By John Eisel: CNJ sports writer
In Darrel Ray’s 26 years of coaching track, he’s never seen a group of jumpers with the potential to reach so high.
Junior Brittany Blackmon and freshmen Ebony Bunton and Jasmine McDonald have already qualified for the state meet in May in the high jump, while sophomore Mahalia Molett is only 2 inches off the 5-foot qualifying mark.
“We had two last year and I thought that was a pretty big deal,” said Ray.
Blackmon finished third and Molett qualified for last year’s state meet, with Blackmon finishing third.
Ray said the four girls possess a rare combination of height — — three of who stand at least 5-10 — and athleticism.
Assistant coach Regina Downing said competing against each other only makes them better in practice, but the competitiveness never turns bitter.
“If one wins first place, they’ll all celebrate,” she said.
Clovis had plenty to celebrate last weekend at the Las Vegas Invitational. The Lady Wildcats captured 13 event victories at the meet, which was populated mostly by 4A and 3A schools.
Sophomore Heather Malloy was a four-time winner, capturing the 100 meters in 12.52 seconds. She was also ran on the 400-, 800- and 1,600-meter relays.
Junior Kim Perkins joined Malloy on the 1,600 and 800 relays, and also won the triple jump (31-10) and the 300 hurdles (47.92).
In her first season as a high jumper, Bunton cleared 5-6 Saturday, which is only 2 inches off the school record. She concentrated on sprints last year.
Bunton, Blackmon and McDonald all cleared 5-2 on March 19 at the Gene Wells Invite in Hobbs.
“She just flies over the bar like it’s nothing,” Downing said of Bunton.
Bunton and Blackmon had only one practice before the Hobbs meet because they were with the state-championship hoops team.
“It feels like I’ve been doing it for a long time,” said Bunton, who was wearing an ‘Incredibles’ T-shirt after practice on Monday.
Coaches and teammates said Bunton still has a lot to work to do on technique and that she cleared 5-6 on sheer athletic ability.
“Anyone of the two can win at the state track meet,” Ray said of Bunton and Blackmon.
“I know Ebony has a better mark, but I wouldn’t bet against Brittany,” Downing said, pointing out Blackmon’s competitiveness.
As usual, Clovis is solid in sprints and relays. Ray said the high jumpers could put the team in contention for a state title.