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Muleshoe's Withrow, Bovina's Ortiz earn runnerup finishes

AUSTIN, Texas — Muleshoe junior Jessica Withrow wasn’t able to defend her Class 3A girls state high jump championship over the weekend, but she did pick up a pair of second-place finishes for the Lady Mules in competition at the University of Texas.

Withrow went 5-8 in high jump on Friday to finish behind Celina’s Becky Christensen, who cleared 5-9. Ironically, last year Withrow won the event at 5-7 and Christensen placed second at 5-5.

On Saturday, Withrow earned a second runnerup finish in the 300 hurdles with a time of 44.47. La Vernia’s Tamara Koepp took the goal medal in a time of 44.32.

Withrow improved on her second-place state time from a year ago, when she ran 45.05.

Muleshoe’s other entries in girls competition each finished eighth — senior Sara Benham in triple jump (34-9) and junior Ashley Gutierrez in the 800 (2:23.22).

Withrow’s 16 points placed the Lady Mules in a three-way tie for 11th in team standings. Kennedale won the championship by a comfortable margin with 48 points.

In Class 1A boys competition, Bovina junior Edgar Ortiz ran what was easily a personal-best of 10:03.70 on Friday morning to place second in the 3,200. The winner was Steven Barraza of Sands, whose time was 10:00.05.

On Saturday afternoon, though, Ortiz faded late in the midday heat and finished eighth in the 1,600 in a time of 4:52.48. That wasn’t far off his previous best, set two weeks earlier in a winning regional performance of 4:48.

“The heat got to him in the mile, and that’s what I was afraid of,” Mustangs coach Tony Epps said. “He just doesn’t run as well when it’s hot.”

By contrast, Epps said Friday’s weather — cool with a light breeze — was ideal for Ortiz, who has chopped about 14 seconds off his PR in the 3,200 in each the last two meets.

“He could kick himself because he felt like he should’ve won it,” Epps said. “But it’s good motivation for him for next year.”

With eight points, Bovina finished in a five-way tie for 22nd place in team standings. Mertzon-based Irion County took the boys championship, finishing with 56 points.

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