By Arnie Leshin
If you go by the list of 2A track and field qualifiers, Academy of Technology and The Classics has three favorites for the two-day weekend state championships at the University of New Mexico.
They begin Friday with some finals and the others preliminaries for Saturday. As for the Phoenix, it has senior Ahbeddoh White Eagle on top of the field in the boy’s 100 and 200 meters. Then there’s sophomore Maggie Rittmeyer at number one in the girl’s 3,200 run, and the ATC girls have the best time in the tough 4 x 100 stick-pass.
Now that’s a small number for one of the betterteams in 2A, but head coach Tim Host called on his district 2 qualifiers from last Friday at Santa Fe Indian School, and with the Phoenix athletes that had already qualified, he had the numbers.
But you do, remember that Host believes in large rosters. Whoever wants to compete is on the roster.
So, how do 51 qualifiers sound? The are 28 girls not counting the relays, and there are 23 boys not counting the relays, which ATC has qualified in all four. Enough transportation for the Santa Fe to Albuquerque trip? That’s the host problem.
A long-time track and field coach, he’s also the athletic director at ATC. He also has a history of bringing big numbers to meets, so there will plenty of Phoenix colors maroon, red and gold at the facility.
ATC will line up behind 1A, with 3A the last to run. Also in its field are Desert Academy and Pecos. The Wildcats have qualified 13 boys and four girls. The Panthers have qualified a dozen boys and 10 girls.
Pecos also has a potential winner of two field events, with junior Ismael Villegas having the top throws in both the discus and javelin. It also has senior Omar Dominguez, one of the stars of the last two boy’s state basketball champions, and he will be focused on the 110 hurdles, the 300 intermediate hurdles, and the high jump where he has the second-best jump.
The Panther girls have senior Faith Flores as fourth-best in the high jump, freshman Trinity Herrera in the triple jump, and relay teams in the 4 x 100, 4 x 200, and the 1,600 sprint medley. The 4 x 400 is their best shot at a state title. They are right behind the qualifying leader, Jal, 4:28.22 to 4:28.24. Flores and Herrera were key members on the state 2019 basketball champions.
Desert Academy has senior Jacob Kaare-Rasmussen in the 400, 800 and 1,600. He might also race with one of the relay teams, probably as the anchor leg on the 4 x 400. His freshman brother, Jonatan, will also run the 800.
Then there’s freshman Sebastian Pearson-Kramer, whose sister won state titles in the sprints, andkeeping it in the family, he will race the 100, 200, and also do the long jump where he has the fourth-best jump, and the triple jump where he has the third-best hop, skip and jump.
The Wildcat girls have qualified the LeBron twins, Jessica and Molly, seniors in their final run, and in their fifth year with the program. Jessica will race the 100 and 200, Molly will run the 400, and both will run legs on the 4 x 200 relay team.
Now we come to ATC. Its strength is depth. It’s a team with all grades, 8th to seniors. Senior Cole Ferguson is entered in the 300 hurdles and will be running relay legs. Senior Chris Brewer will be throwing the shot put and the discus. The Phoenix boys are favored in the 4 x 100 baton pass, and are also in the 4 x 200, 4 x 400, and the sprint medley. No doubt, White Eagle will be a key anchor leg here.
The same with the Phoenix girls. They will be in all four relays. Of the youngsters, there’s freshman Chanelle Jaeger with the third-fastest 100 dash time, and she’s also in the 400 and triple jump.
Freshman Kate Ferguson has qualified for the 300 hurdles, same as brother Cole. Maggie Rittmeyer, favored in the 3,200, is also in the 800 and will race with the relay teams, most likely in the 4 x 400. Then there’s sophomore Madison Northrup in the discus and javelin.
So the ATC athletes are here, there and everywhere, that’s what happens when you have numbers, and they have plenty. They have boys in every event but the triple jump and long jump, they have girls in every event but the high jump.