For someone who has never run this race at the varsity level before, Alisa Meraz-Fishbein looked awfully comfortable in her new environment.
The Albuquerque High junior, the defending state champion in the 800, strayed into new territory Friday at the Albuquerque Invitational when she ran her first 3,200-meter final against varsity competition.
The result? A strong final lap, and possibly an announcement to the queen of this race, Cleveland’s Amanda Mayoral, that perhaps she is prepared to challenge Mayoral at the state meet in May.
For the time being, Meraz-Fishbein was basking in her winning time of 11 minutes, 28.43 seconds, and a performance that certainly caught the eye of several other coaches in attendance.
“It’s something new,” she said. “I ran cross country and did well (third at the Class 6A state meet), so I thought that a (3,200) would be interesting.”
A close pack of runners hit the start/finish line for the final lap, and Meraz-Fishbein kicked into another gear as soon as that last lap began.
“I just wanted to stay near the leaders and, if I had some energy, just go for it,” Meraz-Fishbein said. “And I felt pretty good. I was breathing hard, but at the end of any race, you should feel destroyed. And I didn’t.”
Volcano Vista senior Jericho Cleveland was the boys’ 3,200-meter winner, crossing the line in 9:50.85, with teammate Ivan Pineda-Dominguez well back in second place.
Cleveland last weekend raced at the Chandler (Ariz.) Rotary Invitational, and ran spectacularly.
He took first place in the mile and the 800, and ran third in the 3,200. His father, Shane, said Jericho — who is down to Clemson and New Mexico for his college choice — was now the third-ranked 800-meter runner in the country, and the top-ranked runner in both the mile and the 1,600.
“That was unexpected, honestly,” Jericho Cleveland said. “Pulling off wins and PR-ing in both of them was awesome. A real confidence booster.”
Because of the huge workload in Arizona, Cleveland said he was not nearly at 100 percent on Friday.
“I was kid of congested, and other than that, I’d say my body is a little broken down,” he said, adding that he was only at 60 to 70 percent strength for this meet.
n Among the eight field event finals contested Friday, of note was Rio Rancho senior Kamirah Decker, who set a personal record in the shot put with a heave of 37 feet, 9¾ inches.
“The trend is, my best throw is always my first throw,” Decker said. This winning throw came on her second throw in the qualifying. “That finally broke the trend. I don’t know where that came from.”
Decker, who also throws the discus but not this weekend, finished in the top five at state last May in both events.
Albuquerque Academy’s Zack Jaramillo was the boys javelin winner. One of his chief rivals in this event, teammate Teagun Glenn, was at the Texas Relays in Austin on Friday, where he threw 176-4 and placed third.
Jaramillo’s top throw Friday was 180-6, and he also beat Glenn head-to-head in a recent meet.
The top three finishers in all 10 finals from Friday can be found on page B4.
Manzano sprinter Jordan Byrd was the top qualifer Friday in the 100-meter dash, but he had a rare gaffe in his 200-meter heat. He strayed out of his lane and was disqualified.
… The remaining six field events are scheduled for either 8:45 or 11 this morning. The rest of the running finals begin at 10:45 a.m.