Strength in numbers at district track meets

Texico senior Braden Vaughan took first in the shot put with a throw of 42-7 Tuesday during the Texico Relays. Vaughan, who also plays baseball, has already qualified for state in all three throwing events. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)

By John Eisel: CNJ sports writer

This weekend’s Class 1A district track meets will be decided by numbers —not just by times and points, but roster sizes, according to local coaches.

Grady coach Alicia Rush said her teams finally have large enough rosters to compete with Logan, which has dominated District 4-1A in recent years.

“They’ve had a ton of kids and nobody could compete with them because they had a kid in every event,” Rush said.
The Bronchos’ strength is in the throwing events, where senior Jennifer Blackburn has qualified for state in all three events. She set an EPAC record in the javelin with a throw of 107-3.

Broncho senior Jarrod Lindsey took second in the javelin at state last year.

“This is the strongest track team we’ve had in a long time, both boys and girls,” Rush said.

The District 4-1A and District 3-1A meets will be held together starting at 8 a.m. Saturday in Melrose.

The Buffaloes will try to upend defending state champion Fort Sumner behind junior Carlos Ruiz.

Ruiz has already qualified in the 100-meter, 200, 400, 1,600, triple jump and long jump and helped the team nail qualifying marks in all four relays.

With the Buffaloes having a two-week delay in practice because of FFA judging, Melrose boys coach Dickie Roybal said his team has surpassed his expectations.

However, Roybal said the Foxes are stocked with juniors Jeremy Gauna and Ryan Fikany, senior Tim Segura, junior Derek Dimitroff and freshman Cass Dimitroff.

Roybal said the Foxes may have the advantage over Melrose because of numbers.

“It’ll be us and Fort Sumner, but they may edge us out,” he said.

However, Roybal is more focused on state, which is May 6-7 in Albuquerque.

“I’m not looking to win district, to be honest,” Roybal said. “I’m just hoping to get more kids at state and improve on times.”

In 3-1A girls competition, state champion Fort Sumner finished behind Floyd in Saturday’s Texico Invitational, with both teams scoring more than twice the points of any other team in their district.

Texico boys coach Randy Zarate also is focused on qualifying more athletes, with Tucumcari and Clayton the favorites at the District 6-2A meet Saturday in Clayton.

“We’ve been really competitive, we’ve just been a kid or two short,” Zarate said.

Zarate believes freshman Jonathon Sullivan should qualify in the two distance events, along with the 1,600 relay squad of sophomore Rolando Renova, senior Garett Mayfield, sophomore Justin Garrison and eighth grader Mario Posada.

Athletes that don’t post qualifying times or distances can still qualify for state by finishing in the top two at district.
One of Texico’s main obstacles has been sharing players with the baseball team.

“It’s hard for those kids to come in and condition and get the work in,” Zarate said.

That hasn’t stopped senior Braden Vaughan, who is qualified for state in the three throwing events.

First-year Texico girls coach Mike Littlejohn is more confident of his team’s chances of winning district.

“I think we have a chance at winning it,” said Littlejohn, who had been coaching junior high track for 24 years. “Hopefully, the worst we’ll do is second. We have a chance of winning if everyone does what they can do.”

The Lady Wolverines have won three of their four meets, led by senior Amber Parmer, who’s qualified for state in the 100, 200 and long jump and also helped the team qualify all four relays.

“She’s fast and she works hard,” Littlejohn said.

Littlejohn pegged Santa Rosa as his team’s main competition, but rosters switch around because of agricultural judging.

“It’s hard to tell what people have,” he said.