Kim Perkins and the rest of the New Mexico Stars will compete at the USATF state championships Saturday and Sunday in Albuquerque. (CNJ staff photo)
By John Eisel: CNJ sports writer
Last summer’s track season ended a little sooner than Clovis High School’s Kim Perkins would have liked.
She won the 400-meter hurdles in her age group at the USA Track and Field state championships before repeating as champ at regionals.
However, an emergency with one of the coaches prevented her from going.
“I was sad,” said Perkins, who won the 300-meter Class 5A state title this spring as a junior. “It was just a bummer.”
She doesn’t see any reason why she won’t qualify for nationals again and a few teammates hope to join her.
Perkins is part of the New Mexico Stars, a summer track team for athletes ages 8 to 18 that was started last year.
The Stars will compete in the state championships this Saturday and Sunday at the University of New Mexico track stadium in Albuquerque.
Also on the Stars are recent Clovis graduates Phillip Williams and Damian Robinson. Robinson won the state title in the 110-meter hurdles and said he couldn’t have done it without training with the Stars last year.
“I was just doing it for football,” said Robinson, who is looking to run hurdles at either UNM or the University of Northern Colorado. “I didn’t expect to turn around and win state.”
Robinson said he expects to do very well at the USATF meet, saying it probably won’t be as competitive as the prep state meet.
Stars coach and Clovis assistant track coach Derico Cooper said Robinson is an example of what hard work over the summer can do.
“He went from being one of the sorriest hurdlers to the best one,” said Cooper.
Perkins and Cooper said training for the Stars is tougher than during the spring, as the athletes are in better condition.
Cooper hopes the Stars, which is open for athletes ages 8 to 18, can take advantage of the area’s talent. He said the stars have a couple of young athletes who could win this weekend, including Kennan Bussen, 12, Kira Bussen, 11, Deon Clere, 14, and Brock Hampton, 8.
“I can get the younger kids to supplement both high school teams,” Cooper said. “The whole area is untapped as far as track and field is concerned.”
Clovis head boys track coach Darren Kelley said the Stars are a great situation for local prep track athletes.
“The biggest thing that helps is keeping them running over the summer,” said Kelley, who had high praise for Cooper.
“It’s kind of nice to have them compete in a relaxed atmosphere.”
“The big thing is that it’s a time for them to have fun.”