AZTEC — After winning two individual state titles and helping Aztec claim its first girls' team track championship last year, Kayli Farmer is looking for similar results this season.
Farmer has put up strong performances at big meets recently. The Aztec senior won the javelin event and placed second in the high jump at the Marilyn Sepulveda Meet of Champions on April 14.
The meet was an invitation-only event and featured the top track and field athletes from schools of all classifications across the state.
Farmer said competition against so many tough athletes this season has been key to her improvement.
"I think I've improved a lot in the (javelin). One of the biggest things when I go to the bigger meets is I've got a lot more competition," she said. "It's best of the best, and they push me to be better."
Farmer's improvement showed in the javelin event at the meet in Albuquerque a week ago. She threw a career-best 141 feet, seven inches to claim the title, besting the nearest competitor, Rio Rancho's Nicole Pendley, by eight feet.
Farmer was also 29 feet, four inches ahead of the nearest 4A competitor, making her the clear favorite to repeat as the event champion at the state championship meet in May.
"I was super thrilled. It was surreal when I threw 141 (feet)," said Farmer, who bested last year's championship throw by more than nine feet. "It didn't look like it went that far."
Farmer was also the 4A girls high jump champion last season, after jumping five feet, two inches a year ago.
Last week, she upped the height to five feet, four inches, but lost to Chelsea Challacombe of Los Alamos by four inches.
Farmer said she is really working on improving in the high jump, and knows it will be much tougher to defend her title in that event.
"With high jump, I know I can do better," she said. "I'd really like to better that height."
Farmer was also a star soccer player in the fall for the Lady Tigers, earning second-team all-state honors and helping the team finish in second place for the second straight season.
She said the two sports help balance each other out and there are a lot of similarities between the them.
"They both demand so much from the athletes," she said. "You have to be able to run long distances. I just think they go hand-in-hand."
Head coach Anna Strauss has also seen Farmer take on more of a leadership role within the team in her final season.
"She's a hard worker and a real competitor," Strauss said. "She's a good leader and role model for the younger girls."
Farmer and the rest of the Aztec track team will continue the season this weekend as the team hosts the two-day B&B Invite beginning Friday.
"It's always nice to have the home-field advantage. You're always more comfortable," she said. "I'm just ready to get back out there."