Clovis High junior Ebony Bunton will try to defend her girls Wildcat Relays high jump championship of a year ago in today’s competition at Leon Williams Stadium. Bunton cleared 5-5 1/2 in last year’s meet. (CNJ staff photo: Andy DeLisle)
By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer
Had the Wildcat Relays gone off on Friday as anticipated, the meet had the potential to be a Class 5A state preview.
With a better forecast on tap today, Clovis High officials opted earlier this week to move the event back a day. In the process, it cost the meet some of the expected talent.
Boys and girls teams from Cibola and Manzano backed out because their schools have proms scheduled for tonight. Later in the week, the Alamogordo and Highland girls teams also withdrew.
“It would’ve really been a great preview (of the 5A state meet) if we hadn’t had to push it back,” said CHS girls coach Darrel Ray, whose squad will be trying to defend its state at Albuquerque in May.
Still, Ray and boys coach Darren Kelley are optimistic the meet will be nothing short of high quality.
In addition to CHS, Rio Rancho, Eldorado, La Cueva, Hobbs and Class 3A Lovington are expected to send boys and girls teams. Alamo and Highland will still have boys teams in the field, while 3A Las Vegas Robertson is bringing a girls squad.
CHS athletic director Brian Stacy said Friday that some smaller schools from the Texas side of the state line are also planning on entering a few individuals.
Field events begin at noon with running events (no preliminaries) starting at 2:30 p.m. at Leon Williams Stadium.
Ray said of the missing girls teams, Cibola and Alamo should be among the title contenders at state, while Manzano lacks overall depth but has perhaps the state’s top sprinter in freshman Isis Wilson.
Other state contenders, he said, could be La Cueva, Eldorado and Rio Rancho.
Clovis’ girls finished second last week in an invitational hosted by Moriarty, losing by eight points to Rio Rancho. Junior Ebony Bunton won high jump for the Lady Cats and posted state-qualifying marks while finishing second in triple jump and third in long jump.
Meantime, senior Kacee Escobar was first in shot put at 39-4, the second-best mark this spring in 5A.
“We’ve used our first four meets to kind of sort out how to utilize our people the best,” Ray said. “I think we’ve got our relays pretty much figured out.”
The boys field also includes several state contenders, although for Clovis to get into the mix the Wildcats will have to maximize a relatively thin squad.
Junior Manuel Robles, the two-time defending 5A triple jump champion, leads the Cats and has class-best marks this spring in that event and long jump while ranking second in high jump to Rio Rancho’s Marcus Williams.
Senior Michael Cohen is ranked third in 5A in shot put — the top two competitors are also scheduled to compete today — while junior Jordan Mendoza is No. 2 in javelin.
“We’re going to do better at a state-type meet (than a normal meet) because our guys are still going to place in most events,” Kelley said. “Our goal is to try to get our (4 x 100 relay) qualified (for state).
Robles will run on that relay today, Kelley said, and also compete in the three jumps and the 200.
Kelley said Alamogordo has perhaps as deep and well-rounded a team as anyone in 5A and could be the favorite to take the state crown next month.