Albuquerque Academy's Jackson Morris was simply superb in the Boys 5A Throwing Events. Photo by Rod Stanopiewicz.
The arena is quiet now, and only the echo of the memories made this past weekend at the 2015 New Mexico State High School Track and Field 4A-6A Championships linger in the air at Albuquerque's University Stadium, as another season has come to an end, once again. And now as the rigor of athletic life slows down a bit for athletes, coaches, and families alike, so begins the unfamiliar transition of blending back into the everyday routine in which most of the mainstream partakes. With months, and for some, years of practicing and honing their specialty skills, high school field athletes from across the state donned their uniform one last time this season, packed their gear and a few big dreams, and took one last shot at leaving their best mark in the history book of 2015 Track and Field. And after two days of competition often controlled by the unpredictable strong hand of Mother Nature, the last jump, throw, and vault were finally completed. As what began as a field of hopeful competitors with visions of what could be, became a field of golden performances, some with medals, some without, but all stronger, wiser, and more resilient for the experience.
Girls 5A Division
As a sign of what was yet to come at the Meet of Champions in April, it was St. Pius X freshman Arianna Martinez who once again claimed victory in the Girls' High Jump at Friday morning's State meet event. With height and technique needed for success, Martinez easily cleared the bar each height, starting at 4-8 and ending with her meet winning jump of 5-2. Like most of the State's best, Martinez's early season best of 5-4 was a tough one to match this weekend, with only 4A Taos 8th grader, Faith Powell, able to rise to the occasion. Goddard sophomore Desarae Flores seized the opportunity to equal Martinez's winning height of 5-2, tallying up a few extra attempts in the process for a second place finish, and two steps higher on the podium from last year's fourth place finish in 4A. Roswell sophomore Anastasia Daliege was solid at 5-0 for third, with the Belen team of senior track standout Danee Bustos taking fourth (5-0) and freshman Simone Sanchez tied for fifth, with Los Alamos sophomore Fiona Rogers, both at 4-8, respectively.
Aztec's Sierra Martinez was all smiles after setting a new State Record in the Girls 5A Long Jump. Photo by Rod Stanopiewicz.
It was a senior battle for first that played out at the long jump pit, as the state's top two jumpers went head-to-head against surprise senior contender, Sierra Martinez seized the moment to finish her final season at the top and set a new state record in the process. In third place after four jumps, with a distance of 17-10.50, Martinez sailed over the sand with a career best mark of 18-6.25, capturing the victory over second place Sarah Root of Aztec (18-2.50) and Los Alamos' Chelsea Chalacombe's third place leap of 18-1.25, one position higher on the podium than in 2014. Fourth place went to Aztec junior Kinsey Gomez (17-8.25), who will be looking to fill the slot left by Root and Martinez next year. Roswell sophomore Anastasia Deliege took fifth (17-1.25), with Piedra Vista senior Sarah Engert in sixth (16-10.50).
Los Lunas senior Mariah Doyle took first place honors again this year in the Girls' Discus on Friday, with a meet-winning throw of 123-0, a good twelve-foot improvement on last year's Championship toss of 110-6. Piedra Vista sophomore and fifth seed, Angel Bridges, earned a strong second place finish at 117-3, with Aztec's top seed senior Rikki Newland in third (114-7), also improving 2014's State meet third place distance of 109-1. Roswell junior Isabella Gonzales took fourth at 110-5, with seniors Ashley Land of Los Alamos (104-4) and Piedra Vista's Taylor Christiansen (103-7), in fifth and sixth, respectively.
It was a runner-up finish once again for Los Lunas' Mariah Doyle, despite a career best throw of 34-9.75 in the Girls' Shot Put. Piedra Vista sophomore Angel Bridges mark of 35-04 came on her last attempt and was 7 inches better than Doyle and 10 inches ahead of third place junior Tori Collins of Artesia. Moriarity senior Audrey Anaya threw for fourth (33-5.25), Roswell freshman Mariah Moreno fifth (32-11), and Los Alamos senior Ashley Land earned another spot on the podium in sixth (32-6.75). With Doyle stepping out of the high school track and field picture next year, it is up to the field to push Bridges to further distances.
