T-birds relay team shooting for record: Heath earns state berth in three events; Cabanillas, Lozoya will be competing in two competitions

May 4, 2019

BULLHEAD CITY — The Mohave High School 4x100-meter boys relay team will be shooting for the stars, and Lady T-birds freshman Alyssa Heath is set to compete in three events at the 2019 Division III Arizona State Track and Field Championship today and Saturday.

Heath will be running in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter dashes, and junior Nick Cabanillas, senior Seth Perez-Velasco and juniors Andrew Graham and Jaime Lozoya will do likewise in the 4x400 relay at Mesa Community College.

The Mohave freshman is seeded No. 24 in the 100, No. 24 in the 200 and No. 18 in the 400.

Cabanillas also will be competing as a No. 22 seed in the 400 and Lozoya is No. 23 in the 800 during the boys individual competition.

“Initially, when we started running, I thought Alyssa’s best event was going to be her 200,” Mohave head coach Sarah Hamilton said. “She did really well in the 1(00) and the 4(00), but then suddenly, she dropped two seconds on her 400 and she ran a 1 minute, 2 seconds.

“And after that, she had excelled in the 400 and she was doing well and that became her best event.

“So, we shall see.”

Heath is humble about earning state berths in three events, and her head coach has been trying to explain to her the signifigance of a freshman rising to such heights.

Heath said she did not really think she would earn three state berths at the beginning of the season.

“I thought I wasn’t going to be as good as I did,” Heath said.

She said there was a lot more competition than she was used to when she began her T-birds’ career.

“I have a lot more confidence and I’m really excited to go,” said Heath when asked if she has more pep in her step, now. “I just hope I do good.”

While Heath is understating her accomplishments, her head coach is putting it into perspective for her freshman sprinter.

“It’s a big deal, and we kind of explained that to her yesterday,” Hamilton said. “As a freshman, it will be a really cool experience for her to be at state and see exactly ... and to be competing against the best in the state.”

Hamilton said she juggled her 4x400 squad at about the midway point of the season.

“For one meet, I decided to put Andrew Graham in there and he excelled,” said the two-year Mohave track and field head coach. “He actually, from their very first race together to their very last one, before state, they dropped 16 seconds, which put them at sixth — they’re ranked sixth.”

The T-birds’ quartet will enter its race as a No. 6 seed and last season’s relay squad entered state as a No. 17.

Hamilton said the quartet’s time was 3:46 when Graham joined the unit with Mohave competing in its seventh meet this season.

“Every time they’ve run together, they’ve improved their time,” Hamilton said.

Lozoya is a co-caption of the Mohave squad and he competed at the state meet a season ago.

“At the last Seton meet, I was pretty tired from my previous race, so I was not as hyped as I usually am for it for the last leg, so when (Graham) came around and finished the second leg and coach yelled his time, ‘53.9,’ and that was his PR by like a second and a half,” Lozoya said. “Which means if we go as fast as we can, we’re going to PR by a lot.

“We were really hyped because it’s really hard to break 55 for some reason — it’s just a hard thing to do. Then he did, and it was really exciting.”

Co-captain Perez-Velasco, who also competed in the 4x400 at state last season, said that Graham’s addition worked well because the rest of the unit adjusted to the newcomer quickly.

“Last year, we hit a 3:33 at state,” Perez-Velasco said. “This year, we’re going into state at a 3:30 — three seconds faster.

“Both teams were phenomenal, just different chemistry with each year and depending on how each runner practices throughout the offseason.

“This year, I’d say is the best year.”

Graham and Lozoya were not on last season’s state-qualifying relay team, as Lozoya was an alternate a year ago.

Lozoya, who Hamilton desribed as “very dedicated and a hard worker,” is the 4x400’s anchor.

“They’re gunning to break the school record; that’s what their goal is,” Hamilton said.

Perez-Velasco said the school record is 3:23, which would improve this season’s record by at least seven seconds.

“If they were to break the school record,” Hamilton said, “they’d probably place first or second. The top time is 3:24.”