ALBUQUERQUE — The 400 isn’t Tara DeWitt’s favorite race, and it showed two-thirds of the way through as the Clovis junior trailed three other 5A runners.
She could have given up and saved energy for later events. Her team didn’t need the points, and she wasn't expected to do much in the event anyway.
But a medal was up for grabs, so she pushed her way to the front for the upset win.
As she collected seven points that were academic a few hours later, she became one more piece of evidence that if the rest of 5A wouldn’t push Clovis, the Lady Wildcats would just do it themselves.
Clovis left no doubt on its second-straight Class 5A trophy and third in four years, dominating on the track to complement a strong Friday in the field for an 87-point weekend and the 11th state title in school history.
Tying Clayton for most all-time track titles was one of many motivations for Clovis, coach Darrel Ray said.
“We also had a goal that we wanted to win all four relays,” Ray said, “because we felt like we could do that.”
Last season, Clovis needed 1,600 relay anchor Caitlin Waters to finish in fourth, ahead of Cibola, to eke out a one-point victory for the team title. This season, Waters cruised to the finish line five seconds ahead of the pack to put the finishing touches on a 32 1/2-point victory and a 4-for-4 relay effort.
“I’m still shocked,” said senior Lainey Flatow, who took fourth in the long jump Friday and was a driving force on Clovis’ relay wins. “Coming in, we were worried about Rio Rancho, and then we came out with that many points.”
Rio Rancho ended up third with 42 1/2 points, 10 behind second-place Eldorado. Twelve other teams reached double figures, led by Los Lunas (42), Cibola (37) and Mayfield (31).
Ray said DeWitt’s best event was the 200, but she was placed in the 400 because that was a softer spot on the roster. DeWitt pushed to the victory anyway
“I wanted a gold medal,” she said, “and I wanted to show everybody that you can be ranked seventh and still do pretty good.”
Clovis put up 24 points on Friday, and tacked on a few more field points Saturday with Anteisha Brown’s second-place finish in triple jump and freshman Kalana Brown’s third-place effort in javelin.
A three-peat wouldn’t be impossible, Ray said, but losing Flatow, Waters, Janeesha Pleasant and discus winner Meagan Baglein won’t make things easy.
“We’ve got some good young kids coming up,” Ray said, “but (it always hurts) to lose four seniors like those who have been this good.”