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Cowboys’ captain soars

Chaparral track coach Leon Soares calls Joeal Hotchkins his "guarantee."

"He guarantees us points," Soares said. "He comes to practice hard every day. He’s our team captain.

"Every event that we put him in, he does well. Everything that he does, he does well."

In the 2008 state meet, Hotchkins placed in the top five in four events. He was second in the long jump, fourth in the 100-meter dash, fifth in the 200 and ran the anchor leg on the 800 relay team that finished fourth.

His fifth-place finish in the 200 a year ago was an upset. As a sophomore, Hotchkins won the state title in the 200.

Now a senior, Hotchkins is off to a great start. He won the 200 in 21.55 seconds at the California Relays on March 21 with the fastest 200 time by a Nevada runner this season.

On Saturday at the Las Vegas Track Classic, Hotchkins won the 100 and long jump and finished second in the 200.

Hotchkins leads the Southern Nevada Honor Roll on nevadatrack.org in three events: the 100 (10.74), 200 (21.55) and long jump (22 feet, 61/2 inches).

All three of those marks are close to his personal best. And it’s only the first week of April.

Hotchkins said the 200 and long jump are his favorite events.

"My personal goal for this season is to go under 21 (seconds) in the 200," Hotchkins said. "In the 100, I want to break the Chaparral record, which is 10.5, (and) to get over 23 feet this year in the long jump."

Hotchkins first ran track when he moved to Las Vegas with his family from California in 1998.

He got started running at an all-comers meet and joined a club team, the Silver State Jaguars, now the Vegas Lightning. Two of his current teammates on the Vegas Lightning are Las Vegas High’s Aaron Adkins and Valley’s Garic Wharton.

The three remain close friends even though they run for different schools.

Wharton, a senior, is the defending state champion in the 200. Adkins, a senior, is the top 800 runner in Southern Nevada.

Hotchkins cites Wharton as his biggest rival in the 100 and 200. He names his club coach, Lance Miller, as his role model.

"He helps me in everything and gives me good advice about running," Hotchkins said. "I want to beat his best mark in the long jump when he was in high school, 23-11."

Hotchkins is planning to attend a junior college after graduating from Chaparral and hopes eventually to compete at a Division I program.

Soares said Hotchkins might be headed for Santa Monica College, with UCLA on the horizon.

First, he’ll try to lead Chaparral to a state title.

In addition to Hotchkins, the Cowboys have several talented athletes, with the team’s greatest strengths in the sprints and jumps. Junior Malcom McMurray (sprints and long jump), senior Keith Carthon (hurdles), sophomore Juan Olague (hurdles and pole vault), senior Pierre Jones (sprints, long jump and triple jump) and senior Robert Porter (high jump and long jump) give Chaparral a solid nucleus.

Soares singled out Green Valley as Chaparral’s toughest challenge in the Sunrise Region. He also named Sunset rival Palo Verde as a contender for the state title, along with Reno’s Damonte Ranch, the 2008 champion.

But the key to the Cowboys’ success might be their guarantee — Hotchkins.

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