Among the many track and field state championships Jim Ciccarello has won at La Cueva, this one was among the least expected.
“A bunch of overachievers,” an elated Ciccarello said after this upset victory, his seventh title. “Whaddya think of that?”
La Cueva joined Albuquerque Academy (5A) and Taos (4A) as team champions on a windy Saturday at the University of New Mexico complex.
CLASS 6A: Upset-minded La Cueva had an excellent meet, and in particular a shockingly good start Saturday as the Bears won the 4×100 relay.
“Biggest upset in 20 years,” Ciccarello said.
La Cueva, however, did not have a squad entered in the 4×400. So all the Bears could do was sit, and watch, and hope, that Cleveland didn’t snatch the blue trophy away from them. The Storm finished fifth and scored two points.
“To beat them by a nose (62½-60), we’re very proud of that,” Ciccarello said.
Event winners Saturday for the Bears were Lexie Keller in the high jump and Israel Swanson in the 100-meter high hurdles.
Cleveland was led by senior Amanda Mayoral, who closed her prep career by completing the distance trifecta.
In the 800-meter final, Mayfield’s Reagan Gorzeman had the lead in the final 50 meters, but hit a wall. Mayoral ran her down to earn the only distance state title she had yet to win.
Later, in the 1,600, Mayoral, in her valedictory performance, dominated the talented field and finishing in 5 minutes, 6.76 seconds.
It was difficult not to think of Sandia sprinter Adriana Tatum as the metro’s female version of Manzano’s Jordan Byrd after Saturday. Tatum, a freshman, won both the 100- and 200-meter finals in impressive fashion, just as Byrd did his ninth-grade season in 2015.
“I could not foresee this happening,” said the soft-spoken Tatum, who admitted that she wasn’t even sure she’d qualify for Sandia’s varsity this spring. “It’s amazing.”
CLASS 5A: The most startling sight of the day was St. Pius senior Haley Rizek tumbling to the track just before the finish of the 100-meter high hurdles final.
She set a state record Friday in prelims and was well on her way to a state title before clipping the final hurdle. She fell down just a couple of meters from the finish line. She scrambled across the line more or less on her stomach, in fourth place.
Rizek rebounded in a huge way. She routed the field in the 300-meter hurdles and also earned a gold medal in the javelin.
“The state record was definitely the highlight of my career, and even being able to crawl to the finish line shows the dedication I have,” Rizek said.
Goddard junior sprinter Destiny Lawrence had a big day, winning the 100, 400 and the 200. Los Alamos sophomore thrower Rebecca Green finished as a double champ, in the shot put and discus. St. Pius’ Ari Martinez won the high jump – her fourth state title.
“To (win) four years in a row,” said Martinez, who will compete for the Air Force Academy, “it’s incredible.”
At the end of the session, Farmington sophomore Kiara Quezada broke a 14-year-old state record in the pole vault, clearing 11 feet, 7 inches.
Academy’s girls, led by state champ Grace Alley in the 800 and a first place in the medley relay, outpointed second-place Alamogordo, 79-71.
CLASS 4A: Taos, which outscored runner-up Hope Christian, 71-61, had a three-time meet champion in jumper Faith Powell, who won two of the those three events (high jump, triple jump) on Saturday. Cora Cannedy of the Tigers won the 1,600 Saturday after finishing first in the 3,200 the day before.
Ruidoso senior Morgan Johnson was the state champion in the 100 and 200. Sandia Prep’s Sevilla Duran was first in both hurdles. Her victory in the 300 was not unexpected, but her triumph in the 100 hurdles came in only her third meet – ever – at that distance.
Sandia Prep sophomore Skyler Gee repeated as 800-meter champion.