CAPITAN – It was a showcase of local talent at this year’s Capitan Tiger Invitational, April 22, at Tiger Stadium.
Every area school was represented, as the Capitan boys and girls teams won the team titles handily.
But the real question – particularly at this late stage of the season – is how many got qualifying marks for the state meets.
Actually, no one knew the answer that night, as Capitan was using a brand new electronic timing system that was giving them fits. But by the next day, the answer was clear – not as many as the coaches would have liked.
That means a lot of athletes will likely have to get to state on the basis of their first or second finish at their district meet, which happens this coming weekend.
“We’ve made improvement this season, the thing now is for this week, being in the top two in district,” said Mescalero coach David Velasquez. “We’ve had marked improvement from one week to the next, but we’ve had gaps in our training, and the weather hasn’t been a big help.
“We’re not going to qualify on time, and probably our whole district won’t qualify on time,” he added. “Our qualifying marks are pretty tough, so we have to look at finishing first or second.”
Mescalero’s Alex Kaydahzinne was one of the few to earn a new qualifying mark, finishing second in the 3,200-meter run with a time of 10:16.41.
One group of area athletes that absolutely benefitted from the new timing system was the Capitan girls 4×100 relay team, which turned in a time of 53.33 seconds to qualify for the state meet.
“We ran it in Carrizozo, but they have to add time because of hand timing,” said Aspen Caughron, second leg of the Lady Tiger team. “We were a fourth of a second off in Carrizozo, we finally got it here.”
“They’re ecstatic about it,” said Capitan coach Becky Huey. “We were hoping our boys team could qualify too, but that’s just the way the cookie crumbles.
“We had a beautiful day, and this was the best track meet we’ve had by far,” she added. “Now we’re just waiting to see what the results are.”
For the most part, athletes that turned in qualifying performances on Saturday had already qualified and were working to better their standings in advance of the State meet, to be held May 6-7 at University of New Mexico Stadium in Albuquerque.
That includes Capitan’s Oliver Schultz, who won javelin with a state qualifying throw of 148 feet, 5 inches, but was still well short of his throw of 156-6 from the Hagerman Alfalfa Relays in March.
Also requalifying were Dakota Hazen and Aspen Caughron, with Hazen’s top height of 8-6 her best on the season. Carrizozo’s Emily Comstock also qualified at seven feet even to finish third overall.
For Hondo, this was only the second track and field appearance this season, and coach James Voight said while there were better times and marks, they all belonged to the Lady Eagles.
“We saw some improvement, but it’s mostly the girls,” Voight said. “I’m really proud of what they did.”
Hondo scored 58 points as a team, as Joyce Ann Cooper won the 800-meter run and was third in the 1,600. She also ran a leg of the 4×200-meter relay team that finished second behind Capitan.
“I ran a lot today, but we all ran hard and good,” Cooper said. “We hadn’t run a relay yet this year, so we got that out of our system.”
Corona had a full team for boys and girls this time around, including Aubrey Brandenberger with a win in the girls 300-meter hurdles, just beating Dakota Hazen at the wire.
“She (Brandenberger) did really well today, and is within a half a second of qualifying,” said Corona coach Nicky Huey. “Also, our boys medley relay finished ahead of Carrizozo. If we can get into state that way, winning at district, I’ll take it.
Corona’s boys scored 46 points on the strength of running by Sam Brown, who placed in the 100-meter run, won the 400, and was part of the medley team that was second behind Capitan. He was also second in high jump with a leap of 5-8.
“Sam has a plethora of thing he can do for us as well,” Huey said. “But we can’t kill him by making him run everything.”
Most teams will be back in Carrizozo this Tuesday for a last chance qualifier before their various district meets. Carrizozo is host to both the District 3-1A and 3-2A meets.