and it’s good therapy to be able to see the kids—it’s good for the soul,” adding, “We may shed some tears, but they’re good tears because they’re great memories.”
Ernie Sandoval added, “We know a good portion of these kids and most of them out here were good friends with our boys, they’re like family to us.”
The 2020 high school track season got derailed due to the coronavirus pandemic and Moriarty only competed in one meet at Los Lunas. This year high school track and field around the state returned April 23, and once again, Moriarty’s first meet in 13 months was at Los Lunas.
The Pedro and Mateo Memorial Meet was the first at the school since the spring of 2019. Moriarty’s head track coach, Peter Romero, was instrumental in naming the meet in honor of the Sandoval brothers.
“It was something that I knew from the very beginning we were gonna do, just to honor two great young men,” Romero said. “And so we said we’re gonna call the first meet we host each year, the Pedro and Mateo Sandoval Memorial Meet.”
With the New Mexico Activities Association’s Covid Safe protocols in place—athletes, coaches, timers, and helpers all wearing masks, and a small number of socially-distanced mask-wearing spectators in the stands—the meet got underway.
Jumpers jumped, pole vaulters vaulted, discuses and javelins were thrown, shots were put, and runners ran around the track in long races, short dashes, and baton-passing relays.
In his first sports competition since hurting his arm during a football game in February, and competing in his first-ever track and field meet, Moriarty senior Justin Carmona won the boys long jump.
“Pretty crazy, huh? I really wasn’t expecting that at all. This is my first time doing track, but I can’t do baseball cuz of my elbow, so I thought, why not?” Carmona said, adding, “It feels great to be competing, it feels like me again, it feels natural.”
Carmona also competed in a few running events, including starting the first leg of the boys 4×400-meter relay, which his team with Christopher McGrath, David Vaquera, and Jaden Astorga-Bohanon won by more than 10 seconds.
Moriarty’s other relay crews on the boys side performed well, taking second place in the 4x200m relay with Carmona, McGrath, Astorga-Bohanon, and Gabe Sena; the crew of Sena, McGrath, William Medlin, and David Vaquera took second place in the 1,600m sprint medley relay; and the crew of Sena, Medlin, McGrath, and James Bentley finished third in the 4x100m.
Other top performers on Moriarty’s boys side were Jayden Lucero, who tied for first in pole vault; Ben McMurtrey was leading the first two laps of the 1,600m race before finishing third; he also placed third in the 800m race.
Moriarty’s runners on the girls side also fared well. The relay crew of Tessa Buck, Matea Cronin, Chelsea Stiverson, and Heaven Montano won the 4x200m race; the crew took second in the 4×100.
“It was fun, I got [the baton] and I saw two girls ahead of me, and I was like, ‘Oh yeah, I’m gonna get them,’ and then I passed them, so it was pretty fun,” Cronin said about running the second leg of the 4×200, adding, “It’s weird with the mask, but after you get used to it, it’s actually nice, it helps control your breathing.”
Cronin also placed second in the high jump; Buck took second in the triple jump; Stiverson placed third in pole vault.
In 1,600m sprint medley relay, the crew of Stiverson, Montano, Matea, and Evalinn Volk placed second; the crew of Montano, Volk, Buck, and Cronin placed third in the 4×400.
In the 3,200m race, Rebekah McMurtrey finished third.
“I was impressed with what our kids did, I saw a lot of PRs, personal records, so I’m always happy with that,” Romero said after the meet. “That’s the part I like about track—you’re always competing against yourself, and from week to week, you can see if you’ve improved. So, all in all, I thought our kids competed well.”