Quintana brings home three medals in personal record fashions
With the standards substantially raised, it was Alicia Quintana who measured up and answered the challenge.
The Pojoaque Valley High School track team remained in Class 4A this season after the New Mexico Activities Association's newest realignment and classification, and the result was taking on the challenge of new, daunting state-qualifying times from last year’s 5A class, when there were six classifications in all.
Along with lower times and higher marks to reach in the field events, Pojoaque also competed in the stacked District 2-4A with defending girls and boys champions from Taos High School and the always-steady Los Alamos High School teams; in turn, that recipe cooked up a small turnout for Pojoaque at the 2019 State Track and Field Championships May 17-18 at the Great Friends of UNM Track Complex in Albuquerque.
Quintana was the only Elkette to compete, and the sophomore did more than hold her own against the state’s best, who all, for the most part, competed at a higher level in 5A a season ago. Quintana followed up her two medals earned as a freshman last season with three more this time around by placing fourth in the Class 4A 100-meter dash (12.59 seconds), 200-meter dash (26.47) and third in the 400-meter dash (58.50).
On the biggest stage, it just so happened to be that all three times set new personal records.
“This season was just hard for me in general,” Quintana said. “I had to break through a lot of my mental barriers to get where I am now. I didn’t think I could get this far, but just getting through practice every day with the help of my coaches (made the difference).”
In all three of her events, only juniors and seniors finished ahead of her, more than making the future look even brighter and encouraging.
“It was so nerve wracking today,” Quintana said. “I never thought I could get this far and running with the fastest juniors and seniors in the state, it’s just crazy. I’m gonna focus on moving up each year and hopefully (become) a state champ next year.”
For the Elks, the usual face and name of John Hall was present at the meet, but it was in a much more unfamiliar fashion. Unable to qualify in his standard events in the 1600 and 3200-meter runs, Hall settled for the 800-meter run, a race that he qualified for at the District 2-4A meet at Moriarty High School a week earlier.
Hall’s final appearance at state didn’t end with a medal as he took eighth place with a time of 2:02.80. The winner, Julian Garcia, from Albuquerque Academy took gold with a time of 1:56.66.
The small consolation for Hall, though, was in just his third try at running the 800 this season, he was able to uphold his time at 2:02.95 that he ran at the district meet, which cut off an astounding 15 seconds from his previous best time in the race at 2:15.
“I never that I would make that and cut off that time,” Hall said. “This year’s been tough, considering the times we’ve had to run. We go from running a 10:26 (in the 3200) to try and run a 10:05 qualifying (time) this year. In this (800), it was just a hard race and I never thought I would qualify at district and I still don’t know how I cut off that much time.”
Taos pair highlights 4A field
Taos High School — like Pojoaque — also was forced to remain in 4A this season, and that cost the boys team a shot at a sixth consecutive team title (Albuquerque Academy won with 100 points for its fifth title in a row) and the girls were unable to repeat as team champions after finishing third behind Los Alamos and the Academy girls.
However, that didn’t mean that Taos’ two best athletes in Jonah Vigil and Faith Powell were going to disappoint. After the conclusion of the meet, the duo walked away with a total of seven titles, with five belonging to Vigil.
After he took care of the of the 4A long jump on day 1 of the meet with a leap of 22 feet, 10 1/4 inches on his first attempt in the finals to win his third long jump title, he followed more than suit on day 2 by claiming four more titles, that all began with his state record breaking time of 10.51 in the 4A 100.
“I didn’t even know I had that in me,” Vigil said with a laugh about his time in the 100. “I thought I’d come in here and run like a 10.80. I saw some wind behind me and I said, ‘Well, you never know.’ My block start was also really good and I drove out the blocks really powerful.”
The senior closed out his illustrious career by also winning the 200 and the 400, while also being part of the winning team for the 4x400-meter relay (new state record, 3:19.44). His blistering state record time in the 100 came up just 0.01 seconds shy of tying the overall state record, held by Highland High School’s Bobby Newcombe and Manzano’s Jordan Byrd, who tied the mark last year at state.
For the Taos girls, Faith Powell led the charge with long jump, high jump and triple jump titles, while also finishing runner-up in the 200 and 400. Her efforts earned her the girls high-point athlete, the same distinction that Vigil earned for the 4A boys. Fellow Lady Tigers’ senior Abigail Gunther won the girls pole vault and 300-meter hurdles.
While the La Cueva High School girls won the 5A team title with 83.50 points and the Cleveland High School boys won their fourth consecutive championship by edging out Clovis High School, 94 to 83, it was Sandia High School’s Adriana Tatum who highlighted the day for the runner-up Lady Matadors.
She eclipsed the state record in the 100 with an ultra-fast time of 11.69 seconds, while also teaming up on Sandia’s 400 and 800-meter relay teams as the anchor, in which both finished first with new state records as well. Earning the girls high-point athlete for 5A by Tatum was capped off by her victory in the 200.
To put in perspective just how fast the sophomore’s time was in the 100 is to compare it to the boys’ times a week prior in the Class A-3A championships: it was quicker than ten boys on that day from all the classes combined.
On the boys side, as far as individual performances go, no one had to look beyond Kirtland Central High School’s Kashon Harrison, who swept the 4A boys 1600 and 3200 for the second consecutive season. He ran the 1600 in 4:21.32 and the 3200 in 9:26.42, two times that would have also won the event in 5A.