The Best from Around the State will Gather April 15th, 2024 for the Marilyn Sepulveda Meet of Champions at UNM


1975 Alamogordo High School Girls Track and Field Team and 2nd Place State Trophy (

Alamogordo has had many memorable women that have lived within the city and made a lasting impact upon the city, state or nation in a variety of professions. One of those legendary power brokers who broke barriers for women in high school athletics and academic leadership was Alamogordo's legendary, Marilyn Sepulveda.

Medals for Marilyn Sepulveda Meet of Champions provided every year by her husband Coach Bob Sepulveda

Mrs. Sepulveda is known as the wife of the legendary track and field coach Bob Sepulveda of which the Alamogordo High School track and field is named in his honor. What many do not realized is his wife Marilyn (who died prematurely of cancer in 1989) was a mover and shaker in women's high school athletics statewide. She was a pioneer women's coach who won Alamogordo's very first women's state track and field and cross country championships under her leadership. 

Ms. Sepulveda was an outspoken lady who would take no bunk from anyone and wanted to ensure high school girls were given every opportunity as high school boys to compete and to be equally funded in their programs. She was hard nosed and strict on her girls ensuring they excelled academically first and foremost and with academic success then they were allowed to compete in sports. On the sports field she was hard ensuring their diets were balanced and appropriate, that their uniforms were well cared for and that they acted with respect and dignity wherever they traveled and represented Tiger pride with class.

She was a disciplinarian but different from today's standards. One former athlete told us of Coach Marilyn catching her skipping school and her punishment "was to scrub the cracks of the basketball gym floor with a toothbrush. For every hour she skipped that was an hour of brush cleaning the gym floor."  The young athlete was bitter at the time, now she reflects back and said Coach Marilyn was the best teacher she ever had and wished more today were like her. "She was strict but fair, always listened to her girls and would defend them to the end for what was right and just."

Coach Marilyn went on to ensure the local district funded the girls programs equal to the boys. When they were not she approached the school board and threatened that without equal funding Monday not a single female teacher will show up to work. The threat was taken as serious and from 1972 forward women's programs were given equality.

No sport garnered as much press at its launch, community hype and support as did girls track and field and cross country under the leadership of Coach Marilyn Sepulveda and in the 1974/75 season her girls brought home a state trophy setting a standard that carries forward under Coach Jason Atkinson today.

Prior to Marilyn's coaching and Title IX, money or spending on girls’ athletics, of course, was a topic of a lot of dialog during this period. Prior to the passing of Title IX, girls’ sports were operated in Alamogordo by the PE department under guidance of GAA, as a club. As such the girls had to fundraise to get the equipment, uniforms etc. needed. In a discussion with Ms. Mary Sittle, who along with Ms. Margaret Rutz who assisted with coaching and GAA programs in the 60’s; each mentioned the girls would do car washes, bake sales etc. to raise funds for the girl’s athletic programs. They said, “it was not uncommon for the money raised by the girls to then be diverted by the system at the time to boys’ activities,” an unfair and unethical concern.

Margaret Rutz was so concerned about funding equity that while at the state department of education in the 1970’s, she led a state survey into spending inequity and presented it to the State Board of Education.

Aug 5th, 1973 Alamogordo Daily News Headline: “Boys Get 16 Times More than Girls”

“A Department of Education survey shows New Mexico public schools spent about 16 times as much on boys’ athletic programs as they did on girls. The survey conducted last spring was presented to the State Board of Education by Margaret Rutz (former Alamogordo High School Girls PE Director) of the department staff.

Ms. Rutz said the surveys were sent to all public junior high and high schools in the state and responses were received by 82%. She said 165 schools that responded spent $1.7 Million on boys’ interscholastic sports for 1972/73 and $119,700 on girls’ interscholastic sports. Ms. Rutz said 165 schools reported almost 27,000 boys participated in interscholastic sports and 9,700 girls.

She said the survey figures indicate $63.86 was spent on each boy participant and $18.68 for each girl participant. Intramural programs were not included in the survey.”

