Muleshoe champ hopes for one last landing at state

By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer

Muleshoe senior Jessica Withrow has a state championship and several runnerup finishes to her credit in the past two years.

Lady Mules coach Benjie Jay hopes she can put herself in position for a big state finish at this weekend’s Region I-3A track competition at Odessa.

Withrow leads a sizable Muleshoe contingent into the regional meet, set for today and Saturday. She won Class 3A state high jump as a sophomore and finished second last year despite improving on her height, and she has consecutive second-place finishes in the 300-meter hurdles.

Withrow also has a decent shot in the 100 hurdles, Jay said, and also anchors the Lady Mules’ 1,600 relay.

The top two finishers in each event advance to state competition May 12-14 at the University of Texas in Austin.

“I feel like Jessica can probably go in two for sure (long jump and 300 hurdles), and she stands a pretty good chance in the other two,” Jay said.

Withrow has a season-best of 18-0 1/2 in long jump, but Jay said she barely fouled at 18-9 or 18-10. Her other season bests are 5-8 in high jump, 44.05 in the 300 hurdles and 14.96 in the 100 hurdles.

Sophomore Kate Lepard, junior Brandi Wood and freshman Kelsy Tipps run the first three legs of the relay. Lepard will also run the 800 this weekend, while freshman Ashley Grumbles is in the 1,600 and 3,200 and sophomore Chelsi Hawkins is in the 1,600.

Besides Withrow, the Lady Mules have senior Minerva Martinez in discus and senior Amber Cowart and junior Ashley Dickson in pole vault.

“We’re taking quite a few,” Jay said.

He said he thinks Cowart, who failed to make it to state last year when she lost out for second place at regionals based on misses, could do well this time.

“I felt like Amber was a contender last year, but she just didn’t vault very well,” Jay said.

Muleshoe’s boys also have a healthy contingent heading to regionals, led by junior 300 hurdler Brady Black and senior high jumper Robbie Bomer. Black has run just over 40 seconds this spring but may need to get in the 39s, while Bomer has topped out at 6-8 in high jump and would contend with that kind of effort this weekend.

Also representing the Mules will be Black in the 100 hurdles, junior Rudy Gonzalez in the 200, junior Myles James in pole vault, junior Caleb Heinrich in discus, senior Landon Wilson and sophomore Eric Washington in long jump and the 400, 800 and 1,600 relay teams.

In Region I-1A at Levelland, Bovina senior Edgar Ortiz hopes to qualify for the third consecutive year in the 1,600 and 3,200. Ortiz was second at state last year in the 3,200.

“We looked at state-wide times and he’s probably in the top five in the 2-mile (3,200) and the top 10 in the mile,” Bovina coach Kent Torbert said. “He’s worked hard and he knows what’s at stake. We feel pretty good about his chances.”

Bovina also has two girls in regional competition in sophomores Hilda Quintero (1,600 and 3,200) and Jessica Bachicha (discus).

Farwell’s lone representative at Levelland is junior Talethia Nolte in girls pole vault, although the Lady Blue has three alternate entries — meaning they could compete if someone drops out — in sophomore Salida Edwards in long jump, sophomore Chanel Castillo in the 3,200 and the 400 relay team.