La Cueva High School track and field coach Janessa Ruiz was giving a pep talk to the girls team pole vaulters as the wind blew across Albuquerque Academy during the Richard Harper Invitational on Friday. “The wind is a factor,” she said. “But it is a factor we can overcome.
“So, you guys, we’ve trained under conditions like this before,” Ruiz continued. “What we need to understand is that we got to take whatever opportunity we can find. So, when we pick those poles up, don’t look back, and when you feel that open pocket, that’s our one opportunity to do that. So take advantage of it and take that jump. Got it?”
La Cueva junior Jessica Tran took her coach’s words seriously to not only overcome the wind, but also a 9-foot-high bar she cleared with ease, qualifying her for the state championships. As soon as she picked herself up from the mat, Tran ran to her coach and gave her a hug.
“Everything my coach said was right,” Tran said afterward. “I just had to believe in myself.” When asked if she was ready to vault over a higher bar, Tran responded, “Absolutely. Nine-six. I’m getting it.”
Tran and fellow pole vaulter Robin Ruiz, Janessa’s daughter, were two of many athletes competing at Thursday’s meet. La Cueva long-distance runner Sam Loustaunau competed in the 3,200-meter race while his mom cheered him on. “He’s used to really, really long races,” Loustaunau’s mom said, adding that she was happy to just see him compete in a shorter race.
Other events on Friday included the shotput, javelin, high jump, triple jump, four by 100-meter relay, and the 800-meter run. Hurdles were postponed due to the high winds. The competition continues Saturday, April 23, at Albuquerque Academy.