Piedra Vista s Zach Johnson, Kerstin Ortiz (center) and Zhianna Flores (right) pose for a photo at the Piedra Vista High School track on Monday.
Piedra Vista s Zach Johnson, Kerstin Ortiz (center) and Zhianna Flores (right) pose for a photo at the Piedra Vista High School track on Monday. (Augusta Liddic/The Daily Times)
FARMINGTON — With more than a month until the state track and field meet, Piedra Vista runners are already off to flying start this season.

Seniors Zach Johnson and Kerstin Ortiz and junior Zhianna Flores each won two individual titles for PV at Aztec' Icebreaker meet on Thursday and all three have their sights set on a state championship.

Johnson won the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes with times of 10.98 and 22.30, and thinks he is on pace to capture his first individual state title.

"It's early and we've only ran two meets, but I hit state qualifying times in both," Johnson said. "The more training I can do, the better I'll get. All of this is to get ready for state so you're in top form."

The Panther senior placed second in the 100 meter last year and believes he is the favorite to capture the state title in May.

"Pretty much everybody in that final graduated except Josh Gonzales of Artesia. He along with Beau Clafton from our team present the biggest challenge in 4A," Johnson said.

Johnson was disqualified in the 200 meter for a false start at state last season and said he is ready to make amends for it this year.

Like Johnson, Flores also won the 100 and 200 meter races.

Constant training has been the key to her success, Flores said.

"I train twice a day," she said. "I train here with the track team, then I'll do weight lifting or extra running."

Flores still hasn't competed in her best event, the 300-meter hurdles, which she is the state record holder, and is confident that she can claim multiple state titles.

"I feel like I have a really good chance of doing it if I keep my training up," she said of adding the 100 and 200 meter state titles to her 300-meter hurdles.

Assistant coach Jared Howell, who works primarily with the sprinters, said the strength of the two runners has been important to both getting off to fast starts in 2013.

"You can look at Zhianna and tell she is just a strong kid," Howell said. "And Zach is just really smart and very coachable which helps. Both are real smart kids and applied themselves in the offseason. The skies the limit for them."

Ortiz joined her teammates with two titles in Aztec, winning the 800 and 1600-meter runs.

Ortiz has been a strong athlete for the Lady Panthers all year, winning a cross country and swimming district title and said both sports have had benefits for her coming into the track season.

"I'm in better shape. I decided to do cross country to specifically get in better shape for track to help my endurance," she said. "I feel a lot stronger this year and then swimming kept me off my legs. I gained more core strength from that and added to my endurance."

With Ortiz coming into the track season off of her solid cross country and swimming performances, she looks poised to improve on last year's fifth place finish at state in the 800-meter.

"She's running better times now, then what she did toward the end of the season last year," said assistant coach Shaun Taylor, who works with the longer distance runners. "We're expecting much, much better times when we get to state and district, provided she stays fit and healthy. She has a good shot of getting into the top two in the 800 and top five minimum in the 1600."

With a good group of runners at his disposal, PV head coach Mark Turner thinks his squads have a decent shot at bring home a team state championship.

"They are part of the core, not all of it, but part of it," Turner said. "They'll be good. I'm looking forward to watching them run. It will be fun."

Joshua Perry may be reached at jperry@daily-times.com or 505-564-4577. Follow him on Twitter @jperrysuu.

 

10 Questions with Zach Johnson

What music do you listen to in warmups?

 

  • It ranges between rap and indy-pop, because I want to get pumped up, but relaxed at the same time.

    What is your favorite pre-meet food?

     

  • Pasta.

    What is your biggest fear or phobia?

     

  • Heights.

    Who is your favorite athlete?

     

  • Michael Jordan or Yohan Blake.

    What is your favorite class?

     

  • Math or Environmental Science.

    What is your dream car?

     

  • Audi R8.

    What is your favorite TV show?

     

  • The Big Bang Theory.

    What are your plans after high school?

     

  • Go to college, hopefully I'll run track somewhere.

    If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

     

  • The ability to control time.

    What is your dream vacation?

     

  • The Bahamas.

     

    10 Questions with Kerstin Ortiz

    What music do you listen to in warmups?

     

  • Anything that has a fast beat and gets me going.

    What is your favorite pre-meet food?

     

  • Green tea and coconut bars.

    What is your biggest fear or phobia?

     

  • I'm fearless.

    Who is your favorite athlete?

     

  • Mary Kane and Sarah Baxter.

    What is your favorite class?

     

  • I like all my classes.

    Do you have any hidden talents?

     

  • I like to play the piano.

    What is your favorite TV show?

     

  • That 70's Show.

    What are your plans after high school?

     

  • I plan on going to college and going into a science related field.

    If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

     

  • Photographic memory.

    What is your dream vacation?

     

  • Germany, to visit my family.

     

    10 Questions with Zhianna Flores

    What music do you listen to in warmups?

     

  • I like hip-hop.

    What is your favorite pre-meet food?

     

  • Smoothie.

    What is your biggest fear or phobia?

     

  • I'm fearless.

    Who is your favorite athlete?

     

  • Sandra Richards-Ross.

    What is your favorite class?

     

  • English.

    What is your dream car?

     

  • An Escalade.

    What is your favorite TV show?

     

  • Pretty Little Liars.

    What are your plans after high school?

     

  • I'm going to college.

    If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

     

  • Invisibility.

    What is your dream vacation?

     

  • The Sandals.