Regardless of the spending inequity, times were changing, and so Alamogordo High began the roll out of interscholastic girls’ sports...

Alamogordo Daily News; June 5th, 1974, Byline: Randi McGinn: “Alamogordo Girls Will Be Competing in Five Sports”

“A big step for the Alamogordo school system...and a giant leap for women’s athletes.

That statement would characterize the proposal to have Alamogordo High School girls compete interscholastic in five sports...

After a long struggle with finances and public attitudes Alamogordo is taking a big step forward with what High School Athletic Director Glen Markham believes will be one of the best female athletic programs in the state…

Ladies in 9 to 12th grade now can compete in tennis,

volleyball, gymnastics, track and basketball whereas the only interscholastic program offered to girls the previous year was gymnastics…

A good part of the program is funded by gate receipts from basketball and football. Markham anticipates the first couple years or so the community will have to get used to the idea of women athletes, and then they will get behind the girls and start supporting them like they do the boys programs.

“Then the only obstacle in the way of a successful girl’s athletics program is the women themselves. Girls have to be trained for athletics;” Markham said. “They have to be willing to give up the weekend date with Bill to play in a tournament or practice. The athletic director predicts because of this lack of teaching girls to think athletically that the junior and senior girls of next year will not be as interested or willing to participate in the program as girls who are coming up.”

He said the new program would eliminate the GAA program which had previously been serving the needs of girls in grades 9 through 12.

GAA served more as a part time athletics basis, where girls practiced a sport maybe once or twice a week and then everyone competed together on field days against other schools. This is opposed to the new program where girls would have daily scheduled practices. The meets against other schools will operate on a varsity and junior varsity system where top players will be assigned to the varsity team.

Coaches for the new interscholastic girls’ programs will assist each other but their primary roles are Francis Stirman Basketball, Marilyn Sepulveda Track & Field, Cathy Price Tennis, Marsha Fiffer Gymnastics and Kay Morgan Volleyball.”

The Alamogordo girls were determined to prove their worth their first year as an interscholastic team led by Marilyn Sepulveda. 

Over 60 girls signed up for the 1st Interscholastic Girls Track Team to include Houghtslin, P Patterson, J Mancillas, R Pena, P Valle, J Serna, Christy Morgan, M Crawford, Doris Sandoval, Michela Maitland, L Law, C Sandoval, Michela Maitland. Middle Row: M Bennett, J Hall, C Groce, Mary Rodgers, C DeBoo, Donna Crockett, K Guerrero, D Scroggins, D Greenwood, J Lasamana, C Bridges, D Gatton, L Busick, S Sarmiento, S Thompson, A Dennis, D Perea. Top Row: Linda Beavers Manager, C Crawford, G Van Gilder, S Hluchanek, G Steward, P Coleman, J Laseter, Jacque McCarty Manager, C Whitesell, R Fatheree, Margaret Montgomery, C Beckett, Phyllis Fouts, Yanaka Pearson, W Tucker., D Gardner, Anita Floyd, C Frederick, R Kelsey, Jan McCarty, Vickye Murray, S Turning, P Whitehead, K Furr, Carolyn Patterson, V Keller, Julia Fultz, C Fawvor, S Pearson, and R Turning.

As the 1974/75 season progressed Alamogordo and Estancia made the strongest showings in their respective divisions the media reported. Media around the state to include significant coverage from newspapers and television in Northern New Mexico were focused on the Alamogordo Tiger Girls…

  • · Connie Wagoner, Carolyn Patterson, Parla Whitehead, Julia Fultz, Alamogordo, best qualifier 440 Relay state record record 50.6, old record, 51.0
  • · Connie Wagoner, Long Jump, new record 17-3 ¾ old record 17.0
  • Julia Fultz, Alamogordo, 100 Yard Dash, 11.4 new record, old record 11.7
  • · Julia Fultz, Alamogordo, 220, 25.8 new record, old record 26.0

Portales News Tribune, NM, May 11, 1975

Headline: “Alamogordo Tigers Capture 2nd in State Track Meet, Clovis in First”

Clovis and Estancia rolled to state titles in the Class AA and Class A girls’ state track and field championships behind powerful performances in relay events.

