Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Missouri sprinters show the way in Great Southwest track event

Los Alamos’ Kyle Hatler attempts to get over the bar Saturday in the pole vault at the Great Southwest Track and Field Classic. He finished 10th in the event at UNM. (Chancey Bush/)

Among the themes coursing through the Great Southwest Track and Field Classic on Saturday at the University of New Mexico complex was this obvious one:

The kids from the Show Me State put on a delightful show, all right.

“Missouri? We got some big dogs in Missouri,” Kansas City’s Zaya Akins said with a smile. “Y’all can’t sleep on Missouri.”

They were certainly getting down the track at UNM quickly on Saturday.

Akins, who will be a senior next season, swept the elite divisions of the girls’ 100- and 200-meter finals, in 11.50 seconds and 23.39 seconds, respectively, on what proved to be a perfectly glorious late afternoon and early evening of weather at UNM, where the sun didn’t show itself for hours on end.

Akins’ Missouri compatriot from the eastern half of the state, Issam Asinga of St. Louis, was equally impressive as he raced to victories in the same two sprints. He earned some well-reserved crowd buzz following his showing in the 200, where he broke the 21-second barrier and set a personal record in 20.76 seconds. He ran 10.44 in the 100.

Cleveland High rising senior Leah Futey produced arguably the best day of any New Mexico athlete on Saturday, and it was, Storm coach Kenny Henry said, by all accounts the best single day Futey had ever had on a track.

Futey, a state champion in cross country and track, established a personal record in the 1-mile (a shade longer than a 1,600, which is about 20 feet shorter) final, placing fourth in a time of 5:05.67.

Less than three hours later, in the early evening, Futey returned and finished second in the 3,200 at 11:14.99, about seven seconds behind Utah’s Natalie Swain. Futey won state in Class 5A at both distances at this same venue last month.

Albuquerque Academy’s Joaquin Deprez, who is headed to Dartmouth of the Ivy League to run track, was well positioned to win the 800-meter final. He gained separation after the first lap, and had a comfortable lead even with 200 meters to go. But Utah’s William Spence ran Deprez down the stretch. Still, Deprez’s showing was excellent, and his time of 1:54.45 was a PR for the Charger graduate.

“We went out a little slowly, and I was trying to pick it up here (the start/finish line) so we could salvage the time,” Deprez said. “He got me in the last 50. … When you’re out there, you’re just trying to go as fast as you can, but you’re hurting. And I was having trouble hitting that next gear.”

Distance runners from Utah and Colorado frequently attend the Great Southwest and shine, and Saturday was no different.

Consider the boys’ 3,200-meter final, where recent graduate Bahozhoni Church of Albuquerque High — New Mexico’s Class 5A state champ at this distance — finished seventh.

The top six runners were all from Utah.

Other finishes of note for some top New Mexico athletes on Saturday:

• Eldorado’s Gabriel Ball, the 5A state high jump champion, finished sixth;

• Los Alamos state champ Kyle Hatler was 10th in the pole vault;

• Rio Rancho’s Sterling Glenn, who won state in 5A, finished second in the girls’ shot put;

• Portales’ Kylyie Paden, a 4A state champion, placed ninth in the girls’ pole vault;

• Tanner Montaño was second in the long jump with a mark over 23 feet;

• Girls javelin proved to be a strong event, with Organ Mountain’s Shaolin Munir (the 5A state champ) fourth, Kennedy Ulmer of Cleveland sixth and Meadow Storms of Valencia seventh;

• Steven West of Sandia was third and Eldorado’s Naseem Dhaouadi sixth in the boys’ 1-mile;

• Tyson Hobbs of Organ Mountain was runner-up in the triple jump with Taos’s Marcus Trujillo sixth.

• Cibola’s Reuben Johnson was seventh in the shot put;

• Anna Wetteland of Los Alamos was sixth in the 400.

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