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Fantastic Corona finish at State

By Todd Fuqua

Photo by Todd Fuqua Corona's Sam Brown, left, prepares to charge past Clovis Christian's Tristen Reed, May 7, to earn a state championship for the Cardinals in the medley relay at the Class 1A State meet in Albuquerque.

ALBUQUERQUE – When Sam Brown got the baton from Cameron Huey for the 800-meter leg of the medley relay final, May 7, at the Class 1A State meet, he had a lot of ground to make up.

Photo by Todd Fuqua Corona's Cameron Huey, right, starts the 400-meter leg of the medley relay after getting the baton from teammate Jaime Morales, May 7, during the Class 1A State meet at Albuquerque.

Photo by Todd Fuqua Corona’s Cameron Huey, right, starts the 400-meter leg of the medley relay after getting the baton from teammate Jaime Morales, May 7, during the Class 1A State meet at Albuquerque.

The Cardinals were in fifth at that point, and Brown – who had already finished second in the 800-meter run that day – began the slow climb back to the front.

That slow climb became a mad dash in the stretch, as Brown powered his way past Clovis Christian’s Tristen Reed to finish first and give his school their first relay state championship in more than two decades.

“I had to catch up a good 100 meters at least,” Brown said. “It took a little extra push there at the end, but they got it done.”

Photo by Todd Fuqua Corona's Aubrey Brandenberger clears a hurdle during the 300-meter event, May 7, in the Class 1A State meet at Albuquerque.

Photo by Todd Fuqua Corona’s Aubrey Brandenberger clears a hurdle during the 300-meter event, May 7, in the Class 1A State meet at Albuquerque.

Corona came into the event having the fastest time on the season, but the pressure likely affected Bryan Huey and Jaime Morales on the 200 legs of the relay. They and Cameron Huey hadn’t been to a state meet as a competitor yet, and running in front of a big crowd was something they had to get used to.

They didn’t even have preliminaries the previous day, because there were only eight schools with medley teams.

“We won, but we’re still nervous,” Bryan Huey said.

“We just had to treat it as a normal track meet,” said Morales. “But Bryan was right. We’re still nervous. This is the first time as state champs and the first time to come to state track.”

While Brown’s effort at the end secured the victory, he wouldn’t have been able to complete the comeback if his teammates hadn’t at least given him an outside chance with good running on the first three legs.

Brandon Huey, running the 400 leg, admitted to being a little terrified.

“I was scared, honestly. I did not want to run it,” Huey said. “I wanted to go home and cry, but as soon as the gun went off and Jaime handed it off to me, the nerves went away and I focused on running.”

Photo by Todd Fuqua Hondo's Joyce Ann Cooper was second in the 1,600-meter run, May 7, during the Class 1A State meet at Albuquerque.

Photo by Todd Fuqua Hondo’s Joyce Ann Cooper was second in the 1,600-meter run, May 7, during the Class 1A State meet at Albuquerque.

It all added up to a truly special moment for Corona High School.

“At state anything can happen,” said coach Nicky Huey. “Stuff like this is what keeps you going in this sport. What Sam did there at the end, that turned some heads.”

As a team, the Cardinals had 20 points, much of it off of performances by Brown. In addition to his second place finish in the 800, he was also third in the 400, sixth in the 200 and ripple jump, and decided against another individual event to run in the medley relay.

On the girls side, Aubrey Brandenberger scored nine of her team’s 11 points in the meet. Payton Dunsworth took sixth in the 400 and Chelby Brown was sixth in the 3,200-meter run.

There were plenty of girls present for Hondo, as the Lady Eagles put up 17 points.

Joyce Ann Cooper took second in the 1,600 meter run and was fifth in the 800. She also helped the 4×200 relay team to a fourth place finish and the 4×100 to sixth.

Speedster Blanca Villanueva was also on those relay teams and finished fourth in the 200-meter finals.

“We’re real young. In those relays we’re running an eighth grader, a freshman and two sophomores,” said Hondo coach James Voight. “We could possibly win this in the next couple of years.”

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