By Don EskinsWhile Covid-19 may have put the brakes on the Carlsbad High School track program Caveman head coach Kent Hitchens has been anything but idle.Hitchens, who took over the reins of the program last year but hasn’tbeen able to compete yet due to Covid-19, has been spending much of his time gathering CHS track records in an effort to save the history of the sport he so passionately loves.His findings have been bound together in a book he simply calls, ‘A History of Carlsbad High School Track and Field’. The book, which covers Cavemen efforts from 1924 to 2020 and Cavegirl accomplishments from 1975 to 2020, contains 73 pages of Carlsbad High School records, history and trivia. Also included are 14 additional pages of expanded performance coverage.The project, understandably, has occupied much of the coach’s time for the past six months.“It took me about 250 hours of reading back issues of the Current-Argus, going through the NMAA Web Site and interviewing a few old timers,” said Hitchens. “But since I’m the last ‘track junkie’ on the coaching staff I didn’t want the history of the CHS track program to get lost.”Hitchens compilation of track and field facts is really an amazing piece of work. Not only does it reflect outstanding performances over the past 96 years it also brings to life an unbelievable number of former Cavemen and Cavegirl athletes, many who have been forgotten, who once tooled their talents on a Carlsbad High School track.But there’s more. Looking through Hitchens book, for most, will no doubt bring back fond memories of many of the CHS athletes they find within its covers.“I’m still tweaking it a bit with a few corrections and I plan to keep updating it as we move on,” said Hitchens. “Whenit’s time for me to step down from the program I hope whoever follows me will do the same. These kids have all made such an impact in our track program and their efforts deserve to be remembered. They’re part of our history here at CHS.”Exerts from Hitch’s bookThe Cavegirl track program has produced four collegiate All-Americans. They are: Robin Janway-Spay (1989-Garden City Jr. College-800 meter relay), Misty Ballard-Swan (2001 & 2002-Stephen F. Austin University-Pole Vault), Michaela Johnson (2013 South Plains Jr. College-Distance Medley Relay) and Sarah Peterson (2013-South Plains Jr. College-800 meter relay).Caveman John Nance, from 1997 to 2000, collected seventeen career medals at state tournament meets. However, as impressive as his effort was, he ranks second on the all-time list of most career medals won at a state meet.Sitting on top of that list is Homer Allen, who from 1928 to 1931, collected 18. In 1930 and 1931 Allen led the Cavemen to state titles under legendary coach George ‘Blanco’ White who also won state championships in 1932 and 1933. White’s four state championships ranks him first among CHS coaches who have piloted the Cavemen to state titles. Only two other Cavemen coaches have managed to do so, Ralph Boyer in 1947 & 1949 and Bobby Porter in 1978 & 1980.The Cavegirl’s top five 1600 meter runners of all time are: 1. Brandy Castillo (2006-5:10.54) 2. Brittany Castillo (2006-5:12.90) 3. JoJo Calderon (2003-5:19.34) 4. Mindy Clark (1993-5:23.54) and 5. Michaela Johnson (2011-5:23.84)The Cavemen’s top five Shot Puters of all time are: 1. Kelly Wilson (1978-55’ 3”) 2. Dan Smith (1963-54’ 4 1/4”) 3. Dennis Ingram (1972-54’ 3/4”) 4. Maury Legg (1980-53’ 11”) and 5. Kenny Ross (1968-53’ 9”).There are many, many, many more names and accomplishments in Hitchens book. The way they wereNot so long ago local sports fans could always count on Current Argus sports editor Roy Hall Jr. to keep them up on all of CHS’ sports accomplishments throughout the school year.Not only did he keep the public informed on great efforts from current athletes he also reminded them about many of the kids who had graced the fields and courts of play at CHS before them by comparing new marks, or outstanding ones, with past performances. In doing so, he inspired a lot of Carlsbad High School athletes to play up to or to exceed the standards set by those who competed before them. That’s a service that media outlets find difficult to provide today as these sources have experienced a lot of turnover and over the course of time things do get lost. High school sports records can also face a similar fate during coaching turnovers.
However that’s no longer a problem for the CHS track and field program thanks to Coach Hitchens efforts. Now, not only do the Cavemen and Cavegirls have a future, they also have a past. And might we add a very successful one at that.