By Arnie Leshin
There were about five events remaining, the St. Michael’s boys had a sizeable lead, and head coach Joey Fernandez never swayed.
“I still think it could go down to the final races,” he said on Saturday’s final day, a bright, sunny one with comfortable temperatures and with just a few sprinkles of rain.
Fernandez has been running the track and field program at St. Michael’s so long, he wasn’t accustomed to this. He had won four state girl’s championships, but until now his boys had been shut out.
But that would end when the chili-hot Horsemen overwhelmed the 3A field, winding up with a state record in the 4 x 400 finale. They totaled a whooping 82 points, leaving runner-up Dexter way back in the dust, 38 points behind. Third went to Santa Fe Prep with 43 points.
“It was a tremendous job by the team,” Fernandez said, “they all came together. The coaches were great, they really worked hard. We had the depth that allowed us to compete in almost every event, and I thought it would be much closer then it was.”
The Horsemen could have used a broom, for they swept all four relays, with the first coming in the initial running final, the 4 x 100 when they passed the baton in 44:10, with Prep second in 44:16. It also began a day that the Santa Fe schools took charge, with Academy of Technology and The Classics setting the tone in 2A by winning the same relay in 44.44.
That same St. Michael’s quartet of seniors Sebastian Alcaraz and Derek
McQuiston, and juniors Rico Gurule and Michael Waring, didn’t take long to reel in the 4 x 200 in 1:31.81. Next, it continued on to the 1,600 sprint medley foursome of junior Xavier Archuleta, senior Justice Johnson, junior Jaden Mifsud, and senior Mark Romero, and they won in 3:43.82.
With the Horsemen already to hoist the state championship “blue trophy,” the 4 x 400 four of Alcaraz, senior Hayden Lee, senior Justin Angel, and Johnson, completed the happy two days by setting a state 3A record in 3:26.95, wiping out the record time of 3:27.30 set by Laguna-Acuma way back in 1989.
“We didn’t lead until the final leg,” Angel said. “Johnson was a few strides behind the Tucumcari anchor and passed him down the stretch. Tucumcari had the second-best qualifying time.”
For Angel, it completed a reusing final run. Hampered since injuring his fibia in the summer before his senior year, he was slowed down and sidelined by the constant pain. He skipped cross country, where he would have been a genuine contender for state, but came out for track and field.
He practiced some with a different program and said he was 20 pounds heavier as state arrived. He added that this was his final run and would like to win some medals. He did, he finished fourth in the 800 in 2:01.44, and fourth in the 1,600 in 4:39.86, almost stealing the race until he was passed into the last turn.
But the best of all was in that final relay, the record one where he draped his gold medal over his shoulder and got to celebrate his school’s first state title in the only sports he participated in.
“Justin was great,” Fernandez said.
McQuiston won the high jump at 6-2, and raced third in the 100 in 11:36. Lee was best in the 400 and topped the field in 50.75, than he ran third in the 200 in 22:09. In the javelin, the top throw was by Horseman senior Dominic Morgan at 154-04.
Every point mattered to the blue and white, with sophomore Jaden Mifsud taking sixth in the discus with a throw of 115-01, and sophomore Daymon Lujan sixth in the 110 hurdles in 17:86.
Yes, the Horsemen were hot, having won their second annual invitational and then the district 2 championship.
In the 1,600, Indian School sophomore Christopher Humetewa, who won the 3,200 on Friday, ran second in 4:34.90. In the sprint medley, the Braves came in sixth in 3:52.31.
The Griffins’ best was senior Sam Sparks winningthe triple jump by soaring 42-10.25, and placingthird in the long jump with a best of 21-02.50, with senior teammate Sean Coles fourth in the triple (41-11.25) and also fourth in the long (20-08).
Sparks also win the 200 by racing 22:49, Coles finished tied for first in the high jump with McQuiston, with both going over at 6-2, but McQuiston had the fewer misses and they finished one-two, with Sparks going 5-10 for third place. Sparks and Coles also ran legs on the runner-up Prep 4 x 100 relay, the sprint medley that placed fifth, and the 4 x 400 that took seventh.
. . . In 2A, the Academy of Technology and The Classics boys placed third with 46 points, with first place Santa Rosa scoring 59. Pecos was eighth with 24.50, and Desert Academy 12th with 12 points.
Phoenix senior Abedoah White Eagle had an excellent day. He won both the 100 (11:15) and the 200 in 22:69. Then he anchored the victorious 4 x 400 relay team, making up ground and passing three other anchor legs to a 44:44 finish.
The Phoenix settled for second in the 4 x 200, timed in 1:33.22 in a tight finish with Eunice as White Eagle again had more ground to make up. In the sprint medley, it ran fifth in 3:53.51, and in the 4 x 400, was the runner-up in 3:34.98. Joining White Eagle in the 4 x 100 were three others seniors, John McCombs, Cole Ferguson and Josh Macias. McCombs also took fourth in the 100 in 11:54.
Desert Academy senior Jakob Kaare-Rasmussen was in his final run at state, and he finished second in the 800 (1:59.2) and third in the 400 (51:52) in two close finishes. In the 800, his 8th grade brother, Jonatan, finished eighth.
Pecos junior Ismael Villegas had a fourth place discus throw of 120-01, senior Omar Dominguez took second in the high jump by going over at 5-08, junior Devin Gonzales was fifth in the 3,200 in the time of 18:24.16, junior Angel Varela placed fifth in the pole vault at 10-6, and Gonzales was seventh at 10-0.