ALBUQUERQUE – With half the season gone in the run up to this year’s Class 1A State meet, John Paul Ventura knew something had to change with his daughter.
Hannah Ventura – defending State champion in shot put and record holder in the event – just wasn’t throwing like he knew she was capable of.
“After we were at the Ruidoso Invite (in April), I decided to take her to the Fox/Vixen Relays myself,” said John Paul. “After that, I could see her confidence grow the rest of the year.”
Hannah faced off against 72 other throwers in seven flights, and ended up sixth overall.
The confidence she gained worked, as she was able to defend her title, May 6, and set a new State record with a throw of 33 feet, 11 inches.
“As a senior and State champ already, I expected myself to win,” said Hannah. “All season, every time I threw, I knew everybody looked at me as a State champ and I needed to keep that name for myself.”
Ventura had already thrown better than her record from last season, coming in seeded first with a distance of 33-5½.
In warm up before the competition got underway early Saturday morning, she was throwing about 35 feet.
When things actually did get going, she uncorked a throw of 33 feet, 10 inches, already setting a new State record in her first attempt.
Two throws later, she threw 33-11, and the record stood the rest of the day.
Ventura was overcome with emotion as she celebrated with teammates, coaches and family.
“”I wanted to do this for my family and my name, and everyone to say ‘she’s a State champ for Carrizozo high school,” Ventura said. “A little school like that, bringing home a State championship home, twice, means so much to me.”
As great as she did, Ventura still wasn’t satisfied with 33-11, and she still had some stiff competition from Elida’s Taylor Epps, who finished second with a throw of 33-5, itself a mark that would have broken last season’s record had it not been for Ventura’s performance.
“Taylor Epps is a very good competitor,” Ventura said. “I knew I needed a good throw when I went in so I could work with her. On my first throw, I wanted it high so I’d know where I stood, which was a good thing about being seeded first, because you throw last.”
Now that her high school career is at an end, she looks forward to giving back to the school that gave her so much.
“I want to stay home, because we have tons of eighth graders,a nd I want to be there for them,” Ventura said. “I plan to go to nursing school and get my coaching license and lead these girls.”
That Ventura is willing to do that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Carrizozo has relied heavily on young talent all school year, including a trio of eighth graders, Kaitlyn Guevara, Suntana Zamora and Cleo Shanks.
Shanks, Zamora and Guevara were running full force at the State meet.
In fact, Zamora added almost a full foot to her best long jump in the week between the District 2-1A meet and State, according to coach Trampus Pierson.
Zamora was also challenging for a State record in pole vault on Saturday.
There may not have been a whole lot of numbers at this year’s State meet – three seniors and three eighth graders for the girls – but Pierson sees good things ahead for Carrizozo track and field.
“We have a couple of seventh graders coming up, and that will just add to the kids we already have,” Pierson said. “We’re looking forward to a great future for our girls program.”
For the boys, Garrison Ventura did his best to close out his senior year in style, taking home four medals in long jump, 200-meters, and as a member of the 4×100 and 4×200 relay teams.
Additionally, Jared Guevara and Riley Pierson brought home medals in javelin, finishing fifth and sixth, while Detrick Autrey was third in both discus and shot put.
“It was a great two days for us. We had some real highs and some lows,” Pierson said. “It was a pleasure to get the kids up here and watch them compete.”