By Kevin Wilson
Qualifying in track events has proven to be no challenge for Noel Carpenter.
What’s difficult for the Floyd sophomore is to remember them all.
Carpenter qualified for nine events in this weekend’s state track and field tournament in Albuquerque, though meet rules stipulate that an athlete can only compete in five at the state meet.
She will compete in the 800-meter, the 100-meter hurdles, the long jump, the medley relay and the mile relay. The four events she qualified for, but won’t compete in, are the 400-meter, the 300-meter hurdles, the triple jump and the spring relay.
“I think I could qualify in more events if (Floyd coach Jeff Gillespie) put me in them. I don’t choose what I run. He does.”
Carpenter has given Gillespie a lot of margin for error in the meets leading up to this weekend’s at the University of New Mexico with her performance. Gillespie said that the girls need that kind of performance to have a shot at placing.
“They have a chance to score between 30 and 40 points,” Gillespie said after Wednesday’s practice at Portales High School. “A lot of it depends on what Carpenter does.”
The Lady Broncos bring Carpenter and seven other girls to Albuquerque, a few of whom have a chance to win an invidividual title. Kelli Johnson is currently in first by 20 seconds in the 3,200-meter field.
Gillespie expects Fort Sumner and Carrizozo to be the favorites, an opinion shared by most track coaches in Class 1A. However, Carpenter is hoping for more.
“I think the girls have a chance to take first,” Carpenter said. “Fort sumner will be really tough but we’ve got a good chance if we put our hearts in it.”
The Broncos will bring seven boys in total — four competitors, two alternates and Manny Carrillo as manager. Gillespie said he will have to use either Eric Irwin or Jason Martinez on a relay team to replace Chance Chenault, who will miss Friday’s events due to a Future Farmers of America event.
Dora has three athletes going to the state meet. Justin Day is going in the 100 and 200-meter dashes, Matt Carpenter qualified in the high jump and shot put and sophomore D’Shawn Pettigrew will represent the Lady Coyotes in the long jump.
Dora track coach Bill Stockton said that Pettigrew was actually working on the triple jump all season, but entered the long jump on a whim in last week’s District 3-1A meet and placed second.
The Portales track team heads into the District 4-3A championship meet at Lovington today. The Rams and Lady Rams have a few qualifiers going in, but hope to earn some more spots. The top two finishers in each event will qualify for next week’s 3A state meet in Bernalillo, in addition to anybody who hits a qualifying mark.
“You just never know who you’ll qualify,” Portales girls track coach Ruth Chavez said.
The Lady Rams have three relay teams qualified — the 800-meter, the medley and the mile. The only individual qualifier for the girls is junior Ryo Fujikawa, who has earned a spot at state in the javelin, the shot put and long jump. She will enter all three of those events today in Lovington, plus the 200-meter and the triple jump.
“She’s going in the events she does best to try to improve her marks,” Chavez said.
The Portales boys so far have two athletes qualified — Les Long and Josh Wilbanks, each in the 100-meter dash.
The Ram tennis teams take the courts today at New Mexico Military Institute, where they will look to qualify in singles and doubles for the individual championships.
Team competition will be on Saturday, also at NMMI.
The Portales girls are favored to win district, earning them a shot at their second Class 1A-3A title in the last three seasons.
They’ll most likely have to beat Lovington to do it. Senior Sara Bulls said the team is trying to forget about the 8-1 victory Portales took a month ago against the Lady Wildcats.
“I don’t like to think about it because I want to focus on the game,” Bulls said. “All that matters is tomorrow and it doesn’t matter how bad we beat them last time.”
The boys have a harder task ahead. Portales needs to upset NMMI, the back-to-back state champion, on the Colts’ home courts. Sophomore Chris Kirchner was the only player to win a match in the Rams’ 8-1 loss at NMMI, but he thinks the Rams can get over the hump with hard work.
“We’re just going to have to work, not quit,” Kirchner said. “We had a chance. It’s just that we didn’t play up to the best of our abilities.”
The Portales softball team will be in regional action on Saturday at Bernalillo. The first pitch is set for 3 p.m. The winner will qualify for the Class 3A state tournament.