With the Los Lunas High School boys team managing just two points and the Lady Tigers shut out from the scoring, there wasn’t a lot to cheer about at the New Mexico High School State Track and Field Meet from the Los Lunas perspective. But that should change in the coming years as the young Tiger athletes grow and mature.
“I’m real excited about the kids that are coming back,” said boys head coach Avilio Chavez. “They’ve all got great work ethics and good attitudes. If they stay strong and keep working in the weight room and do those types of things, I see a lot of positive things ahead for next year.”
Not a lot of positive things happened for the boys team at the state meet. Disaster struck on the first day of the meet when the 400-meter relay team dropped the baton while running at a school-record pace in a qualifying race on Thursday.
Sophomore Johnny Sanchez got the Tigers off to a fast start over the first 100-meters. And senior Bryan Stearley had them near the lead as they approached the halfway point of the race. But the Tigers missed the exchange between Stearley and sophomore Matt Walker. With it, the meet was over for half the Tiger boys who had qualified to be among the state’s elite.
Senior Chris Potter never got a chance to run the final leg of the 400 relay, but he had a chance to run another day — two days, in fact. On Thursday, Potter qualified to run in the finals of the 200-meter dash on Saturday. The speedster scored the Tigers’ only two points of the meet, with a fifth place finish in the finals. He covered the distance in 23.80 seconds, less than a second behind the winning pace set by La Cueva’s Brenton Laws.
Potter said he felt he could have done better. “It’s a drag to run at 5:30 at night,” he said. “But I’m happy with fifth place because it was a tough field.”
The Tiger boys only other participants were hurdler Jesus Sedillos and miler Orlando Sanchez, both seniors. Neither placed in the top five.
Four of the six athletes representing the Los Lunas boys were seniors and will be lost to graduation. But head coach Avilio Chavez sees a bright future ahead.
“We have a lot of young kids — a lot of young prospects — who potentially could win a district championship next year or the year after,” he said.
Among them are Johnny Sanchez and Walker, who got a taste of state on the relay. And they are just the tip of the iceberg. “We’ll have a lot of sprinters coming back,” Chavez said. “Steve Otero looks like he will be a heck of a 400 guy. Then there’s Billy Chavez, Gabe Apodaca. All those guys are right with each other. On any given day any one of them could beat the others.”
Chavez said there is also a strong core of distance runners returning, including Nick and Matt Cash.
The Tiger boys didn’t qualify anyone in field events for the state meet. But Chavez expects several to be entered in next year’s meet.
“Roland Kern came a long way in the high jump and looks like he might be able to throw the javelin for us and do a little running,” the coach said. “Then there’s Jason and Chris Gallegos in the pole vault, Anthony Orona and Steve Rael in the javelin, Derek Garley in the shot, Garret Sego in the discus. I could go on and on.”
The Lady Tigers can look forward to the future too. “I think on average we were the youngest team there,” Lady Tiger head coach Tara Trujillo said. “Of the nine girls we took (including alternates), six of them were freshmen.”
The eldest member of the groups was junior Marie Cadieux. She ran with the 800 and distance medley relay teams, neither of which qualified for the finals. The rest of the relays were primarily made up of freshmen Monica Padilla, Colleen Page, Cassie Sanchez and Jen Schaus.
Freshman Katie Sanchez was suppose to run the medley relay but was ill during her 1600 race and was replaced by sophomore Maria Liot.
Liot and Padilla ran the 3200, but brought up the rear.
The best result from the Lady Tigers was Page, who had the eighth farthest mark in the triple jump.
Though the Lady Tigers didn’t fair well, Trujillo said the experience of competing at state should help them down the road. “They were all excited to be there,” she said. “Ideally, it’ll make them hungrier to go back.”