It's largely on account of throws that St. Michael's is in the 3A boys title hunt. Photo by Blake Wood.
If you're a fan of high school track and field, it doesn't get any better than this weekend. All the hopes and dreams of hundreds upon hundreds of athletes meet their realization or their postponement in two days of almost non-stop action. We break down each classification below:
Realistically, Taos is the favorite here. It's been a special year for Taos, and it all began with a sweep of the 3A titles in cross country. But, woe to the team who goes into the state meet thinking that the affair is a done deal. Any of St. Michael's, Silver, and Lovington is capable of having a very good meet of their own and writing the story of upset.
Some top matchups include Jason Atencio vs. Till Lorenz in the pole vault, Mathew Carr vs. the Brothers Hochanadel in the shot put, Adrian Vigil vs. Andrew Little in the 300 hurdles, Nick Lemley vs. Andrew Little in the 110s, Jereme Santistevan vs. Moises Coca in the 1600, and what it may all come down to in Silver vs. Taos in the 4x400.
The team battle here looks like a three-way affair between Taos, Sandia Prep, and Ruidoso. Hope Christian has an outside shot of become a serious factor here as well. As with the Taos boys, the magic for the Taos girls began in cross country season and has spilled over into track season. But, if you have to pick a favorite, you probably go with a nicely-balanced Sandia Prep team. Kalei Yepa, Rachel Fleddermann, Kiersten Huitt, and Mackenzie Blackburn make for a lot to overcome.
The best of the matchups for the weekend include Kalei Yepa vs. Shalom Keller in the 400, Taos vs. Ruidoso in the 4x200, Cierrah Kassetas vs. Emma Head in the discus, and Gisella Dunnavan vs. Miranda Vigil in the triple jump.
Farmington has looked extremely good all season out in the northwest corner of the state. Albuquerque Academy has quietly gone about its business in the Albuquerque area, taking their lumps against 5A schools, but holding their own--and more--against the 4A crowd. Piedra Vista and Los Alamos harbor more distant hopes. Farmington features sprints, while Albuquerque Academy features distance, but the final story between the two is likely to be told in the hurdles, relays, and field events where the two squads match up more evenly. Farmington goes in as the better relay team, and to keep pace with the Scorpions, the Chargers must deliver some big relay performances.
Individually, I'm not sure anyone matches up well with Beau Clafton in the javelin, but you want to see the show, anyway. Much the same could be said of Christian Mackey in the shot put and discus and Steven Duran in the 800. Parker Hibbett and Avery Rasher in the high jump should be entertaining, and potentially telling. Rasher against Jonathan Myrick is the 300 hurdles could be another great event. The 1600 of Kevin Wyss, Colin Hemez, and Niles Thomas should prove to be three laps of nail-biting and one lap of sheer adrenaline. We'll find out soon enough if anyone can keep pace with Hunter Ferguson in the 100.
Can Aztec exorcise the Demons? Or, does Santa Fe have a Tiger by the tail? We should know the answer to that question by the end of the weekend. Realistically, as good as a few of the other teams are, this is a two-team race. Both teams are loaded with superior talent, they just don't match up all that well. Santa Fe brings a now-famous sprint and sprint relay cadre to the track. Noel Prandoni adds a serious distance dimension. Aztec, on the other hand, is all about doing field events better than anyone else in the state. Given the way points fall at the state meet, Aztec is likely to surge out to an early advantage, but it's the end of the day on Saturday, and not any previous point in the meet, that matters. Stick around to the bitter end to see what happens.
The best event matchups include Tiffany Garcia, Patience Kennedy, and Cera Chavez in the 200. We have the battle of the Tiffanys in the 400 (Garcia and Cano). Noel Prandoni vs. Kelli Reagan vs. Arena Lewis in the 1600 should be worth postponing even the most severe restroom or concession needs. Madeline Weibe will be attempting to take on San Juan County in the 300 hurdles--a successful challenge there could be telling in the team title race. Alexis Aguirre and Kayli Farmer promise to be among the very best javelin matchups the state has ever seen. And Akeisha Ayanniyi vs. Sarah Root in the long jump should be highly entertaining with a side order of strong team title implications. This will be one of the very few events where Santa Fe and Aztec pit strength versus strength.
Every year, the question seems to be, "Can anyone hold off Cleveland?" And, each year the answer seems to come back as, "Nope." Cross-town rival Rio Rancho seems to have the best hope, but it's still the case that Cleveland appears to have more questions than the Rams have answers. As usual, the Storm relays have the aura of invincibility. Still, there's a reason why this title gets settled on a track and not on paper.
John Finnegan, Tyler Chavez, and Mark Haywood give us a set of three sub-49s in the 400. That should have great entertainment value. Kamal Cass and Dante Hernandez-LaCour should be prime time in the 100. We'll wait with bated breath to see if anyone can undo the brilliant season Frankie Scorfina has been putting together at 800 and 1600 meters. Jared Mayoral, Chris Harlow, and Taylor Potter should make for an outstanding 3200. Matt Jackson will try again to catch Nathan Munoz in the 110s. Mike Budick likely faces his sternest test in the javelin in the form of Malik Gordon, Kian Homme, and Steve Bailey. And we look forward to Alexander Armenta vs. Isaiah McIntyre in the triple jump.
Eldorado has some redemption to earn after cross country season, and they just might earn it here. But neither Cleveland nor La Cueva are going to allow that to be easy. Pencil the Eagles in as favorites, but save the ink for later as this one could come down to the wire between three fine teams.
Nia Powdrell and Sasha Smith should be a stirring contest in the 200. The 800 between Jessie Hix, Molly Klein, and Mackenzie Everett should be one to tell stories about at some later day. The same group reconvenes for a promising 1600 as well. Jennifer Ramirez vs. Kyra Mohns gets two chances to play out. Don't be surprised if it plays out to a draw. Shelby Jones vs. Ally Mady in the shot put is can't-miss kind of material. Alina Armstead promises to provide stiff resistance for Mohns in the triple jump. And, even if Lauren Martinez is still going a couple heights after everyone else has Xd out of the pole vault, you still want to watch.