By Kevin Wilson
The future looks pretty bright for the Portales boys track team. Meanwhile, the Portales girls team seems OK with the present.
Both teams have good numbers going into Friday’s meet at Carlsbad, with the boys team posting its highest participation in six seasons.
“Being excited about the numbers, I’m even more excited about the talent we have out here,” Portales boys coach Glen Johnson said.
The Rams have 28 on their roster, with sprinters making up much of the team. However, Johnson said that it’s a “work in progress” and some of the sprinters will convert to other events.
“We still have a long way to go,” Johnson said, “but for the first time in two years, we’ve got hurdlers.”
Sprinters like Bo Gabriel, Deonte Wyche and Jason Needham are giving their shot at the 110- and 300-meter hurdles, and Johnson felt it was easy to get back into the swing of coaching the event.
“It’s like (riding) a bicycle,” Johnson said. “Once you experience it, it’s easier to carry out.”
A lack of numbers was a problem that had plagued the girls team in years past, but coach Ruth Chavez feels the team has turned the corner.
“We’ve finally got some experience,” Chavez said. “They’ve been there and done that and that’s to our benefit.”
Senior Erika Cook will anchor a few of the relay teams and throw javelin, while Amy Truelock and Carey Smith will attempt the pole vault.
Chavez is also high on a pair of new additions — senior Suzanne Cox and freshman Stacy Hatten.
“She’s good,” Chavez said of Hatten. “We’re going to be able to use her in just about every event.”
Cox, meanwhile, is already hitting qualifying times in practice for the 100, 200 and 400 meters. Chavez doesn’t know for sure if Cox’s success will translate immediately, nor does she know what will unfold with 60 participants (25 high school, 35 junior high).
“There’s going to be tough competition for places,” Chavez said, “because there are a lot of kids and there are a lot of strong kids.”
The Carlsbad meet will be a testing ground for the teams, which are considering their qualifying goals in a long-term basis.
“Our goal is just for everybody to have a faster time than the last meet, no matter what we were running before,” assistant boys coach Rick Apodaca said. “We had Amador (Lujan) really surprise us last year, and we’re hoping that we have some more kids like that.”