Clark looks for big payoff

By Dave Wagner

Texico senior Christina Clark is hoping her experience at the Class 2A state track meet pays big dividends this weekend.
After finishing first in shot put, second in discus and sixth in javelin last spring, she’s ready to improve on that showing in the two-day small-school state get-together beginning this morning at the University of New Mexico’s track stadium in Albuquerque.
“I think it’s a mental thing right now,” said Clark, who has qualified for state the last three years. “I’m ready for it. It’s my senior year, so I feel like I have to win.”
While she leads a solid Lady Wolverines contingent into the event, a strong showing from Clark is all but a must if Texico is to contend for team honors.
“I think we have a shot (at a team title), but there’s going to be some stiff competition up there,” Texico girls coach Randy Zarate said, naming off teams like Cimarron and Tucumcari among others. “I think she has a great shot at all three of them.”
Ironically, Clark enters the weekend with the best throw from 2A district competition in javelin, but ranks second in both shot put (to Capitan’s Jessica Becker) and discus (to Cloudcroft’s Kara Goss).
“I feel confident in all three,” Clark said. “Both (Becker and Goss) are juniors, so I think I have an advantage because of my experience there.
“I believe if I win the discus, I’ll win all three of them.”
This year Clark has had to work her practice around a fulltime job most afternoons and evenings. But Mike Prokop, who coaches Texico’s throwers, said he doesn’t think that will hinder her chances.
“It’s been a little hard this year because she’s had to get a job, but she’s done what she needs to,” Prokop said. “She’s a real competitor.
“She’s got a legitimate shot. It just depends on who can do it that day.”
Clark said she’s worked this spring on her consistency.
“Having been there before is definitely an advantage,” she said. “I know fans-wise what to expect. Looking up in the stands (at UNM) is scary, but after that first throw all the nervousness is gone.”
Throwing ahead of Becker and Goss in the rotation could turn out to be beneficial, Zarate said.
“I really feel like throwing second (from last), she might be able to get in the other girls’ heads,” he said.
In Class 1A, Fort Sumner will be represented by 18 boys and 13 girls. The Foxes, who won state boys titles in 1999 and 2000 and were runners-up in 2001 and 2002 in Class 2A before moving down this year, are overwhelming favorites to win the school’s 13th boys team track title.
Coach Mario Martinez said the Foxes are ranked first or second in every track event going in, giving them the mind-boggling possibility of a sweep of the running events.
“We’ve certainly got a lot of talent, and the kids have worked hard,” Martinez said. “We’ve had a good year, and barring real bad luck we should be in good shape.”
That’s hardly an idle boast. Thursday’s Albuquerque Journal reported that “if previous times and distances are met, the Foxes could win by the lopsided margin of 138-48 with Cliff in second.”
Fort Sumner girls also have solid medal chances.
The Vixens are ranked first in the 800 and 1,600 relays and second in the 400 relay, while sophomore Tobea Patterson has the top marks in the 800 and high jump while senior Sonja Moyer and eighth-grader Laurel Herrera are ranked second in the 300 hurdles and discus, respectively.