RUIDOSO – As girls from about 10 schools lined up to run the 1,600 meter race at Ruidoso High School, April 13, officials had to call a meeting.
You see, they couldn’t see. That’s because the sun had gone down on the 30th Ruidoso Invitational, and the finish line cameras simply couldn’t record the race with any accuracy.
Thus, the Invite came to a close prematurely, with the 1,600 and 4×400 races yet to be run.
Why did things go so long? Quite simply, it was the number of schools.
“It was the amount of entries we had in everything with 14 schools,” said Ruidoso coach Kief Johnson. “It was time consuming.”
Many of the field events – which could start no earlier than 3 p.m. as per NMAA rules – had at least two flights of competitors, and several of the running races featured up to five heats.
All those flights and heats added up to a long day into the twilight. There just wasn’t time.
But before time ran out, there were some terrific performances by area athletes, including a second-place team finish by the Lady Warriors.
They were led, in part, to that finish by the running of Shalom Keller and Morgan Johnson, who finished 1-2 in the 100-meter dash with a pair of State qualifying times.
Additionally, the pair competed in the 4×100 relay team which won with a State qualifying time of 51.15 seconds, while the 4×200 team was second overall at 1:49.22, also fast enough to State.
Sydney Annala also threw the discus 101 feet, seven inches to take first, and also solidify her spot at State, and Bailey Jones got another state mark in the triple jump.
On the boys’ side, Tyler McClendon and Lane Ryen continued their success in shot, finishing second and third with State marks, while the 4×200 team was fifth, but still qualified, and LaVaughn Smooth won both the 100 and 400-meter dashes.
“All our kids had a good day,” Johnson said. “Shalom and LaVaughn of course did well, but Josh Romero, in the long jump. He started that this week after we moved him from high jump, and he qualified.
“That was a good move, after Bailey (Jones) mom mentioned he should be long jumping,” he added. “We’ll take all the help we can get.”
Ruidoso wasn’t the only local team there – Mescalero, Capitan and Carrizozo were also in there competing against the big schools from Belen, Los Lunas and Roswell.
Bettering her record
Carrizozo may have had only four points, but they were earned by Hannah Ventura in the shot put, whose throw of 32-4¼ not only qualified her for State, it also bettered her State championship – and State record – throw from last year by more than an inch.
Carrizozo coach Trampus Pierson said it might have been overwhelming for his team – the only Class 1A school there – but it was ultimately good for them.
“We had quite a few kids with personal bests. When we come to these meets, that’s what we’re looking for,” Pierson said. “And it gives these kids a chance to see the quality of competition at the higher levels. It was a good day for us and I’m proud of the kids for coming.”
Capitan’s boys also had a good day, even if they did just finish seventh. They were able to get both the 4×100 and medley relay teams qualified.
“We didn’t win the track meet, but we came to compete, so we did it,” said Capitan coach Becky Huey. “We’re getting there, slowly but surely. Alejandro Trujillo was high point individual at Tularosa, and Jacob Smith was high point in Carrizozo. I’m thrilled with everybody, and this medley team just ran their heart out.”
Capitan’s performance came close on the heels on the boys’ fist and second place finishes at the Carrizozo and Tularosa meets last week.
On Saturday, they’ll be at the Fox/Vixen Relays in Fort Sumner.
“You have to be prepared for State, and that runs two days in a row,” Huey said of her team’s hectic schedule. “Once you get to state, it shouldn’t bother them at all.”