Huffman wins two state titles for THS
May 10, 2023
ALBUQUERQUE - Haisley Huffman became the first Tucumcari girls athlete to win multiple events at a state meet in more than 20 years.
The junior used a clutch final attempt to repeat as Class 3A champion in the long jump on Friday. The next day, she broke a school record by winning the triple jump - an event she began practicing for only a few weeks ago.
Tucumcari track coach and athletic director Wayne Ferguson said it had been at least two decades since a Lady Rattler had won two individual events at a state meet.
During the long-jump competition Friday, Huffman had struggled with gusty winds at her back at the UNM Track-Soccer complex. She had fouled on three of four attempts.
Well behind the leaders and facing a final attempt, assistant coach Gary Hittson suggested an adjustment.
"We just moved her back about six inches and said, 'Go for it. All it takes is one jump,'" he said.
"I had to move my feet back because the wind was pushing me," Huffman said.
On that final try, Huffman soared 17 feet, 6 1/4 inches. That was 2 1/2 inches longer than state runner-up Bayler Pritchett of Ruidoso, to whom Huffman lost to at the district meet. It also was almost a foot longer than Huffman's state-winning effort last year.
After her victory was assured, Huffman exchanged celebratory hugs with her parents and coaches.
Wiping away tears, Huffman said: "All I can say is this one's for Jayden."
Jayden was Jayden Gloms, a Tucumcari freshman athlete and friend who died in a vehicle accident at the city's Five Mile Park in January. Huffman and several THS teammates wrote "All for Jayden" in the school's purple and gold colors down their legs during the state meet.
The triple jump competition Saturday was easier for Huffman. She easily had the longest distance in Class 3A in that event before the state meet. That morning, her second attempt of 34 feet, 3 inches put her safely ahead. Huffman wound up winning the event by more than 1 1/2 feet.
Huffman also broke the triple jump school record of 34-1, set by Kelly Fortner in 2001.
Huffman said Hittson kept his advice to her simple.
"He told me to have a lot of fun, make sure I had a lot of height," she recalled. "I just had to use my long-jump skills, get me further into the pit."
She said she began doing the triple jump only three weeks ago, well into the season..
"I caught on pretty easy," Huffman said. "It was difficult the first couple of days I was trying to get the hang of it. But once I got the hang of it, it brought me here."
Senior javelin thrower Alexus Lafferty came closest to taking home another first-place medal for the Lady Rattlers. Her effort of 111 feet, 2 inches, finished only behind Robertson's Liana Fernandez, who won the event for the second straight year with a throw of 114-9.
The Tucumcari girls team, with 24 points, finished sixth in the Class 3A team standings. St. Michael's dominated with 128 points, and runner-up Santa Fe Prep finished well behind with 53. Sandia Prep was third with 33 points.
Other Lady Rattlers who scored team points were:
- July Lafferty, fifth in the javelin (99-10);
- 400-meter relay team of July Lafferty, Aubriana French, Cambree Benavidez and Huffman, fifth (0:52.79);
- 800-meter relay team of July Lafferty, Huffman, French and Benavidez, sixth (1:53.83).
In the boys standings, Tucumcari finished 21st with three points. St. Michael's dominated again, with 101 points. Santa Fe Prep finished second with 54 points, and Socorro was third with 41.
Tucumcari senior javelin thrower Xzander Garcia finished sixth with an effort of 121-11. Fernando Ureste, a freshman, finished sixth in the 3,200-meter run in 10:44.57.
Tucumcari's 1,600-meter relay team of Adan Diaz, Daymion Urioste, Alijah Martinez and Curtis Gonzales finished sixth (3:37.69).
In a Special Olympics exhibition race, Tucumcari's Paul Urquizu finished fourth in the 100-meter dash. Logan's Dwayne Evans finished second, only to Quemado's Anthony Williams.