Philip Blidi's big throws were one reason to keep an eye on Portales this spring.
Almost two months ago now, the 4A Boys state championship would have been decided at the UNM track complex. Along with the state title, a couple more teams would have left toting trophies emblematic of nice performances at the state meet.
Which might those teams have been? And who, likely, would have been the seniors who spearheaded the successful trophy runs?
While, ultimately, we can't answer those questions here, we can offer insight. And, we offer it as a salute to those seniors who got left without a final season of track and field.
Teams below are those deemed to have had a good shot at leaving with a trophy. Teams are listed in alphabetical order, not in any presumed order of finish.
Albuquerque Academy - It wouldn't be spring in New Mexico without wind and without the Chargers in the hunt for yet another team title. This spring would have fit the pattern nicely. By now you're used to the idea of AA being distance-heavy and, of late, throws-heavy as well. Senior distance runners making bids for state points would have included Julian Garcia and Oliver Pilon. Throwers? Well, there was Teagun Glenn who was a threat, at least, to win all three events. Besides all that, there was also jumper Lucas Aspen All-Stier. It figured to be a very good team.
Artesia - The Bulldogs were well prepared for a fight this spring. Senior sprinter/jumper Erik Cueto ranked as the top threat. But other seniors who figured to help make things interesting were middle distance runner O'Brien Verdin, hurdler Chaise Wolf, javelin thrower Clay Houghtaling, jumper John Baca and pole vaulter Wesley Knowlton. It was a deep and talented senior class that missed their chance in the sun.
Kirtland Central - The Broncos don't always get the credit they deserve, but they annually bring a very good team to the track and the field venues, both. Top seniors for Kirtland Central this year figured to be sprinter Jaedan Alfred, hurdlers Dallin Mangelson and Ethan Pierro, and thrower Ian Thomas. Alfred and Mangelson also figured to double back as jumpers. There would have been plenty to see in purple this spring.
Los Alamos - This year probably didn't figure as the best ever for the Hilltoppers, but you never count this team out. They understand there's a job to do at state and, at least as often as not, they find a way to get it done. Distance runner Steven Strevell and jumper Sean Dougherty held the keys for the senior class this spring.
Los Lunas - Sprinter Andrue Garcia figured to be a handful. It's possible he could have walked away with the triple crown of 4A sprinting. We'll never know about that. Thrower Walter Baca warranted some close observation as well.
Portales - Way out on the eastern plains of New Mexico is Portales. Despite being mostly detached from the rest of the state's top 4A track and field programs, however, the Rams figured to be making some noise at state this spring. Most of that noise figured to come from throwers Philip Blidi and Trevor Rawdon, but there was sprinter Jalen Allen.