ALBUQUERQUE — The high school sports season came to an end with the NMAA State Track and Field Championships Friday and Saturday at the University of New Mexico Track-Soccer Complex.
While none of Valencia County’s schools challenged for a team title, Valencia, Los Lunas and Belen had some outstanding individual performances.
Belen High School
The Belen girls had the top effort among local teams, scoring 25 points in 4A to finish fifth.
BHS continued its tradition of outstanding results in the relay events, with the Eagles second-place finish in 1600 meter sprint relay, third place in 4×800 meter relay and fourth in 4×200 meter relay.
In the 4×800, teammates Lisette Sanchez, Avery Carter and Alisha Tuttle swarmed Sara Martinez after she crossed the finish line, holding off St. Pius for third place.
“I wasn’t expecting us to place this high,” Martinez said while trying to catch her breath. “I’m just really proud of my teammates for stepping up. I think we all really did a good job.”
Members of the 1600 sprint medley relay team include Madison Cox, Sophia Cox, Tuttle and Martinez.
The BHS 4×200 unit featured Shauncey Cordova, Madison Cox, Tuttle and Sophia Cox.
Others place winners for the Belen girls were Madison Cox, fourth in 800 meters; and Sanchez, fifth in the 1600 meters.
Nate Sanchez was the lone athlete to score points for the Belen boys, finishing fourth in the 200 meters, and sixth in the 400 meters.
Valencia High School
Valencia only qualified six athletes for the state championships, but five of them captured medals.
The Valencia boys had three competitors placing in the 4A meet — Victor Ramirez, sixth place in the 800 meters; Ali Abdullah, tied for sixth place for high jump; and in the pole vault, Mac Piper tied for fifth.
“It was something I dreamed about since I started pole vaulting,” Piper, a senior, said about standing on the podium with the top six. “It was a good experience.”
After finishing fourth as an eighth-grader last year, VHS freshman Jaiden Montgomery came in third this year in the high jump, clearing 4-10.
“After the first height, the nerves just went away,” Montgomery said. “I was excited for the experience and to be able to go jump again.”
Also scoring points for Valencia was Morgan Sanchez, who came in fifth place in the 300 meter hurdles.
Los Alamos was the team champion in both 4A boys and girls divisions.
Los Lunas High School
In 5A, McKaylee Burt was the only Los Lunas female athlete to medal, finishing in sixth place in the 400 meters.
For the Tiger boys, Lorenzo Ibarra was fourth in the 110 meter hurdles, with Gabriel Castillo third in the javelin.
Castillo was looking for a championship to end his high school career after coming in second in 2022.
“It was really fun,” Castillo said about his track experience, even though he lost one year of competition due to COVID. “I had a lot of challenges — ups and downs — but just being able to come out here and compete and succeed and grow, means a lot.”
It wasn’t necessary to reach the podium to have a positive experience. Many, like Los Lunas pole vaulter Jacob Prewitt, secured personal records.
“I’m happy. It’s my first time at state,” said Prewitt, who picked-up the event this spring. “It’s just fun being upside down, 12 feet up in the air.”
Cleveland won the boys 5A championship, with La Cueva taking the girls title.
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.