The Clovis girls track team didn’t win its own Wildcat Relays event last year and that worked out all right — when Clovis took the Class 5A state championship.
The ‘Cats are working from behind again this season, with Rio Rancho now the front-runner. The Rams scored 135.5 points Friday night to beat second-place Clovis by 44 points while Highland, Cibola and Alamogordo rounded out the top five teams.
“We figured we were probably going to get out-manned again and get a second-place trophy and that’s fine,” Clovis girls coach Darrel Ray said.
Clovis was missing one of its top all-around athletes in junior Antiesha Brown, who was at an AAU basketball event at the University of North Carolina. Incidentally, she was on the same team with Cibola standout Amber Battle.
“I heard she (Brown) scored 19 points tonight,” Ray said.
But the host Wildcats still had plenty to crow about with the remaining cast.
In seven events, Clovis athletes finished first while four other events ended with ‘Cats in second.
Among the victors was senior Meagan Baglein, who took the shot put with a heave of 36-feet, 2-inches — almost two feet better than second place Angalisha Franklin of Hobbs. Baglein also won the discus, with a toss of 124-8, bettering runnerup Lashira Adams of Highland by almost five feet.
Fellow Clovis senior Lainey Flatow also nearly took a pair of individual wins. Flatow won the long jump at 16-8 to beat Robertson’s Kassandra Tapia. In the high jump, Flatow set a personal best by clearing 5-4 although that was only good for second when Robertson’s Marin Schweigert went two inches higher.
“I was pretty close to jumping 5-6, so he (Ray) was pretty happy about that,” Flatow said. “Real close. My body was over it, but my calves barely touched it. It stayed up there at first, but then it fell.”
Two-time defending state champ at 800 meters, Clovis’ Caitlin Waters won that event by three seconds over Rio Rancho’s Meghan Valdez. Waters stretched out a once-narrow lead by pulling away from Valdez around the final turn.
“It was a good race,” Waters said. “I was looking out for her and wasn’t going to let her pass me. I did my sprint at the end, which really helped.”
Clovis also won the 400, 800 and 1600 relay races while Janeesha Pleasant and Tara DeWitt placed second in the 100 meters and 300 hurdles respectively.
DeWitt’s placement in the hurdles race was a bit of a successful experiment by Ray. It was only the second time DeWitt ran the 300 hurdles and she passed a pair of athletes in the back stretch as she surged to the finish line.
“She’s within six-tenths of a second of qualifying (for state), in only her second race,” Ray said of DeWitt. “Her first three hurdles were cautious. We just need to get her to run the first hundred meters, when she’s fresh, the way she ran the last hundred meters."