ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Within a span of an hour and 35 electrifying minutes, Sandia Prep’s Krista Armstead answered the question definitively: there isn’t a more dominant female track and field athlete in New Mexico.
The Sundevils’ gifted junior went 4-for-4 Monday afternoon at the University of New Mexico track, sweeping both sprints and both hurdles at the 20th annual Marilyn Sepulveda Invitational, prep track’s version of an all-star gala.
“It’s awesome,” said the soft-spoken Armstead. “It’s not like we get to do this every day.”
Meet director Gary Sanchez believes it was the first time any female had won four events at the Sepulveda.
In order, Armstead won the 100-meter high hurdles, the open 100, the 300 intermediate hurdles and the 200.
She was also one of five record-breakers on a picture-perfect afternoon at UNM.
Armstead broke the meet record in the 300 hurdles, her best event, with a time of 43.49 seconds. That was more than a second faster than the 44.56 set in 2007 by La Cueva’s Alexandra Darling.
Fort Sumner’s Ashley Landreth, one of the finalists in the 300 hurdles, seemed in awe of Armstead’s explosiveness afterward.
“She’s so fast,” she whispered to one of her coaches.
Armstead’s quartet of victories were part of an eventful, exciting day as hundreds of the state’s top athletes gathered at UNM.
Rio Rancho’s Elicia Gallegos in the 400, Pecos’ Yeshemabet Turner in the long jump and Cimarron’s Annie Stirling in the pole vault had the other girls’ meet records.
Gallegos’ time of 56.71 seconds broke the record of 57.05 set 10 years ago by Eldorado’s Donita Harmon. Turner’s leap of 18 feet, 8 inches shattered the previous mark, 18-3 1/4 by Clovis’ Antiesha Brown last year.
And Stirling broke her own record of 12-0, which she set — and shared — last year with Highland’s Anicka Newell. Stirling is the perfect example of what makes the Sepulveda maybe the most enjoyable meet of the season; Cimarron, with 56 students, is competing against schools with 30, 40 times its enrollment.
“My goal was 12-6, which I’m getting closer to,” said Stirling, a senior. “Today, I saw that it is possible, so I’m excited to keep trying for it.”
The only boys’ record-breaking performance came from Bernalillo high jumper Joe Kloeppel.
He went 6-10 1/2, a quarter-inch better than Rio Rancho’s Chris Williams in 2005. Week before last, Kloeppel tied a 31-year-old record at the Albuquerque Invitational, going 6-9.
“It took a while for me to warm up, but once I was the last guy left, the pressure was off,” said Kloeppel, the defending state champion in 4A who later missed three tries at 7 feet. “It’s pretty exciting to be able to show everyone (what I can do) at this meet.”
The best race of the day might have been the girls’ 800, where Albuquerque High’s Beth Wright barely held off hard-charging Nisa Rascon from Valencia, edging Rascon by .12 seconds, 2:18.11-2:18.23.
“I could hear her breathing,” Wright said. “I was scared.”
Easily the biggest upset occurred in the boys’ 100. Piedra Vista senior Nick Waterhouse only got into the Sepulveda because someone dropped out. He was the longest shot in the eight-person final, but stunned the field with a victory in 10.66 seconds.
“It caught me by surprise,” said Waterhouse, who hadn’t run the 100 before this season. “I was just glad I could come to this meet.”
Photo Credit – PAT VASQUEZ-CUNNINGHAM/JOURNAL Cutline – Sandia Prep’s Krista Armstead rolls to victory Monday in the final of the 300-meter hurdles at UNM. It was one of four wins for the Sundevils’ junior at the 20th annual Marilyn Sepulveda Invitational.