There's some optimism in the Albuquerque Academy camp, and Alex Dean and Cameren Kristensen are two of the reasons for that optimism. Photo by Alan Versaw.
When discussing New Mexico 4A cross country, we're all accustomed to the names of Los Alamos and Albuquerque Academy coming front and center. We're a little less accustomed to that being the case, however, when we're discussing 4A girls cross country.
But, make no mistake about it, the stranglehold LA and AA appear to have on 4A girls cross country is, at the moment, tighter than their stranglehold on 4A boys cross country.
Los Alamos was, of course, completely dominant in 4A girls last year. Nobody could match the Hilltoppers' depth, and few could match their front-end talent. And, honestly, graduation did hit all that hard this spring. Jennifer Mooday and Teresa Sandoval are gone, but most of the team is back. There's an entire varsity roster of sub-20 kind of girls returning. It's very difficult to say who will be #1 for Los Alamos in any given meet. Maybe Mikayla Pulliam, maybe Talia Dreicer, maybe Madison Foley, maybe Amanda Mercer, maybe Sophia Galvez, maybe Jordan Parker, maybe....
Speed kills, but depth nails the coffin shut. Those concentric red circles on the back of the Los Alamos unis are going to clash a little with the greenish color scheme.
Making a serious bid for the honor of wearing the concentric red circles on their backs will be Albuquerque Academy. In case you hadn't noticed, the youth movement hit AA hard in 2012-13, and it's time to reap the rewards of all the experience going out to an armada of young harriers.
Looking at last year's cross country results, you'd figure that the front of the pack wil be Archibeck squared. Looking at this spring's track and field results, you see that no less that four girls ran 3200 times ahead of either Claire or Erin Archibeck. Those four would be Melina McClure, Ellie Wynn, Alex Dean, and Cameren Kristensen. If you're Coach Kedge, suddenly you're starting to think you have a Los Alamos kind of problem on your hands.
Like Los Alamos, Albuquerque Academy might have trouble locating enough available varsity slots this fall. Hopefully, we'll see the two big powers collide a few times before state this fall--that should happen at UNM and the Los Alamos Invitationals, and perhaps one or two other meets.
Any other team figuring to close the gap on Los Alamos and Albuquerque Academy had best start recruiting some triple jumpers off their track team, because it's going to take some leaps and bounds to get there.
St. Pius X is probably best positioned to get there. Losing Marissa Nathe will hurt, but getting Julie Giannini and Kelli Reagan back for another go is still a great place to start. All the Sartans need to do is find three more sub-20 types and they're right in the thick of things. Track season says Hannah Baca found a set of those kind of wheels, so maybe it's down to finding two more.
Frankly, behind St. Pius, there's a substantial gap back to the rest of the field. Aztec, Piedra Vista, Valencia, Del Norte, Santa Fe, Santa Teresa, and Belen all have very credible teams but also have some fairly big questions to answer. A freshman (or eighth grade) phenom or two could make a big difference for any of these schools.