With New Mexico Junior College track and field coaches on each side of her, Hobbs graduate and Class 6A state long jump champion Ciara Mackey (center) commits to NMJC and will be a part of the two-time defending Lady Thunderbird track and field national champions next year.
Ciara Mackey knew she wanted to participate in track and field at the college level. She also wanted to get away from the town she grew up and graduated from high school in to do so. But, its not everyday the two-time defending national champions for track and field come knocking on your door and ask you to join them.
"We have been looking at Ciara for the whole season," NMJC track & field coach Keith Blackwill said. "It is just with our track season going and Hobbs High's track season going, it is very difficult. Coach (Jeff) Becker ran into the Hobbs coaches at the Hobbs meet which I couldn't get to and then (Hobbs) coach Cricket (Lopez) got a hold of me through coach Becker and that is kind of the way it worked.
"She is a New Mexico state champion in the long jump and (third place) in the triple jump," the coach continued. "She is going to come in and help us a lot no doubt."
That is exactly what happened for Mackey though. The 2018 Hobbs graduate, who won the Class 6A state long jump title with a leap of 18-feet, 2.75-inches and finished third in the triple jump (37-4), signed a letter of intent with New Mexico Junior College on Thursday afternoon.
"I wanted to move away," Mackey said. "But, how can you move away from one of the best programs that there is for something that you want to do?"
While the Lady Thunderbirds have no issue bring in top talent, Black-will was excited that the team was able to secure a local talent.
"It helps the program a lot," the Lady Thunderbirds coach said. "The exposure for the program and the fact that we are able to keep the local kids local, that to us is big. We are extremely pleased."
Not only was the success the Lady Thunderbirds have had in recent years a draw for Mackey, but so was the fact that NMJC will host the NJCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships next year.
"I couldn't just say no to that," Mackey said. "This is my hometown."
Mackey knows the competition is going to be much tougher at the collegiate level, but she is ready to show what she can do against them.
"The competitors are going to be better than in high school," Mackey said. "In high school, there was just me and like two other girls who were just good. But now, I am competing with people who have national championships and have been doing this for years. It feels good to know that somebody believes that I can compete with the top people."
One of those competitors Mackey talked about is going to be here teammate. At nationals last month, Kristal Liburd won the indoor long jump
(6.21-meters) national championship and finished second in the triple jump (12.46-meters). She also finished third in both the long jump (5.95-meters) and the triple jump (12.73-meters) during outdoor.
"Kristal Liburd is a national champion long jumper and is coming back," Blackwill said. "She will help Ciara to work hard during practice and to get where she needs to be. It is always good to have more competition in practice than you do at meets."
Getting a chance to meet her future teammates and tour the campus was a big deal for Mackey.