Mike Powers| News-Bulletin photos
James Kilcullen, of Los Lunas, takes the baton for the final leg of the 4×800 meter relay during Saturday’s Los Lunas Invitational track meet.

Los Lunas 

Fifteen schools competed Saturday at the Los Lunas Invitational, looking to find out where they stand early in the high school track and field season.   

While it’s no surprise that Rio Rancho captured the girls’ title and Organ Mountain the boys’ championship, there were strong efforts from Valencia County athletes.  

The Belen girls came in fourth behind the high-scoring tandem of sisters Sophia and Madison Cox. The pair went stride-for-stride in three sprints, while Madison added a tie for third in the long jump.   

Sophia, a freshman, edged Madison, a junior, for third place in both the 100 and 200 meters, with just 10ths of a second separation. Madison turned the tables in the 400 meters, edging Sophia to take second, 1:01:35 to 1:01:74.  

During Saturday’s Los Lunas Invitational track meet, the Belen girls showed they should be strong again this year in the relay events.

Relays should also be a strength for the Eagles, with a first place showing in the 4×800 relay with a time of 10:05.00.   

BHS coach Jared Schmock believes the girls’ team has solid depth. 

“We have a lot of good sprinters, a lot of good distance runners,” including Iris Silva, Lisette Sanchez, Sara Martinez and Avery Carter, who was third in the 3200 meters with a time of 12:39.   

A young Eagles team took ninth in the boys’ competition, with Nick Fresquez earning a third-place medal in discus. Schmock will also be counting on Brady Aragon, “who does a little bit of everything — an all-around athlete looking to get us a lot of points this year.”  

For the host Tigers, coach Rodney Leal is excited about the turnout this spring.  

“We have about 80 kids in the program,” Leal said. “There are a lot of promising things that are looking bright for the future,” including veterans like James Kilcullen and freshmen sprinters Elijah Garcia and Tayson Gaxiola. “I think we’re pretty solid all around, from distances, to jumps, to sprints.”    

LLHS was fifth in the boys meet, while placing first in three boys’ events — 4×400 relay at 3:30, discus thrower Greg Trujillo tossed 128 feet and Jesus Garza dominated the javelin with a heave of more than 163 feet.   

The Los Lunas girls were seventh, led by fine performances in the field events. Kori Robinson was second in the triple jump with a leap of 32-10, Dominique Armijo went nearly 15-10 in the long jump for second and Emma Jones jumped 4-10 in the high jump for third.   

Valencia fielded a small team for the meet, with a number of athletes still competing in basketball and powerlifting.  

“A quiet storm,” is how coach Blossom Heneghan describes the building process. “We have a lot of newcomers. They show a lot of heart right now.”  

The Jaguars are expecting strong performances this year from Jaiden Montgomery in the girls’ high jump, and Victor Martinez, who should continue to excel in the distance events.   

“The seniors have high expectations,” according to Heneghan. “They’ll be a great example to the younger group that we have.”  

The next track meet in Valencia County is the Jim Burke Invitational on Saturday, March 23, at Belen High School. 

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Mike Powers spent more than 40 years as a television news and sports anchor, mostly in the Albuquerque market. He has won numerous awards including New Mexico Sportscaster of the Year. He covers a wide range of sports, including the Valencia County prep scene.