SPORTS JHR Elementary Track

Teammates from James H. Rodriguez Elementary's fifth-grade 4x200-meter relay team lift their anchor runner after she ran the winning leg of the race at the May 17 elementary school track and field championships at Española Valley High School.

Over 200 fifth- and sixth-graders took to the track at Española to try to win a gold medal, or just to have a good time outdoors.

The level of competition fluctuated among competitors, but everyone seemed to be just happy to be there.

Española Valley hosted a track meet for the district’s 10 elementary schools from Dixon to Abiquiú on May 17 for the second year in a row. Hernandez Elementary won the fifth-grade girls team total, Chimayó won in fifth-grade boys, and James H. Rodriguez Elementary won both sixth-grade boys and girls.

“It’s awesome to see these kids out here having fun and competing,” said Española athletic director Matt Abeyta, who estimated that there were 200 elementary students at the meet. “Seeing their smiling faces.”

Running events included relays (4x100 meters, 4x200 meters and sprint medley) and individual races (100, 200 and 400 meters). For field events, there was the long jump and the softball throw competitions.

“The kids had a blast,” said San Juan coach Elizabeth Wilkens. “It was fun to see everyone come out and get competitive, and try new things.”

The Española Valley track and field team volunteered for the event, and the high schoolers were essential to the meet’s success, along with school staff.

The meet featured a balance between competitive athletics and having fun for all; most of the schools had limited practice beforehand. But awards were given to the top performers in each event.

Wilkens said that San Juan had practiced for about two months. She told students in fifth and sixth grade about the team to get them involved, and had at least 20 students at twice-weekly practices, and about 40 that came out to the Española meet.

The elementary school track meet had taken place on and off over the years, Abeyta said. The 2022 meet was the first one since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and they improved on the success of that meet while cutting down on the number of events.

“It’s really rewarding to see these kids smiling, and waving, and just having a good time,” Abeyta said.

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