If the Los Lunas High School track and field team needed a shot of confidence for next week’s District 3-5A meet at Anthony Gadsden, they got it Saturday at the Jim Burke Qualifier at Belen High School.
The Tiger boys won their half of the meet with an impressively high 178.5 points, beating the Belen boys by 32 points. And the Lady Tigers also took first place, outdistancing Socorro 131-115, with Belen placing third with 109.
“It was a good day — sort of a confidence-building day,” said Los Lunas boys head coach Avilio Chavez. “Any time you score 178 points, you’ve got to be pleased with the result.”
The Tigers opted out of the Rio Rancho Invitational to help Belen round out an otherwise thin field. Los Lunas was the only Class 5A school among five entries.
It was nevertheless a good day for another reason. The Tiger boys managed to qualify their 400-meter relay team for the state meet in two weeks. Sophomores Johnny Sanchez and Matt Walker and seniors Bryan Stearley and Chris Potter broke the state qualifying mark with a time of 43.96.
The Los Lunas boys dominated the relay events, winning all four. Billy Chavez joined Stearley, Walker and Potter for the 800 relay; a whole new group of Alex Sanchez, Sean Chavez, Jordan Hendren and Joseph Sandoval made up the 1600 relay; and Johnny Sanchez, Walker, Sandoval and Orlando Sanchez formed the medley relay team.
The Tigers finished 1-2-3 in the 100 dash, with Potter leading Johnny Sanchez and Walker over the line. Potter and Stearley finished first and second in the 200.
Also on the track, Alex Sanchez won the 400. Jesus Sedillo, the Tigers only previous state qualifier in the 300 hurdles, won his specialty. And senior Danny Kastelic, out for track for the first time, edged Belen’s Joseph Garcia to win the mile. Kastelic also placed third in the 800 and second in the long jump.
Garret Sego was the only Tiger to take first place in field events, winning the javelin with a throw of 138-04. Jose Morales was second in the javelin and the discus. Sedillo was second in the triple jump. And Jason and Chris Gallegos were second and third respectively in the pole vault.
The Lady Tigers also did most of their scoring on the track, with the strength of their relays carrying the team. Los Lunas won the 400 relay with Colleen Page, Jen Schaus, Celsey Hastings and Cassie Sanchez. The Lady Tigers also won the 800 relay with Page, Marie Cadieux, Sanchez and Schaus, and the 1600 with Cadieux, Kelsy Cotter, Cassie Sanchez and Katie Sanchez.
Katie Sanchez came within about two second of qualifying for state when she won the 1600 in 5:44.46. “She’s made tremendous improvement over the past few weeks,” girls head coach Tara Trujillo said of the miler.
Monica Padilla recorded first-place finishes in the 800 and 3200 runs and a second place in the 1600. Also second were Cadieux in the quarter mile and Keri Hall in the 300 hurdles.
Colleen Page and Socorro’s Renee Gallegos finished dead even in 27.1 in the 200 dash.
Page was also second in the triple jump, while Nicole Galvan was runner-up in the long jump.
Keri Hall was the Lady Tigers only field event winner. She won the discus with a throw of 88-0.
The Jim Burke Qualifier was a good confidence-builder for the LLHS track teams, “but what was really pleasing was that everybody improved their times,” coach Trujillo said. “Everybody is improving every week, and that’s exactly what you want to happen heading into district.”
The Tigers will travel to Anthony for the District 3-5A meet on Saturday.
Belen Eagles — With some injuries to his athletes, Belen High School boys track and field coach Kevin Benavidez chose to err on the side of caution. He went with a younger squad for Saturday’s Jim Burke Qualifier.
“I really didn’t want to use any of my top guys if I couldn’t use all of them,” Benavidez said. “I just don’t want to risk getting someone hurt before the district and state meets.”
Because of a minor injury to his right quadricep, Robert Rimorin was scratched from the 800 and 400 relay teams and only ran the 100-meter dash. The senior finished in a tie for third with Los Lunas’ Matt Walker.
Belen’s Stefan Marr took first in the 800, while Joseph Garcia was first and second in the 3200 and 1600, respectively.
In field events, senior Jace Rivera cruised through the discus and shot put events, winning both by large margins.
“Jace just enjoyed a nice, easy day at the field,” Benavidez said. “There was no real pressure on him, so he just relaxed and threw.”
Derick Jaramillo, who has already qualified in the triple jump, won the event by two feet. Jaramillo also won in the long jump, in which he may be able to qualify for state, according to Benavidez.
Lady Eagle coach Jim Edwards also gave some of his younger athletes some experience at Saturday’s meet.
“We only have 15 girls at the varsity level, and we brought up some younger girls so we could have a full team,” Edwards said.
Keita Torres was the only Lady Eagle to win a running event. Torres ran a 13.08 in the 100-meter dash. Emily Schultz finished third in the 100. She also ran the 100 hurdles, finishing second in 17.52.
Jocelyn Chavez dominated in the triple jump, out-jumping the next girl in line by almost three feet to finish first. Chavez also finished second in the high jump with a leap of 4-11.
Jessica Braswell catapulted well above her competition in the pole vault. She cleared 8-6 to win by two feet.
Also for the Lady Eagles, Stephanie Sanchez threw the javelin 104-3 to take first place. She was second in the shot put with a throw of 28-10.
The BHS track and field teams are gearing up for the district meet to be held on Saturday at Albuquerque Academy. The meet begins at 1 p.m.