Molly Klein has been an exciting new addition for a very good Rio Rancho team already this fall. Photo contributed by Kelly Klein.
This article comes with a huge disclaimer. That disclaimer is that there is an awful lot of athletes in the New Mexico MileSplit database without know years of graduation. That would imply that I've probably missed a few of the top freshman girls in this article (please feel free to fill me in in the comments and future articles will be better informed--and the same would hold for boys as well). What we have below is a kind of "top of the class" listing for girls we know are freshmen.
With that out of the way, let's take a quick peek at who is setting the standard for the class of 2017:
1. Molly Klein, Rio Rancho - Klein's 18:49.7 not only puts her at the top of the charts, it has a lot of people believing she could become one of those special runners. As you'll soon see, there are multiple reasons why things are looking bright for the future of Rio Rancho cross country.
2. Cameren Kristensen, Albuquerque Academy - We got a glimpse or two last fall of Cameren Kristensen as an 8th grader, and that was enough warning that nothing we've seen so far this fall comes as a big surprise. But at 19:14 already, she's making a huge impact on the AA scoring five.
3. Alex Dean, Albuquerque Academy - Like Kristensen, we knew this one was coming. Dean's times, including her 20:06 season best thus far, are the stuff many runners only dream of and plenty enough to keep her as a force in the AA scoring five.
4. Alliana Atencio, Rio Rancho - Atencio, perhaps given some confidence by the success of teammate Molly Klein, went out and knocked down a 20:15 at the Cleveland meet across town on Friday. Watch for more things to come. When people start believing things are within their reach...
5. Megan Agena, Rio Rancho - Now you're beginning to see why optimism is running so high at RRHS. How many schools in this state have ever brought in a freshman class of girls like this one. Agena ran 20:29 at Cleveland to earn her spot on this list.
6. Megan Herrera, Pojoaque Valley - Like Kristensen and Dean, we saw a lot of Herrera as early as last fall. Herrera's 20:49 at UNM indiciates she is prepared to build on her finish from last fall.
7. Paris Chee, Piedra Vista - From Piedra Vista comes our first entry on the list from the Farmington area. Chee has been setting the standard for Piedra Vista all fall. Running 21:09 at Shiprock puts her into some select company statewide.
8. Kirsten Fotieo, La Cueva - Just in case you were wondering, Eldorado, AA, and Rio Rancho aren't having all the fun in the greater Albuquerque area. La Cueva has a few race horses of their own. And Fotieo's emergence at the Cleveland meet with a 21:11 bodes nicely for the future.
9. Amerhyst Aguirre, Oñate - Oñate had a special freshman last fall and another this fall. Beware of the team in black from Las Cruces. Aguirre ran 21:15 at Alamogordo, and then backed that one up with a win on a difficult course at Cobre. We'll be watching closely to see what happens at Centennial this weekend.
10. Annoesika Laughlin, Navajo Pine - Laughlin's 21:13 merits an enormous asterisk. Laughlin ran that time on the Rehoboth course, easily the slowest course of any yet mentioned on this list. When and if Laughlin hits a faster course, look for her time to push her up a notch or two or three on this list.
11. Linda Procell, Albuquerque Academy - On the off chance that any Charger in front of her falters, Procell's 21:13 is indication enough that she's ready to step up and hold her own on a moment's notice.
12 Jade Thompson, Gallup - Thompson ran a 20:44 on what I believe to be a three-mile course (someone please fill me in if that is mistaken) at Belen this last weekend. Certainly, that kind of time puts her into the select company of this group.
13. Jaci Sievers, Clovis - She went across the border into Texas to do it, but ignore Sievers' three-mile time of 20:50 at your own peril. Clovis looks to be competitive this fall, and Sievers is clearly a part of that picture.