To use a track term, one hurdle has been cleared for the Mescalero track and field team.
The next one – according to coach David Velasquez – is to bring home some hardware.
Mescalero had 20 kids at the Class 2A State meet last season, “the most we’d ever taken,” according to Velasquez.
This year he wants those kids to win medals.
“Hopefully, we’ll be able to qualify a lot more kids by time and distance before we get to district,” Velasquez said. “The kids will be stronger and more experienced now, so hopefully we’ll do much better.”
Mescalero is affected by a shift in District 3-2A, which saw the arrival of Cliff, Mesilla Valley and Lordsburg.
That means the Chiefs can’t just rely on a first or second place finish at this year’s district meet, scheduled for April 27 in Lordsburg.
They’ll have to qualify by distance or time first.
“That could change how many kids we take,” Velasquez said. “Those are both usually pretty solid in track. I know Cloudcroft is still around and they’re pretty decent.”
Mescalero’s girls, at least, have had quite a bit of success against those schools in basketball. In fact, they’re still playing in the Class 2A State tournament.
That brings up another concern for Velasquez – he’s still missing a few athletes he hopes will make it to State in track – athletes like Katelyn Yuzos, who was in the State finals in javelin last season.
Matias LaPaz was also a javelin State finalist for the boys. Other boys Velasquez will be counting on include Patrick Denny in discus and Alex Kaydahzinne in distance running.
Wind and cold have hampered Mescalero’s preparations, although things aren’t as bad as they were last season.
“We’re fighting the weather with the wind and cold to practice,” Velasquez said. “But at least we don’t have snow piled up like we did last year.”
Mescalero’s season starts March 17 at the Demon Relays in Dexter. There are six more meets before the district meet, which should be plenty of time for the Chiefs to build up their distance and times to State levels.
“I’ll give the girls a few days off, hoping they do well in the state tournament,” Velasquez said. “So we won’t have a whole lot of kids (at Dexter). Hopefully we’ll have many more the following week at Hagerman.”