Clovis High junior Kim Perkins, right, running a 200 meter in practice with teammate Vanessa O’Neal, will compete in the triple jump, 200 meters, 100 and 300 hurdles at the Class 5A state tournament Friday and Saturday. (CNJ staff: Eric Kluth)
By John Eisel: CNJ sports writer
When talking about Friday and Saturday’s Class 5A state track meet, La Cueva coach Jim Ticcarello referred to 2000, when his team won the state title by a quarter of a point in a meet that wasn’t decided until the last event.
“Everything indicates that could be this kind of year again,” Ticcarello said. “It could be the most exciting meet in four to five years.”
Ticcarello said usually the state meet is a two-team race. But this year he and Clovis coach Darrel Ray feel four to five teams could finish with 50 to 60 points.
They picked the Lady Wildcats, defending champion La Cueva and District 4-5A champion Cibola as slight favorites for the two-day meet, which will be at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.
“If any of those teams make a mistake, I see a team like Alamogordo or Highland moving in,” Ticcarello said.
La Cueva’s Briana Paxton has the top marks in the discus and shot put by substantial amounts going into the meet, while Katie Candelaria is seeded second in the 400.
“They’ll go as those two kids perform,” said Ray, who also complimented the Bears’ balance.
However, the Bears aren’t as strong in the sprint events as Clovis, Highland and Cibola.
“We’re hoping they displace each other,” Ticcarello said.
Cibola’s Tressi Richardson has the top times this year in the 100 and 200 while Vanessa Ortiz is the district champion in the 1,600 and 3,200.
Ray said Clovis’ key is junior Kim Perkins, who will compete in the triple jump, 200 meters, 100 and 300 hurdles. She has the top time in the 300 hurdles.
“If Kim has a good weekend like she had last weekend, things are going to fall into place,” Ray said. Perkins won the triple jump and 300 hurdles and was second in the 200 and 100 hurdles at the district meet.
Perkins believes she can carry the load.
“I’m really confident,” said Perkins, who took second in the 300 hurdles at state last year. “You can’t get too confident, though, that’s when you get big-headed and start messing up.”
The Lady Cats are also strong in the high jump with junior Brittany Blackmon, freshmen Ebony Bunton and Jasmine McDonald coming in with three of the top four marks.
Ray said a huge event will be the 400 relay, which kicks off Saturday’s running finals.
Cibola beat Clovis at the district meet, but Clovis sophomore Heather Malloy, who runs the anchor leg, was still recovering from a groin pull.
“If we can win that, we set the tone for the rest of the weekend,” Ray said.
He hopes a week to recover leaves Malloy at 100 percent.
“Until Friday night, we really don’t know,” he said.