Lady Cats take first in Wildcat Relays

Clovis sophomore Ebony Bunton clears the bar during the high jump Thursday at the Wildcat Relays. Bunton won the event, clearing 5 feet, 5 inches. (CNJ staff photo: Jesse Wolfersberger

By Jesse Wolfersberger: CNJ staff writer

There was no tripping up Kim Perkins this time.

Perkins, who fell in the 100- and 300-meter hurdles Monday at the select Marilyn Sepulveda Track and Field Classic in Albuquerque, stayed on her feet Thursday and won both races in the Wildcat Relays.

The Lady Wildcats earned the team title with the help of Perkins’ bounce-back performance, besting a strong field led by Highland and defending state champion La Cueva.

“I think mainly I’m just used to running on our track. I’m used to our hurdles,” said Perkins, a senior and the defending state champion in the 300 hurdles. “This is what I practice on every day. Some hurdles are harder to knock down or easier to knock down. I’m just used to mine.”

Clovis coach Darrel Ray said Perkins is so used to the Clovis hurdles because she is constantly using them.

“Kim works more hours than any kid out here,” Ray said. “When Kim has a great day, we have a great day. And, you have to admit, she had a great day, and the rest of us followed suit.”

The Lady Cats scored 111 points. Jumper Deana Young and distance runner Kelly McCabe helped Highland finish a strong second with 100 points and La Cueva was third with 65.

“All and all, we had a super night,” Ray said. “Most of our kids had their season bests this evening. When you get that, you expect to be near the top.”

Clovis scored big points in the high jump, with sophomore Ebony Bunton taking first and sophomore Jasmine McDonald and freshman Phoebe Breuning tying for third.

Bunton hardly cruised to first place, needing multiple attempts to clear lower heights before topping out at 5 feet, 5 inches.

Bunton said after she fails on a jump, Ray tells her to shake it off, and relates his advice to something she’s familiar with — basketball.

“He told me to pop up my arm like I’m going to slam dunk,” Bunton said.

The 5-9 and still growing Bunton, who said she hopes to dunk one day, said she was happier for her teammates on Thursday than she was for herself.

“I was thinking about our other players,” Bunton said. “I want to see them qualify. I think they did a pretty good job.”

McDonald and Breuning jumped 5-1, and thereby qualifying for the state meet.

Ray said coaching a jumping event is all about helping the athlete relax.

“Sometimes when they get a little excited they’ll change things,” Ray said. “They’ll speed up or shorten up. In Ebony’s case, I was just settling her down a little bit. She was trying to get the best height in the state. She was pressing a little bit.”

McDonald said getting a good pep talk in between jumps helps her clear the bar.

“He just tells us to do our best and have good form,” McDonald said. “I always jump too early.”

The Lady Cats also earned first-place points in the 400-meter relay and from Caitlin Waters in the 800 meter.

Ray said another key contribution came from junior Kacee Escobar, who was not expected to compete due to injury, but got a medical release on Wednesday. She placed second in the shot put.

“To get Kacee back and — boom — to throw a season best,” he said. “That’s good.”