Clovis’ Diondre Hunter, left, hands off to Manuel Robles for the third leg of the 800-meter relay Thursday at the Wildcat Relays at Leon Williams Stadium. (CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks)
By Eric Butler: CNJ correspondant
In track, making up the stagger means breaching the distance between yourself and a runner placed in front of you — but in an outside line.
On Thursday, the host Clovis boys team found out just what the stagger was between its best performers and some of the other top ones around the state.
At the Wildcat Relays, Clovis finished fifth as La Cueva won the team portion with a total of 106 points. Alamogordo was second with 80, while Rio Rancho (78 points) and Highland (75) finished third and fourth.
The ’Cats ended with 50 points and had some strong performances. One, in particular, was victories by sophomore Manuel Robles in the long and triple jumps. Robles, also tied for second in the high jump, which helped him earn the high-point individual award at the meet.
“I kind of messed up a little bit in the high jump. I was making it over the bar, but just not kicking my feet over,” said Robles, who finished fourth in the high jump and second in the triple jump at the select Marilyn Sepulveda meet in Albuquerque on Monday. He soared 46-feet, 2-inches in the triple on Thursday and 22-3 in the long jump.
The Clovis boys nearly got another individual victory in the 100-meter hurdles as junior Brian Mead battled with Alamogordo’s James Hansen down to the finish line. The taller Hansen was deemed the victor in a time of 14.61 seconds while Mead was clocked at 14.71.
“I thought I beat him, but I think his height got the advantage,” said Mead, who also finished fifth in the 300 hurdles and sixth in the long jump.
“Last week, when I was in Albuquerque (also at the Sepulveda meet), I hit a hurdle and that slowed me down — then they just left me. This week, I didn’t hit anything and stayed up with them.”
In the 300 hurdles, it was another Clovis athlete that presented a challenge to the ultimate winner — La Cueva’s Billy Yates. The Wildcats’ Diondre Hunter finished at 40.80 seconds, a little over a second behind Yates’ 39.66 time.
“I could have got him. I messed up on that second hurdle, I think it was,” Hunter said. “It’s all right. I’ll get him next time.”
One of the big stars of the Wildcat Relays was Highland’s Jerrell Miller, who showed no sign of major effort in winning the 100, 200 and 400 meters.
Suitably impressed was Clovis’ Tanner Fickling, who was third in the 200 and fifth in the 100 behind Miller.
“He’s legit. He is, I’m not gonna lie. The guy’s fast — everybody’s going to try to beat him,” said Fickling, who did have his personal best times in the 100 and 200 and, in the latter, ran a state-qualifying time of 22.50 seconds.
“There was some good competition out here,” Fickling said. “This is a big meet for us and most of our guys came out and performed really good.”