CHS’ Perkins gears for Junior Olympics nationals

Kim Perkins works on her starts in the 400 hurdles this week as she practices for Junior Olympics national competition in Eugene, Ore. Photo by Eric Kluth

By Dave Wagner

Kim Perkins didn’t know she’d be working so hard in track this summer.

Perkins, who will be a junior this fall at Clovis High, finished second in the Class 5A girls state 300-meter hurdles at Albuquerque in mid-May. But when Derico Cooper, a CHS volunteer assistant, asked her to run in the summer program he oversees, she was taken by surprise.

“I didn’t even know they had a summer program,” Perkins said.

Running in the 400 hurdles, Perkins took first in state Junior Olympics competition in the 15-16 age division, then last weekend placed first in the Region X meet in Provo, Utah, with a time of 1:05.22. The region covers New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah and also includes El Paso, Cooper said.

He said her time is the fourth-fastest nationally in the age group this summer.

Perkins and Cooper will travel to Eugene, Ore., this week for national Junior Olympics competition. She runs in the preliminaries at 10:30 a.m. (MDT) on Friday.

Cooper said Perkins has come along well, adding that she was motivated by the fact she was seeded fourth in the Region X meet.

“She’s adjusted to (the longer race) pretty well,” Cooper said. “Her first meet, she thought, was pretty bad, but she blew away the competition at the state level.”

Perkins said her goal at nationals is to break the state record, which she thinks is somewhere between 1:02 and 1:03.

With only about 10 people in the summer program, she said it’s harder to push herself than it is during the regular spring season.

“I really have to work on my starts,” she said. “The 400 is a little more tiring. It’s harder to practice by yourself because you don’t have anyone to run against. It’s harder to get to your times.”

Cooper, though, coaches CHS hurdlers and was a hurdler himself in high school and college.

“We’re working on getting her out well in her first 150 meters,” he said. “We want to get that part of her race as strong as her finish.

“She’s only run the race (in competition) three times. I don’t know what the possibilities are. We’re shooting for the region record in the national meet.”

Perkins also runs on the 800 and 1,600 relays for the Lady Wildcats during the spring, and concedes she probably enjoys that more.

“I like the hurdles, but I kind of like relays, too,” she said. “I think the mile (1,600) relay is probably my favorite.”

Five members of Clovis’ summer program participated in Provo. Cooper said John Tranchida, who will be a junior next year, finished fourth in both the 100 and 200 dashes in the 15-16 age group. He lost out on a berth in the nationals in the 100 by two-tenths of a second with a time of 11.43 seconds.

In the 17-18 division, Phillip Williams was sixth in the 100 in 11.34 seconds and Jacob Jones placed eighth in the 400 in 53.01.

The youngest member of the group, Marshall Winn, placed seventh in shot put in the 8-and-under division.