Jordyn Romero leads a very good St. Michael's team into next fall, but they'll need to close ground on a Shiprock team that has all of their scoring runners coming back. Photo by Alan Versaw.
The 2013 cross country season appears, even at this early date, to be destined to start the season with a fairly considerable favorite in the girls team race. That favorite would be a familiar favorite in the form of the girls from Shiprock. The Chieftains bring back their entire scoring five from state--Cassandra Peters, Shania Harry, Melanie Secody, Megan Johnson, and Kairai George.
While that group may not win an individual state title, it was plenty strong enough to win a state team title this fall and could be again next fall unless some other team steps up with an adequate response to Shiprock's overall depth.
Sandia Prep ran a very close second this fall and brings back Rachel Fleddermann, but the Sundevils lose their #2 and #3 to graduation. That puts Sandia Prep in a serious squeeze right out of the gate.
St. Michael's finished third this year and returns with a much stronger hand, at least on paper, than Sandia Prep. Jordyn Romero will be back as one of the classification's top runners. She's backed by strong midpack runners like Mackenzie Serrao, Kaitlin Dobesh, and Alondra Mendez. The supporting cast will need to improve over this year to make a serious run at Shiprock, but that kind of improvement seems within the realm of possibility.
Pojoaque and Taos start from a bit further back yet, but both have the talent to mount a charge to the top (Megan Herrera of Pojoaque and Haley Rach and Hannah Gunther of Taos come to mind pretty quickly). The question for both of these teams will focus more on developing the last two or three scoring positions. Santa Fe Indian School didn't have the best of state meets last fall, but showed some potential earlier in the season that may indicate a readiness to join the team battle next year.
Individually, Rachel Fleddermann has her name all over the role of favorite, but this sort of thing can change a great deal over the course of a year. Pojoaque's Megan Herrera made a credible run this year as an eighth grader and figures to be back for more next year. Haley Rach and Jordyn Romero have both shown well in the past and could close the gap with some strong progressmade over the off-season. It will take some major movement from anyone not yet listed to add their name to the list of favorities come next August.
Pojoaque Valley made such a dominating show of this this fall that it's difficult not to imagine them in the driver's seat once again next fall. It doesn't hurt a bit that Jereme Santistevan, Matthew Herrera, Derrick Grasmick, and Ryan Maestas come back. Yes, Pojoaque takes a couple of hits to graduation, but not enough to boot them out of the status of favorites going into next fall's season.
St. Michael's figures to be back in the role of pursuit next fall, too. Troy Pacheco and Sean Noonan figure to lead that chase.
Others with good reason to hope include Ruidoso, Taos, Shiprock, and Hope Christian. In short, all of the team contenders from this year figure to be back as team contenders next year. They all lose something to graduation, some even lose their top runners, but there's enough depth in the tank at each school, that nobody figures to be taking the kind of big hit that will knock them out of contention next fall.
And, any one of these schools could become a serious problem for the others with some unexpected development at the bottom of the scoring lineup. That's where cross country meets--and especially the big meets--are won and lost.
Individually, if you watched Jereme Santistevan at this year's state meet, you already have him projected as the favorite for next year. His race was a piece of simple domination. Anyone who is going to chase him has a lot of ground to make up right from the beginning. Top candidates to make up that ground include Shawvan Levi of Shiprock and Donevan Gravelle of Taos, both of whom enjoyed some very solid moments on the course this fall. Moises Coca of West Las Vegas and Roy Madrid of Taos rank as more distant hopes to close the gap and become part of the chase.
All things considered, the power structure within 3A figures to look next fall much like it did this fall.