Lady Cats aim for gold

Clovis coach Darrel Ray, right, works with junior Heather Malloy on starting out of the blocks at practice on Wednesday at Leon Williams Stadium. (CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks)

By Jesse Wolfersberger: CNJ staff writer

The Clovis Lady Wildcats head into the Class 5A state track meet winners of their last six meets, and the last couple haven’t even been close.

“We’ve all just gone out there and done our thing,” junior sprinter Heather Malloy said. “We haven’t gotten big headed or anything. We’ve just gone out there and competed. I think if we do the same this weekend we’ll be fine.”

The Lady Cats won their last two meets by an average margin of 145 1/2 points.

At the state meet today and Saturday, one point would be good enough for Clovis coach Darrel Ray.

“We feel like we’ve got a good team,” Ray said. “We feel like we’ve got a good shot to be top three.

“The way things shake out in the running and the relays, we’ll be able to stay close. Hopefully we’ll be able to exploit what we think is an advantage in the field, where we’ve got a little bit more in the jumps and a little bit more in the throws.”

One event the Lady Cats could dominate is the high jump.
Senior Brittany Blackmon, sophomores Ebony Bunton and Jasmine McDonald, and freshmen Phoebe Bruening and Lainey Flatow will all compete in the high jump for Clovis. All five are in the top 10 in the state.

Ray also said his team could score big points in the discus, with juniors Lorena Garza, Kacee Escobar and Nicole Levenshown, and sophomore Kanisha Beachum ranked in the state’s top nine throwers.

“If our kids go up and do what they normally do, we’ll be in good shape,” Ray said. “If they go above, then we might develop a little bit of a lead.”

Garza said she and her fellow throwers like getting their events out of the way and turning into the cheering section.

“Our events usually are first,” Garza said. “Then we just have to cheer on our sprinters and distance runners. If you’ve done what you got to do, then you just hope everyone else does their part. You like to come out as a team winner than just in individual winner.”

In the track events, the Lady Cats are counting on senior Kim Perkins to repeat in the 300-meter hurdles. Last year’s 100-meter hurdles performance, however, they could do without.

“I fell on the second hurdle,” Perkins said of last season’s 100 hurdles. “Then I got up and fell on the last hurdle. It was pretty embarrassing. It’s a good thing I won the 300 hurdles right after that.”

Perkins said Clovis’ streak over the past month has the team’s confidence sky high.

“It kind of gets you used to winning,” Perkins said. “It gets you pumped. We’re more together, we run as a team, we’re more unified.”

For Perkins, the best win of the regular season was at the Alamogordo Qualifier on April 21 because the meet included Cibola, another state title contender.

“I was really glad we beat them,” Perkins said. “We just hope we can bring it again this weekend.”

The biggest obstacles keeping the Lady Cats from their first title since 1999 will be Cibola, Highland and last year’s state champion La Cueva. Clovis has seen, and beaten, those three teams at a meet at least once this season.

“I think we definitely have all the tools that we need,” Malloy said. “We just have to be mentally prepared. I can’t wait to go up there and tear it up.”