Dominguez endures way to state in shot put
By Tom Mulherin
ALBUQUERQUE – Alyssa Dominguez had a unique battle this season trying to qualify for the state track and field championships.
In a span of four days, the Lovington track and field shot put thrower went from being one violation away from qualifying, to having a qualifying mark revoked due to a technicality. Dominguez was having a hard time dealing with it all.
It wasn’t until the final home meet before the District 5-4A meet, after weeks of adjustments, that the Lovington three-sport athlete finally did it. Dominguez qualified with a personal-best mark in front of a home fan base. And now, as Dominguez is set to compete in the Class 5A State Championships today, she’s looking to completely cancel out an entire season of “almost” with her best throw yet.
“To be at state? It’s amazing,” Dominguez said. “This is great, I wish I had come here previous years. I love it.”
Back on April 9, at Eunice’s Goodman Relays, Dominguez was in rare company.
It wasn’t part of a feat she accomplished, or a significant moment in history. No, her rare company was fellow 5A athletes.
See, when big schools go to small schools for a track and field meet, the bigger school is competing as junior varsity participants in order to make the meet fairer. Dominguez’ throwing coach, Anthony Gonzales, knew she would compete JV, but didn’t think that would impact her qualifying distance if she got one. Heck, that was the only reason why he brought her, too, after struggling through a violation just a few days before.
So, as a JV participant, Dominguez competed, and actually earned a qualifying mark. She was elated, to say the least. But then, just as what happened when she fell out of the ring at Eastern New Mexico University in the meet right before, her qualifying distance was revoked.
Apparently, JV-declared competitors aren’t eligible for qualification, no matter how well they do.
“I was so angry,” Dominguez said. “…They sent me to Eunice because they said I could qualify. It would count. So I went, and I did it, but then an hour later I found out it didn’t count. … I was very upset. It took me a week to get over it.”
A couple of meets passed, and Dominguez was – just as she said – in her own head. She tried to compete with the same technique and drive that got her the two qualifications that didn’t count, but she just couldn’t find it in her.
That’s where Gonzales came in.
Just as he is as the head football coach, Gonzales is known to bring a certain flare of energy to his athletes. He uses expressions such as, “get your motor running,” to inspire the best level of energy one can use in a game situation, and many of his players have declared that leadership as a reason for the best coming out of some Lovington athletes.
Dominguez used him to break out of her funk. The two worked on what they needed to work on to gain a couple of inches on her throws. They conversed many a time, and she credits him for a lot of the improvements she’s made this year.
“I was so determined, and (Gonzales) helped me a lot,” she said. “He said, ‘We’re going to get it, you got to get it.’ And he’d do his claps, and then he’d send me videos of shot putters and be like, ‘Hey, watch this.’ Or he’d send me motivational texts. He did a lot.”
Well, moments after being a couple inches shy of reaching the state-qualifying distance at the Pat Henry Qualifier two and a half weeks before the state championships started Friday, Dominguez vowed to several of her friends that she would qualify at the next meet. It just so happened to be the Ross Black Relays, which was in Lovington and served as the final meet before the district meet.
Dominguez is such a competitor, she wanted to qualify before district because in district, you qualify for state by finishing in the top two of your event, qualifying distance or not. She didn’t want that handicap, and also wanted to close out her high school career with a bang in front of familiar faces.
“It was my last home meet, ever, before district, and I was going to get it before district,” she said. “I didn’t get it at Hobbs, so I just said ‘I’m going to get it at home, I’m going to get it at home.’”
By the grace of the hard work she put in with Gonzales, she finally accomplished what she had been trying to accomplish since her sophomore year. Dominguez qualified with a 36-foot, three-inch throw that was over three feet more than she needed. And the week after that, she won district to claim a second qualifier.
“It took me a long time,” Dominguez said. “But then (Gonzales) was like, ‘It’s OK, we’re going to get it. You’re going to get it before district.’ So we worked every week … and wow. I did it.”
The senior will be the first to admit how much of a relief qualifying was for her, especially with how she got so close before technicalities and errors left her just shy. But, rest assured, when she steps in that ring this morning, her mind won’t be on the past.
She’s thinking about winning.