The Class 6A defending state track champions have a good chance to be the best again this year in New Mexico.
That makes Volcano Vista (Albuquerque)
the favorite in the boys division and Cleveland (Rio Rancho)
the top pick in the girls division.
Senior Alejandro Goldston will lead the Volcano Vista Hawks after being the high-point performer last spring at the state meet. He placed second in the 100- and 200-meter dashes and the long jump, soaring 23 feet in the leaping event. Coach Shane Cleveland affirms that his star "is faster and stronger than last year."
Junior Abram Schaap is the defending champion in the 400 meters, placed third in the 200 and anchored relays. Another key relay performer, senior Ray Roberson, runs the 200 and 400 while also competing in the triple jump and high jump. Junior Christopher Streetz was ineligible for the state meet, but he is counted upon in the 100 and 200.
Coach Cleveland's sons also will contribute key points. Dakota, a senior, runs the 400 and 800, while sophomore Jericho placed third in the state cross country meet last fall and will be running the 1,600 and 3,200. He placed fifth in the 3,200 as a freshman.Alamogordo
also should be strong, led by senior Riley Finnegan, who won the discus last year. The 6-foot-3, 195-pounder, who is headed to the Air Force Academy, is off to a strong start, throwing the discus 172-1 and the shot put 48-11 1/2 in the Onate Invitational.
Coach Jason Atkinson projects senior Carlton Bartley to high jump in the 6-8, 6-10 range this year (he cleared 6-6 last year, his first in the event). Senior Michael Robinson is a top contender in the 110 hurdles, while junior Colton Dean could reach 14 feet in the pole vault.Cleveland (Rio Rancho)
has great balance and depth with 180 athletes out for track - possibly the largest group in the state. Last year's JV squad was one of the best in the state.
Coach Kenny Henry will count heavily on senior Demetry Rodriguez and junior Veto Virgin to lead the way. Rodriguez will contend for titles in the shot put and discus, while Virgin, a transfer from Albuquerque High, is especially strong in the 300 hurdles. Manzano (Albuquerque)
returns the state's premier sprinter, Jordan Byrd - and he's just a sophomore. The 5-9, 160-pound speedster notched state titles last spring in the 100 (11.05) and 200 (21.60). His 100 time was achieved while running against the wind.
Coach Harvey Carreathers revealed that his young star is shooting for "a sub-10.4" in the 100, an impressive goal.
In Class 5A, a defending state champion - Albuquerque Academy
- again carries the favorite's role into the season. Coach Adam Kedge returns some impressive individuals and many still are underclassmen.
Start with junior Jackson Morris (6-4, 200), who was a triple state champion in the shot put (46-3), discus (154-2) and javelin (170-1). Kedge noted that his star has added 2 inches and 15 pounds this year and "has as much or more explosiveness as before."
Junior Jordan Lesansee won the 3,200 as a sophomore and last fall placed third in the state cross country meet. Senior long jumper Matt Blumenschein qualified for three events at the state meet last year. Junior Aric Kedge, the coach's son, will anchor the 4x4 and medley relays.
The premier distance runner still is senior Niles Thomas from Miyamura (Gallup)
. He won the state cross country crown as a junior and senior. He also won the 1,600 as a junior while placing second in he 800 and 3,200. Lovington
and Los Alamos
also should field strong Class 5A boys teams. Girls
The Cleveland Storm will be led by the state's premier female sprinter, senior Nia Powdrell
. Last spring she won the 100 in 12.17, the 200 in 24.66 and was second in the long jump at 18-11. She also anchored two state-record-setting relays (4x100 and 4x200).
Coach Tim Flores noted, "I hope she can do the same for us. We don't have as much depth as last year, but still have a lot of quality points. We really need to stay healthy."
Junior Sarah Mackin
is the defending champion in the 300 hurdles and was second in the 100. Sophomore Amanda Mayoral
won the state cross country title and was the Gatorade State Player of the Year. She was third in the 1,600 and 3,200 as a freshman. Sophomore Caitlin Barnard
is counted on in the sprints, long jump and relays.La Cueva (Albuquerque)
was 6A runner-up the last two years and again will contend. The Swanson sisters, senior Mason and freshman Izzy, should be consistent point winners. Mason runs the 800, while Izzy runs the 100 and 300 hurdles and relays.
Coach Jim Ciccarello also will count heavily upon senior Jamie Fenton in the 400 and junior Shay Romero in the triple jump, high jump and long jump. Eldorado (Albuquerque)
still has Jessie Hix
, a senior now and also playing club soccer this spring. She won the state 400 and 1600 as a sophomore. As a freshman she captured the 1,600 and 3,200. She was injured as a junior. This year she wants to focus on the 800, though she also will run the 400 and 1,600. Coach Kathy Brion's junior daughter, Bailey Brion
, will be running the 200, 400 and 300 hurdles, the latter probably her best event.
Another of the top athletes in 6A is Santa Fe
senior Akeisha Ayanniyi. Last year she won the long jump with a wind-aided effort of 19-8 1/2, which would have been a state record without the wind. She also won the same event as a sophomore. In addition, she is a strong sprinter, having finished second in both the 100 and 200 as a junior.
In Class 5A, Belen
has a strong distance runner, Arena Lewis
, a senior who won the 3,200 last spring.