ALBUQUERQUE – Jonah Vigil got what he wanted -- almost.
Taos' two top track and field athletes further established their reputation as among the best in the state Friday afternoon. Vigil cemented his name in the boys record books at the State Track and Field Championships when he ran the preliminaries of the 400 meters in the Class 4A meet in a time of
47.01 seconds. The time is not just the best in the class, but it is the best time ever recorded at the state meet -- the only place to set state records.
Minutes earlier, Powell almost matched her teammate in record-setting performances, but came up just short in the 4A girls long jump. Her jump of 18 feet, 51/2 inches won the state title but was 11/4 inches short of the 4A mark that was set in 1991.
As great as those feats were, the reactions Vigil and Powell had were just a little different. Vigil came into the meet wanting to break his personal best of 46.99, which he set at the Marilyn Sepulveda Meet of Champions last month. Given the heavy workload he faces this weekend (he will run in the 100, 200, 400 finals and a leg in the 1,600 relay), Vigil and Tigers head coach Benny Mitchell had a plan on how to satisfy Vigil's desire to meet his goals while also saving energy for a busy Saturday.
"My coach just told me, because [Saturday] I'm probably going to be dead, to just go for the record if you want it," Vigil said.
While he set a record, he did not lower his time. Whether he tries again in Saturday's finals might depend on his team's standing. Taos finds itself in third place Friday, close behind Silver. Vigil contributed to the team standings by winning the long jump. He leaped 23-23/4, which was almost 2 feet farther than Moriarty's Marvin Encinias.
Another sticking point might be the 1,600 relay, as the Tigers will be gunning to finish the meet in grand fashion.
"One of our seniors is on it, the one who starts it," Vigil said. "We told him we're going all-out for the state record."
Meanwhile, Powell went into the long jump with a goal of breaking 18 feet. She was the top seed with a season-best 17-93/4. It remained a goal until her final jump of the preliminaries, when she blew past 18-0 and established a new personal barrier to break -- a state record. Powell jumped 18-4 and 18-23/4 in the finals, but the record remained elusive -- until next year for the junior.
"It was actually pretty surprising I jumped 18-5," Powell said. "I knew I was that close, so I was just trying to convert all of my energy into my jumping."
Los Alamos' Rebecca Green had dreams of breaking the 5A mark in the discus, but the weather conspired against her. A steady 15 mph headwind that occasionally gusted to 25 mph tempered expectations, but Green finished with a throw of 130-11, which was more than
6 feet farther than Alamogordo's Brooke Payton.
"I wasn't trying to focus on [the wind], just focus on my throws," Green said.
Riannah Varela didn't come into the 6A meet with aspirations of putting her name in the record book, but she broke through with a personal best in the long jump. Varela was seeded 11th, but her second jump of 18-11/4 was a personal best and good enough for second place, behind Hobbs' Ciara Mackey. Varela didn't express surprise at her performance; rather, she felt it validated her belief that she is an elite jumper. She already is the top seed in the triple jump set for Saturday morning.
"I have high standards for both [jumps]," Varela said. "If I am up there in the triple, I should be up there in the long [jump], because they are almost the same concept."
For the second year in a row, Las Vegas Robertson's Arjay Ortiz aimed for a personal best of 6-4. This time, though, he had some competition in the form of Bernalillo's Davin Deuel. They matched each other jump for jump until they both failed to clear 6-4. Faced with a jump-off, Ortiz beat Deuel by clearing 6-3 on his first try, after Deuel failed to do so. While Ortiz repeated as high-jump champion, the moment reminded him of the football battles he experienced over the past few years in which the Cardinals came up short in winning the state title.
"When I missed at 6-4, I was like, 'Nah, I can't lose this,' " Ortiz said. "I can't be a choker, like I did in football. It was just good to win."
Taos completed its highly successful day with another win, this time from Cora Cannedy in the 3,200. The senior won the 1,600 last year for her first individual title, but had never won the 3,200. Last year was particularly frustrating, as she labored to a fifth-place finish.
"I wanted to prove to myself that I could go out there and give it my all," Cannedy said. "This is my senior year. I wanted to go out one last time and work for everyone who got me here: my coaches, my teammates."
Cannedy did that by using the pack to shield her from the wind until she broke from it and passed West Las Vegas' Azucena Gonzales-Miller to take the point. She then pulled away to win the race in 12:18.00 -- a
10.96 seconds faster than Albuquerque Hope Christian's Kylie Poole. With Ella Katz's sixth in the race, Taos took the overall team lead.
"We are striving to win a state title this year," Cannedy said. "We haven't won one in a while. So, I really wanted to support my team here. It's not just about me this year."
But it never hurts to get what you want.