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Coombs goes the distance -- three times -- in starring role at the Great Southwest

Jun. 8—It's demanding enough for a prep distance runner to sweep an 800-meter final, a 1,600 and a 3,200 during the course of a two-day track and field meet.

Corbin Coombs of Las Cruces accomplished the trifecta in a single day.

Actually, it was even more impressive than that. The Organ Mountain star won the three distances in a span of about 2 1/2 hours Saturday at the Great Southwest Track and Field Classic.

Coombs, who just completed his junior season and who won two of those distances at the Class 5A state meet last month, opened his Saturday at the University of New Mexico Complex with a victory in the mile (it was not called a 1,600, which is the New Mexico state meet distance).

That was 5:40 p.m. Saturday. His time was 4 minutes, 18.21 seconds.

At 7:15, he was back. He took down the field in the 800 (1:52.40, or a second-and-a-half faster than the time that won him the Class 5A meet last month).

At 8:05 Saturday night, bolstered by a superb final lap, he captured the 3,200-meter title.

He was undoubtedly the New Mexico superstar at the Great Southwest, the annual three-day meet that closed Saturday.

"It's kind of surreal," Coombs said of the distance sweep. "I'm just so happy and grateful for it to happen."

Was Coombs running on fumes at the end of the 3,200? It would have been understandable if he was. But that hardly seemed to be the case. He looked rather fresh, truth be told.

Coombs closed with a blistering 61-second mark in the eighth and final lap on a perfect night to run at UNM. His time was 9:29.20, or about 11 seconds slower than he ran at state. But of course, at state, he wasn't packing three races into such a condensed time period.

"I couldn't tell you how much gas I have left in the tank," said Coombs, who also ran a leg of the 4x800-meter relay on Friday night. "I was just going out there and giving it my all and when it comes down to the last lap, that's just when I try to really want it."

The 100-meter elite champions this year were Celeste Robinson of Texas (11.36 seconds) and Jayden Finley of Fort Worth (a brisk, but slightly wind-aided, 10.11). Robinson later added a win in the elite 200.

Daniel Kim of Los Alamos ran a terrific race in the 300-meter intermediate hurdles final. And he was leading down the stretch — until the wire, when Missouri's Asher Buggs-Tipton inched him out. Buggs-Tipton finished in 38.08 seconds, Kim was next at 38.13. Socorro's Braden Mounyo, a multiple state hurdles champion, was third (38.34).

Rio Rancho's Charlie Vause was third in the 800 Saturday.

In the field events, Cleveland's Jaylee Gandert was the runner-up in the javelin Saturday, with a throw of 140 feet, 10 inches, a personal record for her. Los Alamos' Colette Bibeault placed second (12-5 1/2 ) in the pole vault.

La Cueva's Grant Vlaun, the 5A New Mexico state champion in the pole vault, was second Saturday at the Great Southwest after clearing 14 feet, 11 inches.

FRIDAY NIGHT: New Mexico's 4-800-meter relay team and Utah had a thrilling battle in the late evening.

The New Mexico squad, which included the top two boys distance racers in the state, Coombs and Vause, finished in 7 minutes, 44.22 seconds. Utah's quartet finished just ahead of them, in 7:43.26.

... Arizona's Vance Nilsson of Gilbert, who is signed with the University of Florida, broke a meet record on Friday night in the 400-meter hurdles, winning in 50.46 seconds. But he wasn't yet sure, he said Saturday, if his mark was good enough to get him invited to the U.S. Olympic Trials later this month.

... Anna Hastings of Albuquerque Academy placed third in the 2,000-meter steeplechase. She was fourth Saturday in the mile run.

... Jeron Wisner of Organ Mountain was third in the boys 2,000 steeplechase. He also ran a leg in the 4x800 relay.

Journal Staff Writer Austin Curtis contributed to this story.