Could CHS sweep at state?

By Dave Wagner

Clovis High boys coach Darren Kelley and girls coach Darrel Ray are heading into this weekend’s Class 5A state track meet at Alamogordo with high hopes for their squads.
Neither is predicting a championship, but both believe their teams should be in the hunt.
“This is the first time we’re going in with a legitimate chance to win,” said Kelley, whose team finished third in last year’s state competition in Albuquerque and is seeking its first state team title. “We have to compete and things have to go right, but if we do compete we have a chance.”
Kelley said three teams — the Wildcats, six-time defending champion La Cueva and Highland — appear to have the best chance at a team title. The Cats and Highland are similar teams, both strong on the track, while the Bears do a lot of their damage this year in field events.
“The good thing is the (Albuquerque) teams are traveling (to the state meet) for the first time,” Kelley said. “I think that’s a big equalizer for us.”
Ray thinks the girls race is also wide open, with the Lady Wildcats contending with three Albuquerque schools — Cibola, La Cueva and Eldorado.
Last year, Eldorado ran away with the team title while the Lady Cats squeaked out a second-place finish. But the time to be satisfied with just a high finish is history, Ray said.
“We want to win it,” he said. “Our days of just getting a trophy (third place or better) were last year. Eldorado just had too many seniors and too much talent for everybody.”
The boys, who are taking 15 athletes in 15 events, are counting on major points from seniors Derond Jackson and Joey Garcia. But Kelley said the key is how what Michael Jordan once referred to as “the supporting cast” will fare.
“We have to have a couple of sophomores run well and have the weekend of their life,” Kelley said. “If we can get our young kids to run well, we’ll be fine. Joey and Derond are going to score their points.”
Garcia is a solid favorite to win both hurdles races. Jackson, a leading candidate for high point individual honors, is the frontrunner in triple jump and long jump and also has a chance to win in the 100 and 200.
In addition, both will run on the 400 relay and Garcia is also on the 800 relay, both of which could contend.
“It’s not out of the question for Derond to win four opens (individual events),” Kelley said. “It would be nice for him to win one of the sprints, because that knocks down Highland a little bit.”
The Cats are also hoping for additional points from senior Jacob Roberts in discus.
“Jacob is sitting third going into the state meet, and I think he could very easily beat the No. 2 guy,” Kelley said. “I’ll be disappointed if he isn’t somewhere between second and fourth.
“We need to score at least 20 points out of our relays. If we can do that, I think we’ll be in good shape.”
The girls’ state squad numbers 17 in 14 events. Ray is hoping for a big weekend from junior Monique Walker in the 100, 200 and long jump, and two of three events — the 400, the 400 relay and the 800 relay.
“We need Monique to have a great weekend,” said Ray, calling her “probably the best three-sport athlete” in the state. “We want Monique to be the dominant athlete in the state meet.”
Both the 400 and 800 relays are ranked No. 1 going in, although their chances to win probably depend on how Ray elects to use Walker.
The Lady Cats are a relatively young team with only one senior (LaToya Anderson) on the state roster. Ray said the battle for team honors should be close and any one of the top four could win it.
The Lady Cats have entries in 14 of the 19 events.
“We’re not making any bold predictions,” he said of the team race. “We probably have the same goal as the other three teams.”