La Cueva's Natasha Bernal looks to finish the 2014 New Mexico Cross Country season with a couple State Titles. Photo by Blake Wood.
State’s only a day away, so let’s quickly look at each Classification before the teams step to the line.
These Previews are pretty straightforward looking at Favorites, Podium Contenders and Individual Title Contenders. Seeing as how these Previews are based on submitted Race Results, there are going to be some Teams/Individuals who may not get their proper due. But that’s the nature of the beast. The great thing is, this all get’s settled Saturday Morning at Rio Rancho!
Favorite(s): Rio Rancho (Box 11), La Cueva (Box 10)
Podium Contenders (Virtual Meet): Cibola (Box 15), Clovis (Box 9), Eldorado (Box 6), Onate (Box 12), Volcano Vista (Box 5)
Individual Contenders: Natasha Bernal (La Cueva), Andi Almodovar (Rio Rancho), Molly Klein (Rio Rancho), Mason Swanson (La Cueva), Juanita Johnson (Cibola)
The New Mexico #1 versus the Defending Champions. The battle between Rio Rancho and La Cueva could potentially be right up there with the best Albuquerque Academy-Los Alamos affairs. With it being State, and magic potentially happening for anyone, any of the next five teams could conceivably finish on the podium.
When last on this course, La Cueva’s Natasha Bernal recorded a 17 seconds margin of victory, and that was over teammate Mason Swanson. Look for a Bernal to cap her undefeated season in emphatic fashion. However, this is State, so anything can happen. Should that anything happen, La Cueva’s Swanson, Rio Rancho’s Andi Almodovar and Molly Klein, or Cibola’s Juanita Johnson could take advantage.
The Hobbs Eagles will attempt to be the first southern New Mexico team to make the podium in Rio Rancho. Photo by Alan Versaw.
Favorite(s): Rio Rancho (Box 11), Hobbs (Box 13)
Podium Contenders (Virtual Meet): Cibola (Box 16), La Cueva (Box 14), Volcano Vista (Box 6)
Individual Contenders: Devin Paredes (Rio Rancho), Chris Harlow (Cibola), Tom Hiett (La Cueva), Michael Goke (Rio Rancho), Carlos Oregon (Hobbs)
There are obvious physiological disadvantages for many of the southern teams coming up to Albuquerque, that’s given. (Just to illustrate the difficulties of coming up: since moving to Rio Rancho in 2006, no southern school has placed higher than 4th in the largest Division (5A/6A). The closest was 2013’s Hobbs Boys who scored 146 points for 4th.) But something about this Hobbs team feels different. Whether it’s the undefeated record they bring with them, the competitive pack time, something feels different.
The Rio Rancho Rams will be patiently waiting, regardless of what that difference is, welcoming all-comers. Metro, Jamboree, and District have all been checked off, and the Rams are looking to defend their title.
The Individual race will be just as intriguing. For most of the season, competitors from other Classifications have overshadowed the 6A frontrunners, not in this race. Cibola’s Chris Harlow and La Cueva’s Tom Hiett will ardently test Rio Rancho’s Devin Paredes, the reigning Metro Champion. Should any of those three not be up to the task, Paredes’ Ram teammate Michael Goke and Hobbs’ #1 Carlos Oregon could claim the victory.
Saturday we get to see all the summer miles pay off. Saturday all the hypotheticals cease. Saturday EVERYTHING gets settle for one calendar year. It’s the best time of the school year, State Cross Country everyone!