Magdalena track stars soar


Magdalena High School’s Barak Stephens earned the boys’ individual high-point honor, and Mag’s Lady Steers were the overall team runners-up at the District 8-2A Track and Field Meet held in the Torrance County seat on May 3.

Harold Smith/For El Defensor Chieftain: Magdalena High sophomore Abby Bullock surges across the finish line as the anchor of the winning girls’ 800-meter relay during the District 8-2A Track and Field Meet at Estancia on Friday, May 3. She and her fellow Lady Steers clocked the race in 1 minute, 52 seconds.

“I had my top boy qualify for state in all five events he competed in, and he got his PR (personal record) in the 200(-meter dash). He’s just a sophomore,” Steers coach Jory Mirabal said of Stephens. “And we took first and second in the pole vault. It was exciting.”

Stephens, who amassed a total of 26 points all by himself, won the 200 in a speedy 22.72 seconds. He was the silver medalist in the 100 dash (11.52), 400 dash (52.90) and long jump (19 feet, 6 3/4 inches), and he finished third in the triple jump (39-2 1/2).

Others who placed in the top three for Magdalena included Cy Kellis (pole vault, first, 9-6), Mike Chambers (pole vault, second, 9-6), and Kolt Henderson (110 and 300 hurdles, third in both, 19.93 and 46.85). The Steers placed third overall with 64 points.

The host Estancia Bears won the seven-team competition with 154 points. Laguna-Acoma was second with 134.

The victory gave Estancia High School its first district boys title since the Bears won district in track and baseball in 2011.

“This was our goal all year, to win district,” Estancia first-year boys track coach Stewart Burnett said. “We might have done some other things during the meet to qualify more for state, but we focused on winning district. It’s been two years since the Estancia boys had won a district title in any sport, so this is big for us.”

Mirabal said Kelly Kern, a Magdalena science teacher and track and field assistant coach, has been an asset for Mag’s teams. She is passing on her knowledge to her prep alma mater’s girls and boys pole vaulters.

Kern, competing under her maiden name of Armstrong, was the state Class 1A pole-vault champion in 2003 and 2004. She cleared the bar at 9 feet, a state record at the time.

“She’s helped a lot,” Mirabal said.

Magdalena girls coach Corine Madril echoed Mirabal’s sentiments in a separate interview.

“Our highlight was our pole vaulters,” Madril said.

The Lady Steers’ coach said Aubri Zamora (second, 7-6) qualified for state in the pole vault under Kern’s mentorship.

However, in order to score 105 points and place second as a team, Madril’s athletes got production from other sources, too. Gabbie Apachito garnered the gold medal in the 100 with a time of 13.37.

The Lady Steers also did well in the relays, placing first in the 4×100 (52.74) and 4×200 (1 minute, 52 seconds).

Magdalena’s Abby Bullock anchored the winning 800 relay. Her relay teammates included Zamora, Apachito and Kadie Kiehne.

“We thought Bosque (School) might beat us,” said Bullock, a 5-foot sophomore. “But as it turned out, we smoked them.”

The Lady Steers’ 400 relay quartet also comprised Zamora, Apachito, Kiehne and Bullock.

Estancia was the girls’ overall team champion. It beat Mag by 19 points for the Bears’ fifth district title in six years under coach Laci Lockwood.

“I knew we had a well-rounded team,” Lockwood said. “We had it covered from the 200 to the 2-mile, to the hurdles and the field events.”

Other top performances for the Lady Steers included Apachito (200, second, 27.25), Tristen Dunlap (100 hurdles, second, 18.94), Jaydin Stephens (300 hurdles, second, 54.28), Kiehne (long jump, second, 15-2 1/4), Bullock (triple jump, second, 30-10 1/2), Ashley Tafoya (300 hurdles, third, 55.60), Juli Zamora (shot put, third, 25-9), and Danielle Gordon (javelin, third, 86-4; and pole vault, third, 7 feet).

Magdalena also was the runner-up in the 1,600 medley and 4×400 relays with respective clockings of 5:00.65 and 4:56.28.

Madril said she has seven girls qualified for state in multiple events. They include Aubri Zamora (pole vault, 4×100 and 4×200), Apachito (100, 200, 4×100 and 4×200), Kiehne (long jump, 4×100 and 4×200), Bullock (triple jump, 4×100 and 4×200), Stephens (triple jump and 300 hurdles), Dunlap (100 hurdles) and Gordon (pole vault).

The state Class 2A championships is scheduled for Friday and Saturday at the University of New Mexico’s track and soccer facility, which is east of University Stadium near the southeast corner of University Boulevard and Avenida César Chávez in Albuquerque.

On Friday, field events start at 9 a.m., and running events begin at 1 p.m. The first day will conclude about 8:10 p.m.

Saturday’s all-finals schedule commences with field events at 10 a.m. and running at 2 p.m. The meet will continue until approximately 7 p.m. when the trophy presentations are set to start.