Lady Panthers claim first-ever track title

Farmington boys overcome rough start to the weekend and battle back to place second — just 3.5 points out of first

Karl Schneider
The Piedra Vista girls track team and coaches celebrate after winning the 5A state track title on Saturday in Albuquerque.
  • The Lady Panthers finished their season unbeaten by any other 5A opponent.
  • Among girls, Aztec placed eighth, and Farmington ended in 14th place.
  • Aztec's Elana Kresl won the state title in 800 and second place in 1,600.
  • Piedra Vista 4x400 relay team finished in first place. Team was fourth overall.

ALBUQUERQUE — The Piedra Vista girls track team won its first-ever state title today at the University of New Mexico Track and Field Complex.

The Lady Panthers won the title with a point total of 78, finishing the season unbeaten by any other 5A opponent.

"I am blessed to have these people to work with. Not for me. They work with me," PV head coach Mark Turner said while surrounded by his coaching staff. "These men right here busted their tails to get us here. These coaches got the kids where we are."

The win was much closer than anyone expected as today wound down to a two-team battle between PV and Los Alamos, which finished with 69 points.

"The Los Alamos girls decided they were going to put on a heck of a meet for coach Paul Anderson’s last meet. He’s retiring this year, and they wanted it for him, so our girls had to work extra hard to get this," Turner said. "We were seeded a lot higher than what it came out. We had some disappointments, but we had more successes than disappointments."

Leading the way for the Lady Panthers was sophomore Hannah Sayyeau, who placed in her three events.

"We didn’t have anyone really pop up, but Hannah Sayyeau did a heck of a job in all three of her individual events," Turner said. "She placed in the 100(-meters), she placed in the javelin and she placed in the pole vault — and that was the goal for her this year. She did well, and she’s just a sophomore."

Los Lunas rounded out the top three with 36 points. Aztec finished eighth with 20 points, and Farmington placed 14th with 13 points.

Aztec's Elana Kresl closed out her decorated four-sport prep career by snagging a state title in the 800 and second place in the 1,600.

Despite riding into state hot after breaking district and stadium records in the 800 at last week's district meet at Fred Cook Memorial Stadium in Aztec, Kresl admitted she wasn't that confident going up against the best competition in 5A.

"Honestly, I wasn't really confident because I knew everyone runs different at state, everyone's faster at state," she said. "But I knew if I ran my race, I would be up there on the podium."

The Farmington boys team overcame a rough start to the weekend to place second with 52 points, just 3.5 points behind champion Albuquerque Academy.

"These kids are so resilient. Stuff happens in track. That’s why we compete and just don’t print out paper and hand out trophies. A lot of people thought we were down and out, and couldn’t even get a trophy after some of the mistakes we made (Friday), but these kids came to fight,” Farmington head coach Jeff Dalton said. "I’m so proud of them — all of them. Everyone chipped in."

Farmington's Jeb Pinkley celebrates after winning the 4x200-meter relay on Saturday in Albuquerque.

The Scorps picked up wins in the 4x100 and 4x200 relays and finished third in the 4x400.

In the 4x400, the final event of the weekend, the Scorps needed a third-place finish to earn the red trophy and edge Lovington by 1 point.

PV placed fourth with 32 points. Aztec scored 24 points to finish seventh.

PV’s Matthew Gonzales broke his own school record in the 400, finishing in 48.78 seconds, which was more than 1.5 seconds faster than his previous best. And it was good for second place.

"I was a wreck. All before the race, I was so nervous. It was the most nervous I’ve ever been before a race in my life. I just gave it all I had," Gonzales said. "It was relieving. That’s the one way I can put it. These past four years of high school, I’ve been trying to hit a 49 (seconds) for coach Turner, and I hit 48. Relieving."

Gonzales was also a part of PV’s 4x400 relay team that placed first, making it the highlight of the Panthers’ day.

Aztec's Justin Black clears the final hurdle on his way to winning the boys 5A 300-meter hurdles on Saturday in Albuquerque.

"Coach (Joe) Bailey out at Moriarty says, ‘You can have any kind of track meet that you want, but at the end of the day, if you have a great mile relay, you’ve had a great track meet.’ That’s what those boys did," Turner said. "They just won the mile relay and had a heck of a meet.”

Dalton said the Farmington boys and girls — despite not all finishing where they wanted to individually — set personal bests during the meet, making the weekend a wild success.

"The cool thing about our district and our track community, our teams really push each other and support each other when we’re down here," Dalton said. "It’s a really cool thing to be a part of."

Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.