By Arnie Leshin
It might have looked like it, but Hayden Colfax wasn’t the only champion in girl’s 2A-3A at Saturday’s conclusion of the high school state track and field championships at the University of New Mexico.
Yes, the Santa Fe Prep junior went 4-for-4 in titles, and the stadium PA announcer added with praise that Colfax should be charged for her name being announced so many times.
But in the 3,200 in 2A, there was Pecos’ Vanessa Dominguez finishing first in 12:19.38, with Academy of Technology and The Classics sophomore Maggie Rittmeyer second in 12:39.59, and eighth was Maggie’s 8th grade sister, Lily, in the time of 13:20.92.
In the 800, Maggie settled for a sixth place in 2:34.96, one spot behind freshman teammate Josette Gurule, who timed 2:32.79. In the 100, Phoenex 8th grader Chanelle Jaeger dashed to 6thplace in 13:36, and also took sixth in the 400 in 1:04.52, with freshman teammate Noelani Van Loon fourth (1:01.69), and seventh was Desert Academy senior Molly LeBron in 1:05.94.
In the relays, ATC ran fifth in the 4 x 400 in 4:28.41, after taking 4th in the sprint medley in 4:38.59. But in the 4 x 200 final, the Phoenix ran step-for-step with the Eunice quartet, but were nipped at the finish. Eunice timed 1:33.11, ATC 1:33.22.
In the team scoring, the Phoenix placed seventh with 31.33 points, Pecos was eighth with 27, and Desert was 20th with one point. The Panthers’ best was a second in the sprint medley in 4:36.02. ATC was two places behind in 4:38.59.
In 3A scoring, St. Michael’s could perhaps blame Tularosa for winning a pair of tight relays over it.
In the 4 x 100, Tularosa won the dash to the finish in 51:04, five tenths ahead of the Lady Horsemen. In the 4 x 200, the Wildcats hit the finish in 1:48.08, a step ahead of St. Michael’s, whichpassed the stick in 1:49.09.
St. Michael’s did outrun the field in the 1,600 sprint medley in which it clocked 4:20.98. In fifth were the Griffins in 4:34.95. The Lady Horsemen foursome was composed of junior Julie Kastendieck, senior Joelyn Fernandez, senior Eva Stenburg, and senior Violet Eklund.
But the two runners-up sprint relays proved costly to St. Michael’s, as it scored 68 points for second place, only four behind first place Albuquerque Sandia Prep’s 72. Third was Santa Fe Prep with 43.
So, the Lady Horsemen would have liked the 10 points rung up by Tularosa in both sprint relays. As it was the Wildcats edged them twice in those stick passes and Sandia Prep barely held off the challenge of St. Michael’s in the teams scoring.
In the 3A 100 dash, Lady Horsemen freshman Stacy Valencia came in sixth in 13:24, in the sprint won by Colfax. In the high jump, St. Michael’s sophomore Olivia Farrar went over at 4-8 in the event won by Colfax.
In the triple jump won by Colfax, second place went to St. Michael’s senior Claire Lee in 35:03.50, third was Prep freshman Isabael Voinescu with a best of 34-01, and fifth was Lady Horsemen sophomore Julie Kastendieck with a 34-0. She ran the lead leg for three of the relay teams, and the sprint medley triumph got her a gold medal.
In the 300 hurdles, Lee ran fourth in 49:80, and next came St. Michael’s senior Joelyn Fernandez (50.32), the last of head coach Joey Fernandez four daughters and one son who were remarkable athletes.
And Joelyn might have gotten away to an inexperienced start her 8th grade year, but each season saw vast improvements. She also was a key member of the state championship volleyball team, and also the basketball team.
Eklund was happy to settle for a fifth place medal in the 3,200, and she won gold in anchoring the victorious sprint medley relay. Running injured the last two seasons after being the team’s number one cross country runner, she made state in three events by qualifying at the district championships,
St. Michael’s senior Janai Clayton had won the 1,600, but took third in the 800 where she was the top qualifier. She timed 2:25.32, with Prep sophomore Chelsea Griscom sixth in 2:34.63 after her impressive swim season.
Said Clayton, who is headed to New Mexico State:“I should have also won the 800. I came up to grab the lead going into the final turn, but the other two girls had more left than me. Still, I’m happy with another medal.”