Plenty of individual hardware will be on the line Friday and Saturday for the Socorro and Magdalena boys track and field teams in the state championship meet.
And if things fall just right, both schools might even be bringing home some team trophies, as well.
Socorro has placed 14 qualifiers in the meet at the University of New Mexico Track and Soccer Complex.
“With the squad we’re taking, I think I expect everybody that is in a running event, and the relays should qualify for the next day,” said coach Cody Lee.
While teams like St. Michael’s and Portales are loaded and prohibitive favorites in Class 3A, Lee said that third spot on the podium is quite attainable if the athletes compete as expected.
“I don’t know if we have the depth and the kids, the total number of kids,” he said. “St. Mike’s and Portales are the front runners. I think we’re a year or two out from that. But I really believe they all can make the finals.”
The top eight competitors in Friday’s preliminaries advance to Saturday’s finals and from there, the top six finishers earn team points.
So the key, Lee said, is getting athletes into the second day, then having them pluck one or more points.
“With the core of kids we have going, Saturday we should have a pretty full day,” he said.
Tops on the list is the 100-meter dash where senior Jordan Armijo is seeded first, clocking in at 11.04 seconds while senior Adam Garcia at 11.50 is not far off the pace seeded fourth. Armijo faces a bigger challenge in the 200, seeded seventh at 23.60.
Senior Gavin Spitz is seeded second in the 110 hurdles at 16.51, but he has a real chance to bring home the gold in the event as he’s 0.05 seconds off the leader’s pace. And he is by far the leader going into the high jump at 6-feet, 4-inches, four inches better than his nearest challenger.
Pole vault is an event that could bring some big points as sophomore Braden Mounyo is seeded second at 10-0 and 8th-grader Jay Lee is third at 9-6, becoming the school’s first mid-schooler to qualify for state in the event.
Given all that speed, it’s no surprise that the 4X200 relay squad is the top seed in 1:34.34 in what should be a spectacular race as Hatch Valley and the Horsemen are both within 0.05 seconds
Mounyo qualified in the maximum five overall events, adding both hurdles, triple jump and doing a leg on the 4X100, a first for coach Lee.
“As long as I’ve been coaching in Socorro, I haven’t had a sophomore in five events so that’s really good,” he said.
At Magdalena, the defending champion Steers are hoping their success from last year’s single-day, virus-shortened meet into taking a full meet this time around.
“Our expectations are to do our best and hopefully be in the top three,” said coach Sara Sue Olney. “You can’t really know until you get there. And you do the best you can and hopefully things work out.”
Olney is keeping her eye on perennial contenders Fort Sumner and Logan although the Steers have 15 qualifiers with strength across all the events, after fielding just nine athletes last year, she said.
“Everybody has an opportunity to get us some points,” she said. “That’s what we’re banking on. If everybody does their job, whether its seven points for first or just getting on the podium and getting a point for sixth, that’s what we need. We need to get our points where we’re used to getting them and where need them.”
Much is expected from junior Kael Stephens, who was the high-point finisher at the district meet. He’s seeded first in the 110-hurdles at 15.72, tied for first in the pole vault at 11-0, second in the triple jump at 41-7½ and third in the javelin at 137-8.
Senior Joaquin Billy is by far the state’s best thrower, seeded first in the discus with a 130-6 mark and 46-11¼ in the shot, where Magdalena senior Andrew Sisneros is seeded third at 41-11½.
Junior D’Shaun Vinyard, last year’s high-point man who has been out for much of the season recovering from an injury, was second in the 400 at 52.34.
“The difference between track and any other sport is you’re competing individually so get what you want out of it and what you put into it,” Olney said. “And then the team part pans out if you do your job.”