San Juan County's fastest sprinters and hurdlers overcame their butterflies and are in good position to rack up high finishes at the New Mexico State Track and Field Championships today at the UNM Track Complex.
In the events where District 1-4A schools have commonly set the state's pace, the athletes lived up to their reputations. And Bloomfield boys have a chance at a very high finish in the final 4A competition before the Bobcats drop down to 3A next fall.
"I got caught up in the environment. I was freaking out," said Seth Booker, a Bloomfield junior, after running the fastest time in 4A in the 110-meter high hurdles preliminary race. "Now the nerves are gone and the rest of the day will be good."
Booker ran down Farmington's Daniel Lacey in the final 20 meters. Booker, Lacey and Bloomfield senior Austin Johnson finished first, second and fourth in the preliminaries. Friday was the preliminary race for most track events and the finals will be held all day Saturday.
Booker went on to post the fastest time in the 300 intermediate hurdles, which is the county's strongest individual event this year. On the boys side, the top five fastest runners in 4A heading into the eight-man final are from San Juan County.
A San Juan County boys team has a chance to score well in all the relay finals.
Bloomfield finished third and fourth in the 800 and 1600 relays but the Bobcats beat the Scorpions in both relays during the district finals last weekend.
Shantel Foutz, a Kirtland Central junior, is the defending state champion in the girls 100 hurdles. That made it all the more important her first preliminary race was a strong one, she said. She ran the fastest time in 4A on Saturday.
"I won the event last year so I really wanted to get out and have a good race in prelims because I want to get faster in the finals," Foutz said.
Foutz is expected to be in a tight race today in the 100 high hurdles. She finished .01 seconds ahead of Goddard's Alysha Bolduc and .07 seconds ahead of Nicole Jenrette, of Los Lunas.
"It makes me go faster when someone is right there pushing me," she said. "I felt (Bolduc) on me the whole time, and that made me focus on my form and keep pushing at the end."
Zhianna Flores, a Piedra Vista sophomore, got off to a huge start for the Lady Panthers on Friday. She set a school record in the 300 intermediate hurdles during the preliminaries. It was the fourth school record Flores has set recently, said Piedra Vista coach Mark Turner.
Flores has the fastest time in the 300 hurdles and the 200 dash in 4A this year.
"The first race of the day is important, it sets the mood for the rest of the day," Mikey Loy said after he won the preliminary to earn the top seed in the 100 dash finals. Loy also is commonly used as an the anchor leg on Bloomfield's 800 and 1600 relay teams and is the second seed in the 200 dash finals. "It makes me want to keep running just as hard and go win state championships in the relays."
For complete meet results from Friday go to http://www.rtspt.com/events/nmhs/3a4a5a_2012/