FARMINGTON — As the high school track and field season nears its midpoint, the top athletes in San Juan County are beginning to hit their strides.
Farmington, Piedra Vista, Aztec, Kirtland Central and Bloomfield all took part in the Farmington High Invite on Saturday at Hutchison Stadium.
The athletes have set their minds on improving at each meet, with hopes of peaking in time for the district and state championships in May.
"We're just trying to get qualified for our events," Aztec junior Sarah Root said. "We're all looking forward to state to see what we can do."
As the defending 4A champion, the target is on the Aztec girls team, but Root said the team is just focused on its own improvement.
"We're not really worried about anybody else. We're just looking at what we have as a team," she said.
The Piedra Vista girls team won the team title at the FHS Invite ahead of Aztec. The Lady Panthers will be the Lady Tigers' toughest competition throughout the year after finishing third in state last season.
"I feel like we have a really good shot at state this year," Piedra Vista senior Zhianna Flores said. "We just have to continue working."
The Piedra Vista boys also won the team title at the meet.
The Panthers are coming off a 4A championship but have faced challenges from Farmington High all season long after the Scorpions placed second at state a season ago.
"The competition in the Four Corners is getting so much stronger," PV senior Beau Clafton said. "We're able to compete against each other and better ourselves."
Clafton won four events at the meet — 100-meter, 200-meter, long jump and javelin — and said he's been feeling confident in his events.
"Everything is going good. I'm much better than last year when I was coming off a pulled hamstring," Clafton said.
The Scorpions have been driven by last year's second-place finish and are using it as motivation this year.
"That's what's been feeding us this whole year was second place. Especially coming in second place to the crosstown rival," FHS senior Devin Hull said. "I love competing against them, and it makes it more fun."
Clafton agreed with Hull and said PV is better because of the challenge FHS poses.
"It's a really friendly competition. We're all pushing each other," Clafton said. "We're all good friends, but you can't lose to your rival."
The Scorps finished in third at their meet, behind PV and Taos, but Hull sees the FHS team getting better every day.
"We've got a good team this year. We're improving steadily,"
Hull anchored both the 4X100 and 4X200-meter relay victories for FHS at the meet.
"We just need to keep working hard," he said. "If we do, then we'll be perfectly fine."