Experience paying off for Ortiz

Bovina senior Edgar Ortiz enters this weekend’s Texas Class 1A state track meet in Austin ranked near the top in his class in the 1,600 and 3,200. CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth

By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer

Preparing for his third trip to the Texas state track meet, Bovina senior Edgar Ortiz has become a seasoned veteran.

Ortiz qualified for Class 1A state competition in the 3,200 meters at the University of Texas in Austin two years ago, but did not place. Last year he made it in the 1,600 and the 3,200, placing second in the latter in 10 minutes, 3.7 seconds.

This year, Ortiz is back for another crack at both races. He runs the 3,200 Friday and the 1,600 Saturday.

“He’s worked extremely hard and knows what’s on the line,” Bovina track coach Kent Torbert said. “He’s learning to adjust his running style and have a strategy in running his races.”

Senior Jessica Withrow will represent Muleshoe’s girls in four events on Friday — long jump, high jump and the 100 and 300 hurdles.

Ortiz ran times of 10:04.8 in the 3,200 and 4:34.6 in the 1,600 in regional competition two weeks ago. His 3,200 time isn’t far off his personal-best of 10:03.7 last year at state, but it appears he’ll have more competition.

“It’s going to be hard; there’s a lot of competition,” said Ortiz, noting several runners have dipped under the 10-minute mark. “I just want to follow the leaders and kick it in the last two laps.

“The two-mile (3,200) is better for me because it’s a slower pace.”

It also may benefit him because he says he likes to run in cooler weather, and he may get that with the early start.

His 1,600 time ranks third among the eight state finalists, Torbert said, while his 3,200 time is sixth.

“Running early on Friday morning, and then having most of that day and most of (Saturday) to rest, will help him a bunch,” Torbert said.

Ortiz figures the 1,600 will be close.

“It’s anybody’s race; it’s the same thing,” he said. “The last two laps I’ll just try to pass everybody.”

Withrow won 3A girls high jump at state as a sophomore in 2003 and finished a close second last year. She’s been second in the 300 hurdles both years.

Going in this weekend, Muleshoe coach Benjie Jay said she ranks first in high jump and 300 hurdles, second in the 100 hurdles and fourth in long jump. In fact, she has the best time in any class in the 300 hurdles with her 43.56 effort in regional competition.

“We feel pretty good about her chances in all four events,” Jay said. “We think her chances are real good in the high jump, although she’s going to have to jump well. And her chances are real good in the 300 hurdles.”