Clovis’ Manuel Robles went a personal-best 6-9 in high jump on Saturday, but was edged by Rio Rancho junior Marcus Williams (6-11) for the title in that event. (CNJ staff photo: Andy DeLisle)
By Eric Butler: CNJ correspondent
A couple of girls relay wins along with four individual victories were the day’s highlights for host Clovis at the Wildcat Relays, which also included a whole bunch of Manuel Robles footage — and leapage.
The Clovis girls finished third on Saturday with 101 points, behind La Cueva (125 points) and second-place Rio Rancho (105).
For the Clovis boys, a fourth-place result of 66 points was a point better than Rio Rancho but well behind champion Alamogordo (93).
“Our quality looked good, but our depth didn’t — especially when you consider what La Cueva brought today,” Clovis girls coach Darrel Ray said. “They outmanned us in several things — especially in the distance (runs), pole vault and several other events.”
But defending Class 5A champion Clovis did get its wins too.
The high jump stayed in the hands of the Lady Wildcats, although favorite Ebony Bunton didn’t compete as she was on suspension for violating school policy, according to her coach. Instead, Clovis’ Jasmine McDonald cleared 5 feet, 5 inches to beat Rio Rancho’s Kim Frenz and Bovina’s Yesenia Guerara, who each jumped 5-3.
Other individual wins for the Lady Cats included Kacee Escobar’s first-place throw of 38-10 1/2 in shot put and Lorena Garza’s winning heave of 122-10 1/2 in the discus — an event in which Escobar also finished second and teammate Meagan Baglien took fourth.
Sophomore Caitlin Waters supplied the most impressive Clovis individual win in the 800 meters in a time of 2:20.47 — more than five seconds faster than her nearest rival.
In the relay events, the Clovis quartet of Janea Eshleman, Heather Malloy, Antiesha Brown and Lauren McDaniel took first in the 400 relay. Malloy, Brown and McDaniel also teamed up with Tara DeWitt to win the 800 relay.
As Ray noted later, many of his athletes were part of a basketball team that advanced to the Class 5A championship game.
“Traditionally, Clovis has had to run our way into shape because we have so many girls from basketball,” Ray said. “They’re a little bit behind some of the other schools’ best performers, but they’re coming along.”
In the boys meet, Clovis got a first-place result in javelin from Jordan Mendoza, who threw 172-7 — 14 feet better than second-place Jamil Wilson of Highland High.
The rest of the Wildcats’ boys wins came from Robles.
The two-time defending state triple jump champ soared to a season-best mark in that event by jumping 46-7. He also met the state-qualifying mark by leaping 22-8 1/2 in winning the long jump.
However, Robles’ most impressive performance may well have been in high jump, where he and Rio Rancho junior Marcus Williams dueled to the point where each topped previous personal bests.
Williams and Robles missed the first two attempts at 6-9 before Robles soared over the bar cleanly. Williams, whose previous best was 6-8, then stepped up and cleared the height himself to stay alive.
When the bar was moved up to 6-11, Williams cleared on his first attempt and won the competition when Robles was unable to match the effort.
“It was fun,” Williams said. “It wasn’t like it was just me going out and doing it by myself. Manuel is a great jumper, so I had to respond to the challenge that he put up.”
Robles’ previous best in the high jump was 6-6.
“It was pretty amazing,” Robles said. “That’s the highest I’ve ever went, so I was satisfied. Good competition helps me get better.”
Brian Mead finished second in the 110-meter hurdles for Clovis and was the lead leg for the Cats’ first-place 400 relay, which also included Stefan Mills, Scott McMath and Robles.
“Alamogordo, Rio Rancho and La Cueva — those three are really good track teams,” said Clovis boys coach Darren Kelley, assessing the day’s results. “I think those three are going to compete for a trophy (at state). If we can do a few things right, we might be able to be there in case somebody makes a mistake.”