Rattlers will need depth at state meet

By Kevin Wilson: Quay County Sun

Depth is never a bad thing for a track team. It just might be a necessity for the Tucumcari High boys.

Going into the state track and field championships, the 2005 Class 2A runner-up has 16 members competing in 16 different events. The girls’ squad, meanwhile, has 12 girls competing in 11 different events.

The Class 2A track meet runs Thursday through Saturday at the University of New Mexico.

The Rattler boys finished off district in Texico with a first-place finish, scoring 164 points at Saturday’s meet to easily beat out Santa Rosa (126 points) and Texico (79).

The meet, however, was bittersweet in the mind of Rattler coach Wayne Ferguson.

“It was sweet by that we did add some qualifiers,” Ferguson said.

Jeremy Lopez (triple jump) and Drew White (discus), for instance, earned trips to Albuquerque over the weekend. Lopez took second place in the triple jump, while White threw a state-qualifying 127-1 1/4 in the discus.

The bitter part, Ferguson said, is the prospect of injuries coming into the state meet. Seniors Eric Holt (groin) and Adrian Jones (ankle) were injured over the weekend, and Ferguson said their status is still undetermined for the state meet.

Holt is competing individually in the 400-meter dash, while Jones is competing in the 300-meter hurdles. Both are a part of the Rattler relay squads.

If one or both cannot go, Ferguson said they’ll have to draw from the other 14 athletes set to go for Tucumcari to fill out relay squads.

“We’re lucky that we have enough depth as a team,” Ferguson said.

Senior Justin Benavidez hopes that’s not the case, and he’ll have the same teammates this weekend as he’s had throughout the spring.

“I think our main advantage is going to be speed,” Benavidez said. “But we can’t rely on relays alone. We’re going to have to get some points off of our individual events too.”

Benavidez is competing in the 100-meter and 200-meter dash, as well as the 400-meter and 800-meter relay races. As one of seven seniors for the boys, he feels the team has the experience it needs on the biggest stage of the track season.

“I feel we can (take first),” Benavidez said. “We’re all going to push each other and we’re all pushing for it.”

The girls team, which finished fourth in district, is boasting its power in youth. Of the 11 qualified for Tucumcari, only two are seniors.

One of the two seniors, Jamie Jones, feels confident about her state title chances on an individual basis and a team basis.

“We have a pretty good chance of taking first,” Jones said. “We’ve got a lot of younger girls. It’s going to be pretty interesting, but I think we can take first.”

Jones is competing in the javelin, shot put and discus. The other senior is Brandi Arenas, who is competing in the 3,200-meter run.

Jones finished second in discus last year at state, and would like to move up one placing.

“It’s my first year for the shot,” Jones said, “so I’m worried about that one.”

Ferguson’s main worry is the chance of little mistakes. Ferguson said that in his years of coaching, he’s seen that state titles are often won by the team that avoids a bad handoff or a scratch in an event. Those mistakes, Ferguson said, don’t cost you at small meets but are nightmares at state.

“If we run like we’re capable,” Ferguson said, “We’re going to be all right.”