Cesar Pavia crosses the finish line first in the 4X400 meter relay at the Regional Track Meet in Liberal Friday. The team beat their best time by two seconds. L&T photo/Earl Watt


    • Leader & Times


The Liberal Redskins and Lady Redskins swept the 4X800 meter relays and qualified multiple athletes to the Class 6A State Track Meet.

The Redskins finished third as a team, and the Lady Redskins finished fifth.

Ivan Moreno (151 feet, 0 inches), Ayden Juarez (144 feet, 10 inches), and Xavier Tafoya (142 feet, 8 inches) swept the top three spots in the javelin to qualify for State.

Shamari Lewis finished third in the triple jump with a distance of 34 feet, 3.25 inches. She also qualified in the long jump with a fourth place finish with a distance of 17 feet, 0 inches.

The women’s 4x800 meter relay team of Fitzgerald, Rubi Alvarez, Jenny Casas and Janaya Devorce won the Regional gold with a time of 10:18.33.

The boys 4x800 meter relay team of Alex Koerner, Pavia, Foster and Beto Torres also took gold in a time of 8:11.86.

Cerda and Devorce also qualified for state in the mile by finishing second and third respectively with times of 5:32.16 and 5:53.77.

Fitzgerald finished fourth in the girls 400 meter relay in a time of 1:00.54 to qualify for State.

Edgar Alvarado also took fourth in the boys 400 meter run and qualified for State with a time of 51.52 seconds.

Cerda will also run the 800 meter run at State after finishing third at Regionals with a time of 2:30.49.

Pavia and Foster finished first and second respectively in the boys 800 meter run with times of 1:58.68 and 1:59.92.

The girls 4x400 meter relay team of Bentley Fitzgerald, Paris Bond, Daniela Cerda and Hannah McCarter qualified for state with a fourth place finish in a time of 4:15.70.

The boys 4X400 meter team of Edgar Alvarado, MJ Foster, Zayden Martinez and Cesar Pavia won the regional gold and qualified for State with a time of 3:22.59.

“I’m very proud of our kids whether they qualified or not,” Liberal coach Trace Haskell said. “They did the best they could. I couldn’t ask for any more effort. The sad thing is some qualify for State, some don’t. That’s what we try to get them to understand the whole season. If you get better the numbers take care of themselves. Usually the younger kids have a chance to come back and remedy for next year.”

Not only will athletes get a chance to compete for state honors this year, but Haskell said the experience for the younger athletes can pay off in the future.

“In relays, we take a lot of kids to State,” he said. “The state track meet in Kansas is second to none. I think Zayden (Martinez) going to State last year in the high jump was an example of getting that experience. Without Zayden in the 4x400, we don’t win that last race. It was huge.”

Liberal track fans are familiar with the fourth corner of the 4x400 meter relay. That’s where the team gathers to urge on the anchor for the final straightaway, and Liberal had strong finishes in the relay event.

“We sometimes have to get on the kids for not getting to the corner,” Haskell said. “The history of our program, as far as the four by four, I lose sleep and worry about what’s going to happen. These kids step up and make coaching worthwhile. It’s not the program, it’s about the kids and the hard work they put in. It’s nice to see it pay off.”

Liberal’s state qualifiers were also impressive to Haskell.

“Team-wise, I didn’t expect to get third,” he said. “We overachieved. Teams come together fast in some years, and sometimes it takes a while. We came together al little bit later. Our javelin finishing one, two, three, that boosted us point-wise. Edgar in the 400 qualified. It’s my race. I like to coach it. It’s evident in the four by four. I’m proud of him and a lot of the girls. We have some nagging injuries, but the potential is there. As tough as this regional was, the way we came together to finish strong, it’s great.”

Now it’s off to State.

“I haven’t looked at the Kansas City schools,” Haskell said. “They are usually very good. If we want to be State champions in the four by four, we will have to PR again. Friday you try to qualify and then try to win it Saturday We might not have the horses of Liberal’s teams in the past, but we have chances to get on the podium.”

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