In the Girls Pole Vault, freshman Piedra Vista standout Hannah Sayyeau clinched the title from top seed Piedra Vista junior Casssandra Crowell, with a winning vault of 9-6, one miss less than Crowell who also cleared 9-6. Sayyeau, who placed eleventh in 2014 as an eighth grader, landed the second seed coming into the State meet this year with a season best of 9-3. With a Runner-up spot last year at 10-3, Crowell will be looking to regain solid footing at the top once again, finding security back in the ten-foot range or better. Third place went to Moriarity junior Dasha Booth, who moved up a notch from fourth in 2014, clearing 9-0 this weekend. Belen freshman Gabriella Sanchez was fifth (9-0) and Aztec sophomore Naomi Teasyatwho sixth (8-6).
Moriarty's Audrey Anaya focused on the task at hand in the Girls 5A Javelin. Photo by Rod Stanopiewicz.
Senior domination was the common thread in the 5A Girls' Javelin event on Saturday morning as the first five podium champs sailed their final high school throw across the infield. Moriarity's Audrey Anaya worked her way from fifth on the podium in 2014 to a 2015 State Championship title, with a final season best launch of 127-9 to complete her career. As the second seed at 123-7, Anaya would have to attend to the details of moving past favored standout Taylor Morton of Artesia, who took second at 118-3. Aztec's Rikki Newland landed another meet medal, adding a third place finish with a throw of 113-4, with fellow Aztec teammate Aubrey Folk in fourth (107-1), Los Lunas' Mariah Doyle fifth (106-8), her step onto the podium, with Valencia's Peyton Linthicum sixth at 103-6. It will be only Linthicum left of the top six to start the 2016 season with a 2015 medal to take into account.
2015 saw a shift in positions in the Girls' Triple Jump, as Los Alamos sophomore Elizabeth Lockhart replaced last year's second place medal with a first, and 2014's State Champion, Aztec senior Sarah Root, took this second spot on the podium. Lockhart's perfect timing gave her a winning first attempt with a personal best mark of 37-0.50, over Root's 36-5.50. Piedra Vista's tenth-ranked Payton Kee earned third place with a jump of 34-8, with Roswell sophomore Anastasia Daliege taking fourth (34-2.75), Roswell freshman Kaitlyn Holl in fifth (34-0.50), and Moriarity senior Abbey Aultman sixth (33-9.75).
By sight alone, even the expert field aficionado wouldn't put Albuquerque Academy sophomore Jackson Morris in your typical powerhouse line-up of throwers. But looks can be deceiving, as Jackson proved that it isn't just sheer strength and brawn that makes a discus champion. Jackson's ability to put together the right ingredients of precise technique, as well as strength and composure, from start to finish, appears to produce the results needed to win, in not just one, but all three of his events. His triple victory weekend began with the Boys Discus, taking the lead in his second throw of 154-2. It would be expected challenger, Lovington senior, Matt King to make his mark as well, with a second place throw of 141-3. Third place went to Los Alamos senior Jonathan Schueler (127-10), Lovington's Matt Granger in fourth (126-5), Centennial junior Cameron Burkely fifth (126-1), and Albuquerque Academy senior Justin Ludwig sixth (125-9). It may seem the sky's the limit for Jackson with still two more years left to possibly defend his top spot on the podium.
Albuquerque Academy's Nick Slade soaring his way to victory in the Boys 5A Long Jump. Photo by Rod Stanopiewicz.
