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Above and below, Eliazar Granillo, left, and Michaela Phipps compete in the early distance races at the District 4-AAAAA Meet Friday at Bulldog Bowl. (Brienne Green – Daily Press)

The Artesia High School track and field teams ended the 2018 regular season on a high note Friday at Bulldog Bowl and Morris Field, dominating the District 4-AAAAA Meet and walking away with a pair of district crowns.

The Lady Bulldogs bested their closest competition – Roswell High – by 57 points, while the Bulldogs came out 29 points ahead of the Coyotes on an evening that saw Artesia’s track squads log 20 state qualifications by mark and 16 more by place while posting 12 combined individual district championships.

“Our kids perform well at home,” head coach Matt Conn understated Saturday. “As a staff, we were pleased with how our kids competed. They did what it took to win district.”

As is always the case at district track meets, where athletes are able to qualify for state not only by mark but by finishing in the top two in any event, Artesia bolstered its Class 5A State Meet contingents Friday, giving themselves a healthy amount of entries in this week’s 5A events.

“We have some great days ahead of us,” said Conn. “Our girls got several new qualifiers by place at district, as well as a few qualifications by mark. The girls also got all four relays in.
“Our boys added qualifications in areas needed to be a podium candidate.”

The ‘Dogs came out on top of the field in nine different events Friday, with a whopping four district titles alone earned by Kale Mauritsen in the 110 hurdles (15.16), 300 hurdles (38.70), pole vault (12’6”) and 200-meter dash (22.47).

The boys’ 800 (1:31.82) and 400 (44.08) relay teams also won district, as did Joe Willingham in the triple jump (41’10.5”), Eric Cueto in the long jump (20’3.5”), and Andrew Veloz in the discus (136’5”).

The Lady Bulldogs’ 1600-meter relay team came out on top with a time of 4:15.49, along with Sadi Butler in the 100 hurdles (16.05) and Zailor Lopez in the pole vault (9’6”).

Also qualifying for state by mark at Friday’s meet were Willingham in the 110 hurdles (third, 15.92), Elliot Harrison in the 100 hurdles (second, 16.85), Paityn Houghtaling, Honesty Segura and RyLeigh Greer in the javelin (second, third and fourth, 123’3”, 114’4” and 110’8”), Stacia Martinez in the triple jump (second, 34’1.5”), Nevaeh Hernandez in the shot put (second, 33’11.25”), Cueto in the high jump (6’), Kristin Bruton in the pole vault (9’), and Carson Anderson and Wesley Knowlton in the pole vault (second and third, 12’ and 12’).

With a regular-season’s worth of hard work now behind them, the Artesia tracksters will turn their attention to the swiftly approaching state meet, set for Friday and Saturday at the Great Friends of UNM Track and Field Complex in Albuquerque.

There, Conn hopes to see both of his squads put themselves in position to make a podium run.

“As a whole, our teams have consistently outperformed other 5A schools in the area,” said the coach. “It’s nice knowing our teams’ strengths going into state.

“As for state, we will try to get as many people to Day Two in the running events and try to perform in areas we aren’t necessarily slated for. I’m excited for both our boys and girls to get to compete on such a large stage.”