After a disappointing performance in the shot put two hours earlier, Jace Rivera got better as the day wore on and culminated his high school career with a third-place finish in the discus at the Great Southwest Classic track and field meet held at the University of New Mexico.
The meet brings together some of the best track and field athletes from seven states — Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Utah and Texas.
Rivera, a four-time Class 4A state champion in the shot put while attending from Belen High School, wasn’t at his best on Saturday and placed sixth in the event. He barely surpassed the 50-foot stripe on his first three throws but gathered himself before the finals.
“He finally woke up,” said coach Kevin Benavidez as he watched Rivera take his warm-up throws before the finals.
Rivera managed a toss of 53 feet, 2 3/4 inches in the finals. Still, that mark was more than four feet short of the throw that won him his fourth state title two weeks earlier and more than seven feet short of his personal best of 59-4.
Tomas Navarro of Arizona won the competition with a toss of 59-4.
Rivera was competing less than 24 hours after walking the graduation line at Belen High’s commencement ceremonies. Earlier, he said studying for final exams hadn’t allowed him much time to practice.
“No excuses, though,” he said. “I just didn’t throw good. I was a little timid, I guess.”
Rivera was more aggressive during the discus competition, which began less than an hour later. His throw of 166-11 was one of his best of the year, but it was five feet short of the state record he achieved two weeks earlier.
Utah’s Lief Arrhenius won the discus with a throw of 185-8.
Rivera was one of two Belen High School athletes to compete at the Great Southwest Classic. On Friday, Terrell Trantham completed the second day of competition in the decathlon.
Trantham, who just completed his junior year, finished last among 16 contestants, with 4,289 points.
Trantham, who was trying the decathlon for the first time, wasn’t expecting to place very high.
“The goal was to get 5,000 (points),” said his coach Jim Edwards. “But, for his first one, I thought he did great.”
Trantham was nearly on pace to reach his goal after the first day of competition on Thursday, finishing the day with 2,345 points. He would have scored better had he not stumbled over the first two obstacles in the 110-meter high hurdles, an event considered his specialty during the high school season.
Still, competing in the decathlon was a good experience for the senior-to-be.
“He found an event he can do at the college level and be successful at,” Edwards said. “We’ll start working on him earlier next year. He’ll do all the events next year at one time or another throughout the season.”