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With just two final regular-season meets separating them from the District 4-AAAAA competition May 5 in Roswell, the Artesia High School track and field teams are ready to take advantage of their lone home outing of the year.

The Bulldogs and Lady Bulldogs will kick (and throw and jump…) off the 2017 Artesia Invitational at 3 p.m. today at Bulldog Bowl and Morris Field, with a total of 12 teams in attendance.

Joining Artesia will be Class 6A Carlsbad and Hobbs, Class 5A Roswell High, Goddard, Lovington, St. Pius and Moriarty, Class 4A NMMI, Ruidoso and Portales, and Texas squad Friona High.

The ‘Dogs and Lady ‘Dogs will be coming off of first- and fourth-place finishes respectively last Thursday at the Ruidoso Invitational, a meet that was atypical for the Artesia athletes but still yielded positive results.

The Ruidoso Invite was called early due to a lack of lighting, preventing the running of the mile and mile relays. Artesia was also forced to bus students in two different shifts due to state testing, causing some participants to miss events.

But the teams still logged a total of six new state qualifications, including the Lady Bulldogs’ first qualified running event of the season.

Freshman Elliot Harrison delivered that with a second-place time of 16.75 in the 100-meter hurdles. Harrison also qualified for the first time in the high jump with a runner-up mark of 5’, as did junior Madilynn Moon in the pole vault with a third-place 8’6”.

Re-qualifying for the Artesia girls in the javelin was senior Shaylee Fuller with a third-place 110’1”.

On the boys’ side, contributing to the squad’s overall win out of a field of 12 teams were first-time qualifications by senior Marcus Bramwell in the discus (first, 133’4.5”), freshman Erik Cueto in the high jump (first, 6’), and senior Chandler Youtsey in the 300 hurdles (second, 41.75).

Sophomore Kale Mauritsen re-qualified in the 300 hurdles with a first-place 40.56, a season best. Season-best re-qualifications were also posted by Youtsey and senior Chase Thompson in the 110 hurdles (first, 15.58, and second, 15.60 respectively), and the 800-meter relay team with a 1:31.30, while junior Denver Williams and Mauritsen also re-qualified in the pole vault with marks of 12’ that tied them for second.

“There were a lot of strong individual performances at this meet,” said head coach Matt Conn. “It was an awkward day in that we took two different buses of kids at two different times to accommodate the students who had state testing. The seniors and freshmen went up together at the normal time, and the sophomore and juniors left about two hours later.

“Regardless, the ladies added several new qualifications and so did the men. The men dominated the meet. The ladies took fourth but showed great improvement in times and distances.”

Artesia was again close to the necessary standards in several other events and will be looking to add heavily to their state contingents today on their home turf.

“We’ve got a pretty big performance coming, because we have the whole team competing,” Conn said. “So there’ll be a lot more kids than normal, and we could see some solid performances out of our state qualifiers. They’ve been peaking in practice.”

Conn and his staff arrived at the Bowl Thursday to unpleasant circumstances, as power was out throughout the stadium. That threatened the use of Artesia’s automatic timing system, but Conn said Artesia Public Schools maintenance director Scott Simer and his crew worked into the evening to solve the problem.

“So thank God for them,” Conn said.

Following today’s action, the AHS track and field teams will head to Lovington April 28 for the Ross Black Relays before vying for district titles May 5 in Roswell. The Class 5A State Meet looms May 12-13 in Albuquerque.

“We’d really love the support of the community today,” Conn said. “They always back us. Especially with it being the night before the prom, I understand a lot of people want to stay home to get that done, but we hope everybody who can comes out, and we want to give a big thank-you to all the workers who helped the meet go off without any problems.”