Mckenz Leekya was among five NM boys and two New Mexico girls who extended their cross country season into a lifetime opportunity of running at the USA Cross Country Championships in St. Louis on Saturday. Photo by Andrew Everett.
St. Louis isn't New Mexico. And 8K (or 6K, for the women) isn't 5K. And, the competition at this meet was nothing like anything any of New Mexico's representatives this weekend has ever seen in their home state. But, cross country is cross country.
And so, the experience that Preston Charlie, Brandon Levi, Jacob Riley, Mckenz Leekya, Preston Panana, Winona Martin, and Wyonna Martin found themselves in the midst of on Saturday was partly familiar and partly unfamiliar (probably, though, more of the latter).
Competing against several of the best junior men and junior women the country has to offer, the New Mexico seven held their own well.
Representing the Wings of America team, Charlie, Levi, Riley, Leekya, and Panana finished third of four teams and held their own well. Preston Charlie was the top Wings of America finisher in 26:58.2, good enough for 52nd among individuals.
Winona and Wyonna Martin weren't officially competing as part of the Wings of America (there was no full team for Wings of America in the junior womens race), but finished 51st and 55th overall. Both were among the youngest competitors in the assembled field.