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Local track and field athletes make most of state-qualifying attempts
Stephanie Ledgerwood and Roderick Ford were more than happy to finish first in their respective events during Saturday's State Farm Cibola Scorcher Invitational at the Pete Peterson Track.
But for the Kofa and Yuma Catholic athletes, Saturday was less about finishing first and more about posting a state-qualifying number.
In college basketball terms, the meet was their big chance to punch their ticket to the Big Dance.
A number of track and field athletes from the Yuma area's seven local high school teams assured themselves a spot at their respective state tournaments in May, some doing so without scoring the day's top mark or time. For the rest, reaching state may only be possible with an individual regional championship.
Ledgerwood won the 1,600-meter run in 5 minutes, 27.16 seconds, 2.6 seconds below the state qualifying standard time for 5A-II girls.
"I felt pretty good today. I wanted to qualify at least for the mile, so I was focused on that," she said. "Our 4x800 team all hit our splits too, and that basically set the mood for the rest of the day for all of us."
Ford qualified for two events, besting the state qualifying time of 23.91 seconds for the 200-meter dash, then clearing 5 feet, 10 inches in the high jump to hit the qualifying mark right on the nose.
"That was the best I've felt, especially since I had to run the 200 first," Ford said of his jumping event. "You take it more seriously today because if you do well now you don't have to worry about it later on, and when there's a lot of local schools it's fun to have bragging rights."
Among the others who are bound for the state tournament in field events were Yuma triple jumpers J.C. Baker and Keshia Merritt. Baker flew 42 feet, 6.5 inches, while Merritt's mark of 31-10 beat the qualifying standard for girls by a quarter of an inch. Kofa's Amanda Nieves (36-5) qualified in the shot put, as did San Pasqual's Virginia Montague (27-08), who also met the 1A standard for the discus (83-10). Anthony Daniels represented the Warrior boys in the discus with a state-qualifying throw of 137-06, and Yuma Catholic's Paul Corona's pole vault of 12-06 easily put him into the 2A state competition.
Complete team and individual results were not available following Saturday's Invitational.
Ford said competing with a crowd of cheering Shamrock fans in the stands also helped fuel his competitive drive, while Ledgerwood said the biggest impact of being home for a big meet came the night before.
"It's always nice to sleep in your own bed," she said. "I think we were all more relaxed because we didn't have to get off our normal schedules or get on a bus and worry about what's going on Friday night."
Despite the early season timing of the meet, both athletes said they've stuck to the schedules they've set in previous track seasons in the hopes of peaking at their region and state tournaments.
"We haven't done too much speed work and focused instead on getting more endurance, but I know it's coming," Ledgerwood said. "My goal is to win state at least in the two mile, so I have to keep pushing."
Rob Weiler can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6883.