Eunice wins home meet, Jal and Tatum progress toward goalsTOM MULHERINNEWS-SUN
EUNICE – It seems like the Eunice boys and girls’ track and field teams are running all over their opponents so far this year, and though head coach Gabe Gay-tan says team wins don’t matter to him until state, the Cardinals and Lady Cardinals excelled again Monday by each winning the Goodman Relays at Cardinals Stadium.
Each of the five Lea schools that participated – Eunice, Hobbs junior varsity, Lovington junior varsity, Jal and Tatum – made individual progress toward getting athletes qualified and ready for state. That much was clearer after talking to each coach. But Eunice perhaps deserves the most praise, as the boys took first with a 119 points and the girls placed at the top with 116.
Between how the teams did, how the individuals progressed and how the overall meet flowed, Gay-tan was pleased as the hosting head coach.
“It was pretty good, actually,” he said. “We had a couple of computer problems. Other than that, I thought it was a pretty good track meet. Didn’t have too many people complain, so I think that’s a good sign.”
As for how Eunice performed, it had its typical top-6 finishers across the board with athletes like Tari York, Kari York, Cameron Santa Cruz, Avante Stevens, Robert Mitchell, Manuel Lujan, Travis Hacker and Samuel Ogden-Miller.
Notably within that group, Stevens qualified for state in another event by running the 300 hurdles in 43.06 seconds. That was good for first place, which might be surprising when considering he only started doing hurdles a week ago.
“Avante ran a very good race in the 300 hurdles,” he said. “He’s coming along, he’s only been doing it for a week. … We’ll be ready for state.”
Santa Cruz remains under a second away from qualifying for state in the 400 run (ran a 53.31 Monday), as does the 400 relay team (Stevens, Santa Cruz, Tari York and Kari York ran a 44.67).
On the girls’ side, Xitlaly Ontiveros and Lexxie Dean continued to thrive in jumping events with top-3 finishes while Dean took first in the 100 and 300 hurdles. Both are already qualified for state in numerous events.
The runners continued to get better despite falling short of qualifying in most events. Kyla Colborn made up for that in throwing events, qualifying in the shot put with a 32-foot, 10.5-inch toss. She’s already qualified in the discus, and remains about a foot away from qualifying in the javelin throw.
Gaytan is excited for the possibility of her qualifying in all three throwing events.
Speaking of shot put, Lovington assistant coach Anthony Gonzales brought Alyssa Dominguez with the JV athletes after she nearly qualified in the event in the varisty team’s last meet. She didn’t disappoint, as she qualified with a 35-00.5 throw.
“She’s just been getting better with her technique,” Gonzales said. “That’s something she’s been doing a good job of all year long. Last year she was so close to qualifying as a junior, and so she’s really worked hard at it this year.”
The Panthers and Lady Panthers also had their fair share of success in the relays, with the boys taking fourth (40 points) and the girls taking fifth (36), each out of 13 teams.
Like Gaytan, head coach Dusty Loftis says he couldn’t care less about winning a meet until state comes around. Right now he’s just trying to help individuals qualify and improve to be competitive after they’ve qualified.
He felt he saw a lot of such improvement on Monday.
“We just try to get better and better every day, and (Monday) we took a little bit more strides,” Loftis said. “I really like what I saw.”
Particularly, Loftis saw a lot of positives with the 400, 800 and 1600 boys’ relay teams. None of them placed very well, but Loftis saw a lot of positive chemistry with combinations including Freddy Carrillo, Scott Komar, Justin Gooss, Daniel Jones and Luis Rodriguez.
Beyond the relays, Carillo has already qualified in several events, including the javelin throw. Both he and Damian Soto have. Each of them threw at least 133 feet in the javelin on Monday, and Loftis believes the consistency they have shown over the last few meets is a very positive sign.
“Every meet, they are right at their personal best marks or improving those marks,” he said. “That’s pretty refreshing to see. It’s been a while since we’ve had some javelin throwers to qualify for distance, and we have those two already this year.”
On the girls’ side, Alexys Peugh – despite facing windy conditions – still managed to finish first in the pole vault Monday with a 7-06 vault. Her consistency in that is building up Loftis’ confidence in her.
Karina Nieto and Erykah McManes also had positive performances, each finishing in the top three of running events. Nieto actually even took first in the 100 run.
As for Tatum, Julio Vis caino and Cristian Mariz cal built on early success in their events for the boys with Viscaino clearing six feet in the high jump for the first time, and Marizcal qualify ing in the long jump for the first time with a 19-06.25 leap Head coach Gary Richardson was very pleased with those efforts as he tries to get sever al of his kids to get ready for their events at state.
“Our team goals are still there, and we’re progressing toward those,” he said. “It’ going to take time, we got late start. But each week we continue to improve, and guys are reaching for that ultimate goal of getting to the state meet and win, set a personal best.”
The Lady Coyotes had only one girl place Monday. Eden Hart took sixth in the discus (73-08.25) and shot put (29-10)