There was another Charger threat on scene this past weekend, with Albuquerque Academy senior Nick Slade dividing his individual talents as a 100 and 300 meter hurdler, long jumper, and triple jumper with strong performances in all the above. Slade made his final senior effort one to remember, winning the long jump with a personal best of 22-7.75, coming into the meet with a best of 22-3.0. "I was a little surprised that I won, but I knew I could do it," said Slade. Reflecting on his career, Slade stressed the importance of "always listening to your coaches" in order to find the success you are looking for. And the simple advice to "have fun and always be kind" goes a long way in athletics and in life, as it showed in Slade's pleasant and respectful conversation with NM MileSplit about his success. Ninth-ranked Farmington senior Avery Rasher captured the second spot at (22-5.50), and Slade's teammate, Matt Blumenschein, landed a season PR of 22-1.75 for third. Fourth went to tenth-ranked Espanola Valley senior Jared Garduno (21-10.50), St. Pius X senior Elias Limon was fifth (21-6.25), and second seed Michael Vega of Chaparral sixth (21-4.25).
Del Norte's Nathan Burnett floating to the mat after clearing the bar in the Boys 5A Pole Vault. Photo by Rod Stanopiewicz.
Boys Pole Vault top seed, Del Norte's Nathan Burnett, found the champion within after last year's ninth place finish. Burnett took first on Friday with a winning mark of 14-0, just shy of his personal best of 14-3. Passing on the first three standard settings, Burnett joined the competition at 12-6, continuing his one-shot stop at each consecutive height, unable to clear a last effort at 14-6. Lovington's Colton Rice took second place, in his third attempt at 14-0. Third place went to Los Alamos junior Liam Johnson (13-0), Aztec junior Lindsey Larabee fourth (13-0), Los Lunas' Greg Gabaldon fifth (13-0), and Lovington's Tanner Gandy sixth (12-6).
Farmington's Avery Rasher attempting clearance in the Boys 5A High Jump. Photo by Blake Wood.
Senior level success found four of the six top podium finishers in Friday's 5A High Jump event. Farmington senior high jumper Avery Rasher earned another State Championship title this year with a strong mark of 6-4, only two inches less than his 6-6 personal best. Under colder and wetter conditions than usual, Rasher and the next contingency of seven jumpers still managed to clear 6-0, a respectable feat for not-so-warm muscles moving skyward. Los Alamos senior Greg Ahlers took second with a jump of 6-2, while Lovington junior Trystan Baker was third (6-2), Centennial senior Christian Cedrano fourth (6-0), Farmington senior Chayton Salcido fifth (6-0), and Belen senior Rock Barba sixth (6-0).
Academy's Morris watching after release in the Boys 5A Javelin. Photo by Rod Stanopiewicz.
Victory number two for Albuquerque sophomore Jackson Morris was a closer call than his first one, with his final launch of 170-1 taking the win from Piedra Vista junior Ryan Montoya, who finished second at 169-11, a hard three-inch pill to swallow for sure. Espanola Valley junior Marcos Flores earned a third place medal with a throw of 167-3, bettering last year's seventh place 145-3. St. Pius X senior Esteban Medina was fourth (157-10), Aztec senior Marcus Crawford fifth (150-20), and Los Lunas sophomore Shawn Kelly-Romero sixth (149-11).
Part three in the Jackson Morris trilogy ended with a final individual victory in the Boys' 5A Shot Put. The Albuquerque Academy sophomore earned his third win with a personal best throw of 46-1.25, a foot more than Lovington senior Matt King, who took second again to Jackson with a distance of 45-2.50. As in the pre-race line-up, it was Artesia senior Alex Corral's throw of 44-7 that earned him third on the podium, with Piedra Vista sophomore Kenneth McDonald fifth (43-2), and Santa Teresa's Angel Nunez, who pulled out a senior podium finish from his ninth place seed for the sixth spot (42-11).
St. Pius X's Elias Limon landing in the pit in the Boys 5A Triple Jump. Photo by Rod Stanopiewicz.
St. Pius X senior Elias Limon walked away with a Championship medal Saturday afternoon, inching out a season best of 44-4.25 for the win over top-seed Charger Nick Slade. Slade went 43-4.50 for second place, fifth-ranked Belen senior Rock Barba took third (43-0), and Espanola Valley senior Jared Garduno leaped from eleventh seed to fourth (42-3) when all was said and done. Rounding out the final jumpers to make the State podium in 5A were Moriarity's Jake Flaming in fifth (41-8.25), and Miyamura senior David Gustillo in sixth (41-2).