Lady Horsemen close last year, now led by senior Lauren Chafins and junior Claire Lee, while in 6A Santa Fe High has junior Judith Allison in the 300 hurdles and sophomore Rianna Varela in the long and triple jumps
By Arnie Leshin
After losing last year’s state 4A girl’s track and field championship
by four points to Albuquerque Hope Christian, St. Michael’s still figures to be among the leaders for the weekend event at the University of New Mexico.
“Yes,” said head coach Joey Fernandez, “we are strong again and we should do well, but this time the competition will be even tougher. There’s Hope, Taos, Albuquerque Sandia Prep, and Silver.”
Ruidoso finished third last year, but will be without Shalom Keller, the senior who was a record-breaking winner of the 100, the 200 and the 400 after being sidelined with an injury her junior season.
This puts Lady Horsemen senior Lauren Chafins as the favorite in the 400 with the fastest time (59;31), and a threat in the 100 and 200. Last year, she ran a personal-best twice by clocking 56:62 in the 400 preliminaries and a second-place 57:20 in the final as Kelly turned in a state-record 55:89 and also dominated the other two sprints.
Chafins will also be a key leg on the St. Michael’s relay teams, as will sophomore Janai Clayton, who has also qualified for the 400 and 800.
Junior Claire Lee is coming off a five-win performance at the St. Michael’s inaugural invitational last Saturday. She had qualified last season in the 100 and 300 hurdles, and the long jump, but did not make the finals.
Now she goes again in both hurdles and the triple jump, plus she’s another key leg on the relay teams, same as junior Joelyn Fernandez who will also hurdle the 300.
Qualifying in all four relays is a strong point for the Lady Horsemen, as well as seniors Sabrina Orr and Sydney Halford in the shot put and discus, respectively. Then there’s freshmen Olivia Farrar and Eva Stenburgh in the long junp along with Santa Fe Indian School senior IrvyAnne Wright.
The Braves also have the Lewis sisters, juniors Leanne and Camille, in the javelin, as well as their sprint medley relay quartet.
In the 3,200, junior Abby Laugers, who will be relocating with her family to Portland, Ore., after this season and will compete for Sunset High School, has the top St. Michael’s time, and freshman London Luttrell and junior Violet Eklund are also in the field. Eklund has improved after a bout with an illness and hopes to pick up points for the team.
Fernandez, also the head football coach, has been head coach of the track and field program for 22 years. He won four-straight girl’s championships from 2004 to 2007, and his distance head coach Lenny Gurule has done the same in the state cross country championships.
Capital, in 5A, has one qualifier as senior newcomer Skylar Madrid will race the 100 and 200 meters.
Santa Fe High, in 6A, has three, junior Judith Allison with the second-best time in the 300 hurdles, sophomore Rianna Varela in the long jump with the second longest distance, and the triple jump where she has the No. 1 jump in 6A, and senior Katharine Sanchez in the pole vault.
Allison made it to the state 300 last year, but came in seventh in the final. Now her times have improved so much, she has the second-best in 6A and a genuine shot at stepping onto the podium. Same with Varela.
As for last year’s team scoring in the girl’s 4A, Hope had 62, St. Michael’s 58, Ruidoso 50, Taos 49, Sandia Prep 46, and Silver 39.