Sports Editor’s Note: Roswell track preview will run in Saturday’s edition.
Chris Deck, Goddard girls track coach, is looking to leave a footprint at state this year with his girls’ team. The second-year coach has a lot to work with, with two all-state performers returning. Goddard’s team goals are lofty and achievable: Goddard’s first goal is to do well in district and to stand on the podium at state after barely missing out last year, as they finished in seventh place.
One of the reasons Deck looks to finish in the top six at state is because of reigning state champion Destiny Lawrence. Lawrence, who is the show for Goddard this season, has been undefeated for three years on the track team and will run the grueling events.
Lawrence will run the 100, 200 and 400 meters. Last season, she finished fifth in the long jump and with her extraordinary performance, led the team with 22 points. Today, Lawrence will race at her future track home, Eastern New Mexico University as Goddard runs in the George Love Relays.
“My goals for this season are to go out and do my best,” Lawrence said, “hopefully be a state champion in my events again. I can’t wait to run on Portales’ track and get a feel for the track that I will be running on in college. I’m so grateful for my coaches, teammates, family and all of the opportunities I’ve been given.”
Goddard’s other superheroine is Bailey Beene. Beene is coming into the season with one goal in mind: to reclaim the javelin title that she lost last year to New Mexico Gatorade Track Athlete of the Year, Haley Rizek. Rizek threw 134 feet and 6 inches last year to retake the crown from Beene, as Beene threw 128 feet and 2 inches. Beene had held the title since her freshman and sophomore year. Rizek would earn a scholarship to Penn University.
“Our goals with Destiny (Lawrence) and Bailey (Beene) (are) to break some state records,” Deck said. “We’ve been working on getting tuned up on techniques and those sort of things.”
Deck feels like the girls’ team has a chance to do well at state because the girls’ basketball team has come out adding more numbers as Deck will try to gain enough points to move up and be able to stand in sixth-place on the podium. Last year, the girls lost points in events because they didn’t have anyone to participate in events at state.
During the state meet last year, Lawrence picked up 22 points at state by winning the 100, 200 and 400 meters and finished fifth in the long jump. She was the high-point award winner of the state meet regardless of classification. She scored more points than any girl athlete at the state tournament last year.
With the addition of the new girls competing, Deck is looking to have Goddard place higher as a team in the state and with a few more points. Lawrence will continue to run the same events she did previously.
“We’re going for state records in the 100, 200 and 400 meters,” Deck said. “The 400 meters, I feel is Lawrence’s best chance for a state record. By far she is the best sprinter I have ever seen. I feel like Beene has a chance to break the state record of 141 feet and 6 inches. We’re going to aim high with those two kids.”
Beene has thrown 132 feet and 10 inches this year and is ranked No. 1 in the state but has thrown a career best of 135 feet and 6 inches last season. Beene has a showdown coming up on April 22 at the Marilyn Sepulveda in Albuquerque, with her closest competition in Silver City’s Mariah Humphrey.
“My goal for the season,” Beene said, “is to break the state record in the javelin. My best couple of throws are only 6 feet away from the record. It’s going to be a huge challenge, but I’m excited to go for it. There’s great competition around the state — Silver City has a great javelin thrower and Artesia always has a lot of good throwers, too. It’s going to be a fun battle at state.”
Humphrey has thrown the javelin 132 feet this season, as well. These two have not competed against each other because of classification, according to Deck. The Sepulveda is all classes and the top eight in the state are invited to compete against each other regardless of classification.
Deck feels like the biggest difference for Beene this season has been her commitment to the weight room. She will go lift after school and then throw at practice. For Lawrence, the key to her success has been that she trains hard in the 400 meters and has an unbelievable work ethic. Lawrence has improved on her sprint endurance and trains really hard in the 400 meters — the toughest event in all of track.
Lawrence’s training consists of fly-drills, (Sprint endurance) Deck says Lawrence’s starts are no problem, as he tries to get her to maintain the acceleration phase and to run faster longer — that hasn’t been a problem. Now during their training together, Deck is trying to get her to run faster for longer and to be stronger during the last 100 meters of the 400 meter. Lawrence’s times are: in the 100 meter, 12.23; in the 200 meter, 25.6; and the 400 meter, 57.89.
“The 400 is the toughest race in the world,” Deck said. “It’s a sprint that runners go through mentally, physically and challenges a runner to push through to win. This race takes a lot of heart.”
On the boys’ side of things, Deck will have a younger boys team after heavy losses due to graduation. Deck has been surprised by Brian Benge, a freshman pole vaulter. He is the first pole vaulter Deck has coached in his two years as head coach at Goddard. Connor Downs qualified for state on Monday at the Roswell City Meet in the pole vault.
“My goals for this year are to compete with everything I have,” Downs said. “Hopefully, I will be on the podium at UNM at the end of the season.”
Senior Cael Alderete, a four-year track guy, is close to qualifying for state in the 110 hurdles — his best time is 16.35 and 16.2 is qualifying. Goddard fans and his teammates are pulling for him to qualify. Alderete also runs the 300 meters and has clocked a time of 43.0 with qualifying at 41.9. He is one of the leaders of the Goddard boys track team. Speedster Nate Stone is a 400-meter runner and is close to qualifying for state, as well.
“For my season goal,” Alderete said, “I want to enjoy my senior year with my teammates, fellow seniors and go to state in hurdles and triple jump. My thoughts on hurdles are very positive. I love racing hurdles and the competition that comes with it. I’m so grateful for my coaches to have been able to teach me how to better myself as an athlete. It has been a great experience and I’m going to miss it when I’m done.”
Goddard runs today at 3 p.m., in Portales along with Roswell in the George Love Relays.