Piedra Vista junior Zhianna Flores runs past her competition in the 200-meter dash during the District 1-4A track and field meet on Saturday at Kirtland
Piedra Vista junior Zhianna Flores runs past her competition in the 200-meter dash during the District 1-4A track and field meet on Saturday at Kirtland Central. (Curtis Ray Benally/Special to The Daily Times)
KIRTLAND — Track and field athletes from across San Juan County battled on Saturday for district championships and a place at the state meet.

The Aztec girls and Piedra Vista boys came away with the team titles at the District 1-4A meet in Kirtland.

The Lady Tigers held off the Lady Panthers for first place with a team score of 188.5 to PV’s 149.
“It’s huge. I’m proud of the girls,” said Aztec girls’ head coach Anna Strauss. “They all came and competed as a team and had each other’s back. These kids have worked hard all year, and it paid off for them. A lot of kids qualified, and a lot of kids had (personal records).”

PV assistant coach Wes Pringle believes Aztec is the favorite for a 4A championship in Albuquerque next week.

“Aztec is probably the state champion,” Pringle said. “They are extremely deep. We know where we stand going against Aztec, and you’re looking at probably two of the three best teams in the state. Even though we finished second, we have had district champion (teams) that weren’t better than this team.”

While Aztec won the team title with a balanced effort in all events, PV’s Zhianna Flores stood out as one of the top individuals, winning three events and running one of the fastest times in the country for the 300-meter hurdles this year.

Flores finished the race with a time of 42.29 seconds, which currently ranks eighth among high school runners nationwide, according to the MileSplit website.

“It feels really good,” she said. “I write the times I have to beat on my hand and, luckily, I beat that one.”

Flores also won the district title in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, and she holds the fastest times in 4A in both distances this season.
The Aztec girls track team poses for a photo after winning district.
The Aztec girls track team poses for a photo after winning district. (Curtis Ray Benally/Special to The Daily Times)


Aztec’s Sarah Root won three events as well, taking first place in the triple jump, long jump and 100-meter hurdles.

Root is the defending state champion for the triple jump and has the farthest distance in the state this season, regardless of classification.

PV’s Kerstin Ortiz and Katie Hegarty each won a pair of titles. Ortiz won the 800-meter and 3200-meter runs, while Hegarty took first place in the shot put and javelin.

Hegarty owns the longest shot put toss in the state this season at 41 feet, 7 inches.

Five more girls won individual titles for the Lady Tigers.

Sierra Martinez won the 400-meter dash with a time of 59.49. Elana Kresl finished first in the 1600-meter run with a time of 5:37.01. Rikki Newland (discus throw), Morgan Smith (pole vault) and Kelcie Gerry (high jump) also claimed titles for Aztec.

“It was a total team effort, and everybody contributed,” Strauss said. “In every event, we scored and had kids step up.”

The PV girls swept all four of the relay races.

“One thing the girls are proud of is they won all four relays and didn’t use our best sprinter,” Pringle said, as Flores sat out the relay events.

On the boys’ side, PV finished in front of Farmington High for the district title by a score of 170-148.

“It’s big for us to repeat,” Pringle said. “There’s two really deep teams.
The Piedra Vista boys track team celebrates winning the District 1-4A title.
The Piedra Vista boys track team celebrates winning the District 1-4A title. (Curtis Ray Benally/Special to The Daily Times)
There are going to be kids from either of the Farmington schools on the medal stand next week. That’s a certainty.”

Beau Clafton won a pair of district titles for the Panthers, topping the podium in the 100-meter dash and javelin.

Clafton’s throw of 185 feet, 2 inches was the farthest in the state so far this season.

Brandon Levi also won two district titles for PV, finishing first in the 800-meter and 3200-meter runs.

Jeremy Klepac of FHS won three district titles, finishing in first place in the 110-meter hurdles, 300-meter hurdles and the long jump.

Klepac heads into the state meet with the fastest 300-meter hurdles time this year.

He will also contend for the long jump state title after his district winning leap of 22 feet, 10.5 inches beat the state’s previous longest jump by 5 inches.

FHS and PV are both strong contenders in the relay events at state.

The Panters edged by the Scorps in the 4x100 and 4x200 while FHS emerged victorious in the 4x400 meter race.

“We appreciated the competitiveness of Farmington High,” Pringle said. “They push us in every relay, or they beat us. We saw the top two teams in at least three of the four relays. To have two 4x200s running under 1:30 at this district meet has never happened. That’s huge.”

PV’s Zach Johnson (200-meter), Ty Murphy (400-meter), Harrison Fleming (160-meter) and Troy Young (discus) each won individual titles for the Panthers.

Farmington’s Avery Rasher and Miguel Andujo joined Klepac in winning district titles with Rasher emerging victorious in the triple jump and Andujo finishing first in pole vault.

Aztec’s Wyatt Schleuter took the high jump title with a leap of 6 feet, 2 inches.

Christian Mackey won the shot put title, claiming the only district title for Kirtland Central.

The teams will compete for a state title in Albuquerque with the PV girls and boys, Aztec’s girls and Farmington’s boys all capable of finishing in the top three places.

“When you get down to state, it’s a whole different ball game,” Strauss said. “It’s like you almost have to start over. I know the girls will give their best effort. I have high expectations for them.”

Pringle thinks both the PV boys and girls squads will be right in the title mix.

“The boys are competing for a state title and the girls will be right there with a lot of the competition coming from Aztec,” he said.

Joshua Perry can be reached at jperry@daily-times.com; 505-564-4648. Follow him on Twitter @jperrysuu.