Coming off a strong performance in the Magdalena Stockyard Relays, Socorro senior Gavin Spitz earned his career best in the high jump at Monday’s Marilyn Sepulveda Meet of Champions at the University of New Mexico Track and Soccer Complex.

The annual, all-classes meet brings together the top performers in a one-day meet.

Spitz, who was the high-point boy at the Magdalena meet, competed at the Sepulveda for the first time this season.

“It was amazing experience,” he said. “It was some of the best competition that I’ve seen all year. I think that really motivated me and pushed me to do my best.”

His 6-foot, 2-inch left him in a 3-way tie for third in the event that was won by 5A Eldorado’s Gabriel Hall at 6-6.

Gavin Spitz competes in a track and field meet last summer.
File Photo

“It was exhilarating,” Spitz said of setting a personal record. “It always feels really good when I clear the height. It gives me a lot of confidence for the next height, too.”

Indeed, he nearly nabbed 6-4.

“Getting to go on 6-4, I had two jumps where I could have cleared 6-4,” he said. “That’s my standard now and I know I can do it.”

Spitz was part of a strong Warriors outing Thursday in Magdalena as the boys totaled 146 points to win the event, with the Steers second with 102 points.

Spitz took second in both the triple jump and the long jump, while winning both the 110-meter and 300 hurdles to total 24 points.

“I had pretty expectations for competing this year,” he said. “Last year, I had started seeing some success in all of my events and then I put a lot of work into the hurdles and the high jump. I’ve been counting on seeing that in the competitions and that’s what’s happening.

Socorro brothers Jordan and Marcus Armijo went 1-2 in the 100 dash, while Jordan Armijo also won the 200 and Marcus Armijo added a gold in the long jump. The Warriors also won the 4X100 and 4X200 relay races.

Magdalena, the defending 1A champions, are gunning for a repeat and looked strong despite missing their star sprinter in D’Shaun Vinyard, said coach Sara Sue Olney.

“We usually do pretty decent and we had a few guys do pretty well in their events,” she said. “We’re missing one of our studs right now with a pulled muscle so we’re easing him back in.”

Vinyard, like many of his track teammates, also plays baseball in the spring so Olney and baseball coach Kyl Candelaria worked out a plan to get the athletes as much time as possible in their preferred sport.

“We sat down at the beginning of the season and had the kids decide on emphasis,” Olney said. “If their emphasis is more on more on baseball, then they spend more time at baseball practice. If their emphasis is more on track, then vice-versa. We made a schedule for each and every kid and we worked it out so they’re at least at each practice every day.”

The Steers won the 4X400 relay with a state meet-qualifying time of 3:48.43 as Kael Stephens took a turn with the baton for the first time this season. Stephens also added a gold in the pole vault and the triple jump.

Joaquin Billy turned in his usual strong performance in the throws, taking first in the shot and led a Steers podium sweep in the javelin. Krae Stephens took second, followed by Andrew Sisneros.

“We don’t want any less than a state championship,” Olney said. “We won it last year in an abbreviated season, but this year is going to be a lot harder. We have to meet qualifying marks, and then qualify in the prelims and make it to the finals. A lot more teams are running this year and a lot of the studs are back.”

GIRLS

Perhaps spurred on by the top-flight competition, Socorro senior Elise Madril sped through the 400 at Monday’s Sepulveda meet, cruising to a career-best 59.96 and fourth place.

“She ran really well, it was really good,” Warriors coach Cody Lee, who helps out the girls team while also coaching the boys team, said of Madril’s time. “That’s fourth all time at our high school. She’s improving a lot. Her previous best was 62 seconds so she improved by more than two seconds. That’s unheard of in the 400.”

Madril also was invited to compete in the 800, Lee said, but because the two events were spaced so close together, they decided to focus on the one.

Madril also had herself quite a day at the Stockyard meet last week, winning the 200, 400 and taking second in the 100, helping Socorro to 115 points and a win in the event. Magdalena was 11th with 12 points and Alamo Navajo 12th with eight.

Also for Socorro, Lola Apodaca won the long jump and the 100, while she and Madril helped Socorro win the 4X200 relay.

Kilee Mounyo won the 100 and 300 hurdles with relative ease, while also winning the high jump ahead of teammate Eileen Otero.

“We’re definitely going to be one of the better teams in the state,” Lee said of the girls. “All in all, that was a pretty good little meet for us.”

Glen Rosales for El Defensor Chieftain