The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Portales boys capture fourth in 4A track


May 13, 2018

Eric Murray

Portales' Julian Tellez crossed the line in 16.01, good for third in the 110 hurdles Saturday afternoon.

ALBUQUERQUE — Bittersweet might be the word — and the feeling, to describe the weekend's Class 4A state meet for the Portales Ram track team.

Hopes of a boys title quickly faded on the second day of the meet, while the promising relay teams didn't quite have the performances they needed.

As a result, the Rams finished just out of trophy contention, scoring 46 points. Taos, with 81 points, edged out Silver (75) while St. Michael's took the green trophy with 54 points.

And the coach is leaving, though he's not going far. Chris Bachicha announced he'd step down after just one year on the job, after accepting an assistant principal positions at Portales High School.

However, with that bittersweetness comes hope. Only three of the 23 athletes the Rams sent to Albuquerque were seniors, and one of the underclassmen, Aiden Cabeldue, brought home a 4A title in pole vault.

"I've always said from the beginning that if we P.R.'ed (set personal records) it was successful. A lot of our kids P.R.'ed this weekend," Bachicha explained. "We didn't end up where we thought we would — or hoped. But, we can still consider it a success."

As for Cabeldue, he entered the weekend No. 1 in the state in pole vault, and did not disappoint, as his 13-0 took the event, via tiebreak. Silver's Matt Kennedy also did 13-0, but Cabeldue claimed the title based off of more successful attempts.

For Cabeldue, the win is special because of his family bloodlines. His father placed second in the event many years back and still holds the school record, while his sister, Hannah, was a three-time champ.

"It is pretty cool," Aiden said, smiling. "(Hannah) was a state champion three years in arow. I wasn't able to get it last year, because I didn't come there mentally prepared. But this year I got it and hopefully next year I should. Live that legacy."

The boys 400 and 800 relay teams came into Saturday with high hopes, as the Rams tried to defend their 800 title from last year. Unfortunately, some mishaps on the relay hand-offs set the team back, as the 100 came in fourth.

Senior Andrew Villegas made up huge ground in the 200, but still lost out to St. Michael's by a tenth of a second (1:30.51 to 1:30.61).

The Rams were second after Friday and maintained a second or third position in the standings for a large portion of Saturday. However, a lack of distance events for Portales set the Rams back.

And while Bachicha was feeling emotional after Saturday's events had concluded, he took the setback in stride.

"It's always been one of our Achilles' heels, we don't have distance like everybody else does; hopefully by adding cross country next year, we'll be able to help that out a little bit," Bachicha explained. "These guys (from Taos and Silver) run up in the mountains and then they come down a little bit lower to this and it's a little easier for them to breathe down here."

Several individual performances helped the Rams to their fourth-place finish, as Julian Urioste came in third in the high jump, while Philip Blidi was third in discus and shot.

For Urioste, a third was great. Sort of.

"It felt good, but it kinda (didn't), because I lost to the same people that I did last year," Urioste said. "I was hoping I'd be able to pass them this year, but it didn't work out.

"They're both seniors, so they have a year advantage over me, and this year, I only jumped four times in meets, because I was injured."

Urioste battled hamstring injuries from the beginning of the season, but found a way to get healthy at the right time. For the girls, on the other hand, depth was more of a concern this year than health issues, which really plagued some of the top boys performers this year.

The girls 800 relay team had some hand-off issues like the boys, costing them a chance to score points. However, with the bad comes the good, as Jessie Campbell, the lone senior girl, came in second in both the high jump and javelin.

Eighth-grader Kylyie Paden continued to impress, after a tie for sixth-place in pole vault. Teammate Emily Christensen, meanwhile, recorded an identical 8-06 leap, but finished fifth in the jump-off.

What really impressed Bachicha about his girls, who finished 11th overall (12.5 points), however, was their dedication all year long.

"This was my first time coaching girls and it amazes me how precise they are," Bachicha said. "You tell them to fix something and they'll do it 100 times, and they'll ask you how to do it. It's pretty amazing, the work ethic."

Bachicha says he accepted the assistant principal job prior to last week's district meet, and he said he broke the news to his kids right there, before anyone else could.

While his new job has been a major goal of his for quite some time, it didn't make walking away from track easy.

"You grow up with these kids, you get these relationships, and it's hard, because you feel like you're leaving a whole bunch of stuff," Bachicha said. "It's human nature to bond with kids and bond with the other coaches; that's one of the aspects I'm gonna miss. I don't have any kids of my own, but it feels like I have a bunch of kids, and you kinda lose that a little bit now.

"The future looks bright. Whoever comes on in is gonna have a stacked team."


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