“Five and a half, that’s all you need,” Lance Lukkar says.
Richie Chavez already knows. That number, more than Lukkar or anybody else in the state, is the Clovis High junior’s opponent once it’s time for the shot put.
That many inches on top of his career best, and the 6-foot, 240-pound junior would overtake Charles Purdy’s school record.
Beyond passing 57 feet, 2 1/2 inches, Chavez has other goals — 60 feet, a distance still to be drawn in the pit two days before the school was set to host the Wildcat Relays at 2 p.m. Friday.
Clovis boys track coach Darren Kelley said he’s not concerned about Chavez heading into Friday, because since he hit the 50-foot mark throwing a 12-pound shot in the middle of last season, he’s improved every single week.
“He doesn’t want to get beat, he doesn’t want to lose,” Kelley said. “That drives him a little bit. He’s definitely by himself at some meets. The strive to be able to throw 60 feet, things like that, keep him going.”
Kelley said Chavez is enough of a competitor that he won’t be bothered by the distractions that come with extra home fans, a negative Kelley says is far outweighed by not traveling and having familiar facilities.
But Clovis is more than a few inches away from their competition, Kelley admits.
“The top four teams will be there with Cibola and Highland,” Kelley said. “They’re by far the best two teams in the state, and us and Rio Rancho are competing for third.”
In Clovis’ last meet, a first-place finish Thursday at Moriarty, Chavez took first with a throw of 56-3, easily besting Lukkar’s 50-foot attempt for second.
But Chavez said it’s Lukkar, other teammates and his coaches that push him, always reminding him he can do better than his top mark of 56-9 1/2.
“The coaches do a good job getting us ready,” Chavez said. “They push us very hard.”
This week, Chavez said, coaches got him to start throwing a 16-pound shot — which is used in college track — to make the normal shot feel light at meets.
After winning the 5A event with a throw of 56-2 1/2, Chavez said he wanted to add more to his repertoire. He admits he’s got a lot of work to do in the discus — where Lukkar jokingly calls him “Mr. Spin (with) no rotation” — but he’s still second in Class 5A right now.
“He just got started in the discus this year, really,” Kelley said. “He’s got nowhere to go but up. If he gets the right day and the right throw, 168 is the record (of Ben Aragon). It’s very likely he could do that between now and next year.”