Alamogordo placed second behind Clovis followed by Del Norte in 3rd, Roswell in 4th and Cibola in 5th place.”

State Medalist Included:

  • Connie Wagoner, Vanessa Keller, Carrie Bridges, Parla Whitehead, 2nd Place, 880 Relay, 1:48.0
  • Connie Wagoner, Carolyn Patterson, Parla Whitehead, Julia Fultz, 3rd Place,
  • 440 Relay,50.6 Stella Thompson, 5th Place, 440, 63.1
  • Parla Whitehead, 6th Place, 440
  • Carolyn Patterson, 5th Place, 80 Hurdles ,11.5 Julia Fultz, 1st Place, 100 Yard Dash, 11.1 State Record
  • Connie Wagoner, 5th Place, 220, 26.4

o 2nd Place, 220, 25.8

o High Jump, New State Record 17-3¾

o 5th Place, Long Jump, 17-4½

  • Julia Fultz, Patterson, Chris Morgan, Parla Whitehead, 6th Place, 880 Medley

The Alamogordo Girls Track Team under the direction of Marilyn Sepulveda set records and a standard for girls and served as an example to the boys’ athletics program within Alamogordo High School. The Tiger Girls of this team were pioneers in demonstrating the potential of Title IX and demonstrated they took sports seriously under Marilyn Sepulveda’s leadership. Yes Mrs. Sepulveda still worked hard to instill the lessons of sports as means to grow self-awareness, a positive spirit and self-esteem.

An article titled “Tiger girls set a tough record for future teams to meet'' by Stan Green in a late May edition of the Alamogordo Daily New explained…

“Marilyn Sepulveda’s Tiger Girls set a track record this year that future Tiger Girl Teams will have trouble shooting down. The girls showed spirit, teamwork, confidence and grace. They compiled 519 points in 6 meets, racked up four 1st Place meet trophies and 2nd Place chunks of scrap iron including a 2nd Place in the New Mexico State Track Meet…”

The Alamogordo Tiger Girls Track team under its present Coach, Jason Atkinson, continues the traditions of the 1970’s in girls athletics; a tradition of winning, positivity, and teamwork, that these pioneering women accomplished. The Tiger girls of today run on the backs of history.

Today’s Tiger Girls Athletes compete with a program that was established with a strong reputation and recognition early on, and recognized statewide that it was a team; not to be underestimated.

Coach Marilyn was recognized around the state for her leadership. In the 1970s she broke barriers with New Mexico Activities and Athletics Association and the New Mexico Coaches Association which then was an all ole boys network. She gathered a group of female coaches from around the state and petitioned for women to be nominated to leadership roles in each of those associations from around the state. She won and women that are in leadership roles of each of those organizations today, can thank Mrs. Marilyn Sepulveda, for breaking the glass ceiling, demanding entry and gaining access for women to those roles, earlier than many other states around the nation.

She went on to be a founder of the New Mexico Cross Country Coaches Association, and led it, as its first president. She won many state and national awards and was nominated this year posthumously to join her husband Bob in the New Mexico Athletics Association Coaches Hall of Fame. He won that honor in 1996.

The track meet scheduled for April 15th, 2024, will be the 31st year of this important event. It is hosted every year at UNM and is by invitation only. It is as state qualifying meet. A large number of the state's top athletes gather at UNM for this unique meet on the high school track and field calendar. The Sepulveda brings together top performers in all events, regardless of their classification, for a one-day extravaganza. Many college recruiters, scouts and the major press attends this event as it is a showcase of the best in track and field within New Mexico and is a precursor to what one can expect to see at the state finals later in the year.

Most of the best schools from throughout the state attend when invited. Alamogordo High School will compete as will a few athletes from other regional school systems. Several of the coaches on hard were graduates of Marilyn Sepulveda's reign from 1965 to 1989 as a teacher and coach in Alamogordo.

The event will be April 15th, 2024 at UNM. We will be following and will post the results and commentary post event. Stay tuned...

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