Tanner Fickling, left, helped Clovis take fourth in the 800-meter relay Saturday at the state track meet. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)
By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer
ALBUQUERQUE — Clovis senior Damian Robinson gave himself a little birthday present Saturday.
He also helped elevate the Wildcats to a fourth-place team finish in Class 5A state track competition at the University of New Mexico.
Robinson pulled away from Highland’s Ian Clark to win the 110-meter hurdles finals with a time of 14.53 seconds. The win came on his 18th birthday.
“I wasn’t going to let my dream get away,” Robinson said. “I wanted to win this one real bad.”
The Wildcats had hoped to finish in top three, but they couldn’t keep up with Highland, La Cueva and Rio Rancho.
Highland dethroned eight-time champion La Cueva with 106 points to 84 for the Bears, followed by Rio Rancho at 73 and the Wildcats at 38.
Clark, who went in seeded first in the 110 hurdles, finished second in 14.89 seconds and immediately pounded the track in frustration. La Cueva’s Clint McPeek was third in 15.05.
Robinson, who had the lane in between Clark and McPeek, said he first competed against Clark in an indoor meet over the winter at UNM and was able to stay in striking distance. That gave him hope he could win this time.
“I knew if I could stay with him, it would be close,” he said. “I think if I had been on the outside lane, I probably wouldn’t have run as hard.
“It’s a nice birthday present. I knew I should probably give myself something, and I was able to give our team something also.”
Clovis finished third in the 1,600 medley relay in 3:50.75, with Tanner Fickling, Rishard Matthews, Charles Moon and Matt Loewen, and third in the meet-ending 1,600 relay in 3:26.48 with Tanner Williams, Fickling, Phillip Williams and Matthews.
Coach Darren Kelley said he was impressed with the finale, noting that by that time everyone on the relay was pretty much running on fumes.
“I can’t ask for any more,” Kelley said. “We ran our best times this weekend in every one of our relays.
“We competed to the end. What more can you ask?”
The Cats got a 4-6 finish in long jump from Phillip Williams (21-1 1/4) and freshman Manuel Robles (20-6 1/4), who had put the team on the board Friday with his startling last-jump victory in triple jump.
Clovis’ other points on Saturday came on fourth-place finishes by Phillip Williams in the 200 (22.58) and the 800 relay team of Tanner Williams, Matthews, Fickling and Phillip Williams (1:30.77), and a sixth by freshman Deondre Hunter in the 300 hurdles (42.69).
“There were some things we could’ve done better, but we had penciled in 40 points before we came here,” Kelley said. “We knew going in we had an outside chance of getting third, but Rio Rancho competed well.”
Kelley said a hamstring injury to senior Jacob Jones, sustained in last week’s district meet, hurt the cause. Jones tried to make a go of it in the 400 but struggled, and his injury forced Kelley to do some juggling in the 800 and 1,600 relays.