ALBUQUERQUE – There were plenty of stories coming out of the final day of the small-school State track and field meets at the University of New Mexico track and field complex, May 5.
There was Hondo freshman Kate Cooper turning on the speed on the final leg of the Class 1A girls medley relay to pass Reserve’s Melanie Landrum right at the wire to put her team in fifth place.
There was Capitan’s Dominique Valadez throwing 112 feet, five inches for a personal best in javelin, only to fall just short of Eunice’s Aide Frazier to earn a State title.
There was Capitan junior Kara Vallance clearing eight feet, six inches in pole vault for the first time in her career to finish second overall.
There was also great disappointment, as Capitan’s medley relay team – the fastest qualifier from Friday, disqualified after dropping the baton on a handoff and being out of the relay zone.
But overall, it was a big day for all local athletes at this year’s event.
That includes the Capitan girls team as a whole, which finished second to Santa Fe Prep in the final standings, 74-62.
Capitan knew it would be a contender for a State title, given how many trophies they had brough home throughout the season, and given how many athletes they had to put points on the board.
But the Tigers were chasing SFP all day long, and just didn’t have enough girls in enough events, or they weren’t able to finish as well as the Griffins did in the events they did run.
Capitan may have had to settle for a red trophy, but there were plenty of individual State title to be proud of.
That includes junior Lyndee Bason, who followed up her championship in the long jump the day before with a leg in the 4×100 relay, which the Tigers won thanks in large part to a huge effort by freshman Estrella Sedillo on the anchor leg to outdistance Santa Fe Prep’s Taylor Lincoln.
“I know Lyndee (who handed the baton to Sedillo) is fast and I knew she’d get it to me,” Sedillo said. “I didn’t stress about it, I had faith in her. I knew (Lincoln) was coming up fast, but I stayed focused. I knew we weren’t going to lose because I had faith that my teammates would do their part and I would do mine.”
The Tigers were the third-fastest qualifier to the event from Friday, and Lilly Herring had plenty of confidence to start the race.
“I tried to get mentally prepared and stay positive, I was pumped,” Herring said of her mindset before the gun went off. “I was focused more on the race than pretty much anything else.”
One hundred yards later, Herring handed the baton to fellow sophomore Shelby Herron, who was effusive about how effortless it was.
“It was a really great handoff, it was just quick and smooth,” Herron said. “After the great start (by Herring), I was really pumped.”
Then came Bason’s leg.
“All year long, it’s been hard getting our handoff down and consistent because we’re all so fast,” Bason said. “Now that we have that, it’s easier. Shelby was able to maintain our spot, and after I got the handoff, I could really go.
“I was watching some of these other girls, I knew I could pass some of them,” she added. “Once I got to Estrella, I knew we were in a great race.”
Bason had a philosophical take on the difference between her two titles.
“I had worked so hard and worked through so many injuries – I tore my quad my freshman year and pulled my hamstring my sophomore year.” Bason said. “I hadn’t had a fair chance at it (long jump), so I was happy to have a shot.
“But for my team, it’s so much more important to be there in the 4×100,” she added. “This is a really great experience for me. This race was what I tore my quad in my freshman year. To now have a medal in it feels great.”
Capitan earned another State title in pole vault, although Dakota Hazen’s title was almost a foregone conclusion.
She came into the event already having cleared 10 feet, six inches better than the standing State record, so winning a title was almost a secondary goal.
After Vallance couldn’t clear nine in three tries, Hazen was guaranteed a State title. Now all she had to do was clear 9-7 for a State record.
She easily cleared that bar on her first try to put her name in the record book.
“I was pretty tired from yesterday, and ran in the 4×200 right before this,” Hazen said, referring to Capitan’s second-place finish in the event just minutes before she was to attempt her first leap. “It didn’t really affect me. I’ve been struggling with shin splints, but that’s the only thing that’s held me down.”
After that, the bar went up another six inches to 10-1, an inch higher than she had ever cleared. She missed all three chances, but was still the champ.
“It was just six inches up, and that’s what coach (Gary Caughron) said it should be,” Hazen said. “I was cool with it, I trusted him.”
In addition to Hazen and Vallance, Capitan freshman Mystic Chittock continued the Tigers’ tradition in pole vault, clearing eight feet to finish fourth overall. In this single event, Capitan scored 15 points and were sitting just seven points back of Santa Fe Prep at the middle of the day.
As a team, the Capitan boys didn’t have as great a day – as evidnenced by their disqualification in the medley.
But Wyatt Lowrance got a measure of redemption in the 400-meters, out-pacing Jakob Kaare Rasmussen of Desert Academy by a second to win gold in that event.
Autrey just short again
Carrizozo’s Detrick Autrey found himself back of New Mexico School for the Deaf junior Devon Thompson once again, this time in the shot put competition.
On Friday, Autrey had thrown the discus 130 feet, one inch, but Thompson threw just one inch better for the State title.
In Saturday’s shot put, Aurey was able throw 40 feet, 2¼ inches on his second attempt of the day, and it was his best throw of the contest.
But every one of Thompson’s throws were farther to give him the title.
“Yesterday was a fun event in discus. They were just within one inch of each other every time they threw,” said Carrizozo coach Trampus Pierson. “Today, Detrick didn’t feel good at all, so he wasn’t at his best. But I have to give it to that Thompson kid, he threw really well again today.”He’ll come out and do great things next year.”
Carrizozo didn’t have a huge contingent for boys or girls, but the athletes that were there didn’t disappoint Pierson.
“It was kind of cool this year, we only had two kids that had any State experience, and we brought 10 kids,” Pierson said. “It was a really young group we brought up here.”
One Grizzly standout was eighth grader Melissa Barela, fifth in 1A pole vault at 6-6 and fifth in 300 hurdles.
Jared Guevara started the day with a sixth place finish in javelin, while Tristen Barela was just out of the medals a foot back.
Austin Dennis tripping on the next-to-last hurdle in the 300 kept him from the standings in that race, which was frustrating for his first year at State, but Pierson said it was a great learning experience to inspire them to do better.
Additionally, Angel Autrey complimented his brother’s second place finish in shot put, taking sixth with a throw of 35-10½.
Also in boys shot put was Corona’s Conner Cox, who threw 36-8 to earn fifth place and two points for the Cardinals.
There were only boys for Corona at the State meet, and that included an appearance in the finals of the sprint medley.
After Quemado was disqualified for interference following the first handoff, the Cardinals were awarded sixth place.
“I’m really proud of Conner’s efforts to make it to the medal stand this year,” said Conner mom and coach, Trish Cox. “Last year, he made the finals but didn’t get on the podium.
“The relay team really gave it all they had,” she added. “They knew they had an uphill battle and they pushed themselves really hard.”
In addition to the Hondo girls’ fifth place finish in the medley, the Eagle boys also got a pair of points thanks to sixth-place finishes by Porfirio Romero in the 100-meter dash and Erwin Rodriguez in the 800.
Mescalero’s only points came from Ramona Fossum, fourth in girls javelin in Class 2A. Teammate Matias LaPaz just missed placing in boys javelin by four feet.