With a steady breeze finding its way into the Great Friends of University of New Mexico Track and Field Complex in Albuquerque, athletes sometimes found themselves running with the wind, sometimes against the wind and sometimes perpendicular to the gusts. In any case, it was a constant presence that teams had to contend with at this year's big school (Class 4A, 5A and 6A) weekend. It affected outcomes of some field events and prevented certain records from being broken due to an unfair push or an impossible header.
Along with the minigales, other teams must have felt the same about the Taos Tigers, who were themselves a constant presence inside the stadium throughout the two-day event.
At the end of day one, the Silver Fighting Colts had the team lead and were poised to make a run for the title. They had placed individual athletes and their relay teams in favorable qualifying positions in almost all running and hurdle events. After all, the Colts beat the Tigers handily (85.5 to 77) at the Capital City Invitational April 18. But, as in year's past, Taos kept hanging around with wave after wave of performers, ready to beat back the kicks from those feisty horses from the south.
In many ways, the term "broken record" could have been the theme for the way Taos finished at this year's state track meet. Like a jumpy needle in the groove of a scratched up vinyl record that keeps repeating a song's phrase, the Tigers kept winning events or kept placing athletes in the top six, thus, pumping valuable points into the team's total. The final result was a fifth straight team title and another blue trophy for the display case inside the Taos High School vestibule.
The final top-10 team scores for the boys were as follows: Taos (81), Silver (75), St. Michael's (54), Portales (46), Robertson (36), Moriarty (34), West Las Vegas (22), Ruidoso (17), Sandia Prep (16) and Hope Christian (16).
And speaking of broken records, Taos standout, Jonah Vigil himself was responsible for toppling a longstanding state mark in the 400-meter dash. The junior recorded a time of 47.01 seconds during preliminaries, shattering the previous time of 48.30 set by Sean King from Oñate High School in 1991.
Vigil repeated the feat during the finals to win the 400, but fell short of surpassing his previous day's time and settled for a time of 47.59 seconds. Vigil also won the 100 and 200-meter dashes and the long jump. His participation in the boys 4x100-meter relay helped propel the team to victory and garnered the phenom an impressive five-for-five in first place finishes.
Of the seven boys from Taos who qualified to compete in their respective events, all seven brought points in for the team. Earning the second most points (8) for the Tigers was Alejandro Salazar, who had two third-place finishes in both the 300-meter hurdles and the triple jump. Joining Salazar was John Olivas (5), who padded Taos' score with a third place in the long jump and a sixth in the 200-meter dash. Abdul Khweis (4 points), John Esquibel (2), Justin Good (1) and Derreck Chacon (1) rounded out the scorers for the Tigers.
In the relays, the 4x100 team of Nathaniel Martinez, Vigil, Jonathan Garcia and Olivas edged Moriarty by two-tenths of a second to win with a time of 43.71 seconds.
The 4x200-meter relay team comprised of Salazar, Garcia, Esquibel and Olivas came in fourth with a time of 1:32.46. The 1,600-meter sprint medley relay team with Martinez, Garcia, Adrian Rodriguez and Salazar finished second with a time of 3:41.60.
The grand finale of the entire state meet, and fan favorite, is the 4x400-meter relay. For Taos, the event has become a showcase event with victories the last three consecutive years, and five wins in the last six years. The best time in the 4x400 came in 2016 when the Tigers won with a time of 3:25.95. With Taos sitting on 71 points and Silver at 67 before the start of the final race, the pressure to deliver was hoisted on the shoulders of Taos' Garcia, Esquibel, Khweis and Salazar. This team of four didn't disappoint and won with a time of 3:26.37 to clinch another state championship.
Jonah Vigil – 28 points:
100-meter dash – 11.05 seconds (first)
200-meter dash – 22.07 seconds (first)
400-meter dash – 47.59 seconds (first)
Long jump – 23 feet, 2.75 inches (first)
Alejandro Salazar – 8 points:
300-meter hurdles – 40.64 seconds (third)
Triple jump – 43 feet, 4 inches (third)
Derreck Chacon – 1 point:
110-meter hurdles – 16.66 seconds (sixth)
John Olivas – 5 points:
200-meter dash – 23.54 seconds (sixth)
Long jump – 21 feet, 2.5 inches (third)
John Esquibel – 2 points:
400-meter dash – 23.54 seconds (fifth)
Abdul Khweis – 4 points:
800-meter run – 1:59.87 seconds (third)
Justin Good – 1 point:
Discus throw – 124 feet, 10 inches (sixth)
* - Scoring for individuals is a follows: 7 points for first place, 5 for second, 4 for third, 3 for fourth, 2 for fifth and 1 for sixth. Individuals also receive a share of total points garnered in a relay race finish. For instance, Jonah Vigil received an additional 2.5 points from the 8 points earned in the first place finish by the 4x100-meter relay team.
State finishers – Relay Teams†
Boys teams – 32 points
4x100-meter relay – 43.71 seconds (first)
4x200-meter relay – 1:32.46 (fourth)
4x400-meter relay – 3:26.37 (first)
1,600-meter sprint medley – 3:41.60 (second)
† - Scoring for relay teams is a follows: 10 points for first place, 8 for second, 6 for third, 4 for fourth, 2 for fifth and 1 for sixth.