Naming a top track and field athlete of the last decade is, of course, conjectural. Different people will weight different qualities differently, coming to different conclusions in the process. But, while we're stuck with no actual track and field to contest for the time being, at least it's an exercise that can dredge up a few great memories we might have been otherwise in danger of losing.
I've selected a list of five possibilities below. You might argue I've missed one or two along the way. That's okay if you feel differently about the short list than I do. But the five I've listed below should probably be on everyone's short list.
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And enjoy the memories!
Your memory probably doesn't need a lot of help with this one. Vigil was part of the show--or perhaps some would say the show--as recently as last year. Vigil ran a wind-legal 10.51 100 at state. Vigil ran a wind-legal 21.30 200 at state. Most of all, though, he ran a 47.75 400 at state and then trumped it with a 46.43 at Great Southwest, nearly a month after state. As if all that wasn't enough, he long jumped 23-4 at the Marilyn Sepulveda meet and backed it up with a 22-10.25 to win a state title.
He won the same four events at state his junior year as well. And he won the 100 and 400 at state as a sophomore. What more does a guy have to do?
Before there was Jonah Vigil--well, sort of before--there was Jordan Byrd. Byrd twice ran the 100 at the Brooks PR. Byrd finished third in a stacked 100 at the 2018 Great Southwest meet. Byrd's top 100 of 10.32 might have been wind-aided, but he was a four-time state champion at 100 meters even so. When Byrd was in a lane for the 100 meters, the rest of New Mexico stepped aside. I show only once, in prelims at the Richard Harper meet as a freshman, where Byrd was beaten at 100 meters by in-state competition. Ponder that for a while. Oh, and by the way, Byrd won in finals at that meet.
Byrd was only slightly less devastating at 200 meters. You could still count his losses to in-state competition on one hand. He would win three state titles at 200 meters.
Kashon Harrison was good at 1600 meters. He was at his best, however, at 3200 meters, as an 8:55.27 at the 2019 Music City Distance Carnival will attest.
Harrison was a two-time state champion at both 1600 and 3200 meters, and a two-time state runner-up at the same distances before that.
His best times in New Mexico were 4:21.32 at 1600 meters and 9:26.42 at 3200 meters. His cross country times and places, however, suggest he may not have been fully tested at the 1600 and 3200 meter distances.
This one will take you back a few years, but the journey is worth it. Some distance runners need to be tested to deliver their best. Martinez didn't seem to have that need. Martinez posted a best 1600 of 4:11.66 at the 2013 New Mexico State Championships. He posted a best 3200 in New Mexico of 9:13.16 at the 2012 Richard Harper meet.
Altogether, Martinez won at least five state titles at 1600 and 3200 meters. Although my records are not complete, I am reasonably certain he was never beaten at either distance in either his junior or senior seasons, possibly extending back before that as well.
So far, the focus as been on sprinters and distance types. But, there is at least one thrower of the decade past who commands our attention as well.
The 2017 state meet was Morris's crowning achievement. There he won the discus with a throw of 179-0. He won the javelin with a toss of 195-10. And he won the shot put with a PR heave of 58-6. For a combined three throws, that is beyond remarkable. His high school PRs, also set that season, were 188-6 in the discus and 204-10 in the javelin.
But Morris was no one-season wonder. Morris won three throwing state titles in 2016 and 2015 as well. Stop and ask yourself how often you hear of a sophomore winning three state titles in throwing events. In New Mexico or anywhere else.