Clovis’ Caitin Waters, left, is congratulated by teammate Heather Malloy after the Lady Wildcats captured the 1600-meter medley relay during Saturday’s Class 5A state track meet at the University of New Mexico. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)
By Dave Wagner: CNJ staff writer
ALBUQUERQUE — Darrel Ray had hoped it would be his Clovis High girls track team having a “clean” kind of meet.
Instead, it was La Cueva which made the most of its opportunities and the Lady Bears successfully defended the Class 5A girls state track title Saturday at the University of New Mexico.
La Cueva finished with 68 points to 62 for Highland and 50 1/2 for the Lady Wildcats, who picked up wins Saturday from junior Kim Perkins in the 300-meter hurdles and the 1,600 medley relay team but left, as Ray noted, “too many zeroes” in events in which they’d hoped to pick up points.
“That’s the way track meets are,” said Ray, whose squad loses just two seniors to graduation. “We came in hoping we’d have more ‘ups,’ but La Cueva ran a pretty clean track meet; they didn’t make any big mistakes. And Highland ran very well, a little stronger than their entries had indicated.”
Clovis held a slim lead after Friday’s handful of finals, but couldn’t put up points in quite enough events to contend for the team title.
Perkins bounced back from a slow start — she didn’t make the finals in the 200 and didn’t score in Saturday’s 100 hurdles final — with a personal-best time of 45.81 in the 300 hurdles to edge out La Cueva sophomore Alexandra Darling. Perkins later placed third in triple jump at 33-7 1/2.
“Kim had a bad middle section of the track meet, but she responded well,” Ray said.
Perkins said she and Darling are quite familiar with each other,. Last year, she edged Darling for second place at state in the 300 hurdles.
“We did summer track together,” Perkins said. “Last year (at state), she tried leaning ahead of me, but she stumbled.
“I knew this year would be a hard race, too. I’ve been trying to get a 45 all year, and finally got it.”
Clovis teammate Mahalia Molett was fifth in the race in 47.74.
The 1,600 medley relay team picked up 10 points when Yucca eighth-grader Caitlin Waters took the baton with the lead at the start of the 800 anchor leg, lost it, then and got it back. The team of Lauren McDaniel, Heather Malloy, Vanessa O’Neal and Waters put together a winning time was 4:19.19.
Waters qualified for state in the open 800, but was scratched from that event to try to help the Lady Cats win the medley.
“I think it was a competitive race,” she said after holding off her Santa Fe counterpart at the end. “I’m just glad our team could win it.”
Also on Saturday, the Lady Cats got a second-place finish in the 100 hurdles from senior Teola Haskins (16.19), while sophomore Lorena Garza placed second (120-8) and junior Lacey Moore sixth (112-9) in discus.
The 400 relay team of O’Neal, Perkins, McDaniel and Malloy added two points by finishing fifth in the 400 relay in 49.69 — Highland won that event in 49.58 — while O’Neal was sixth in the 400 in 1:00.68.
Ray said the Lady Cats have to learn to elevate a bit against major competition.
“We’re going to have to get to a point where we can handle big meets,” he said. “But all in all, we competed well this weekend.”