There is a lot of room at the top this year in 3A boys cross country. None of last year's top six finishers will be back, and only two of the top ten will be back.
Team-wise, last year's state race ended up as a very close affair between Pojoaque, Shiprock, and Zuni, with St. Michael's within shouting distance. Zuni has migrated down to 2A, but each of the other three should have a lot to say about this year's outcome.
You know the template of these articles by now. The first thing we'll take a look at is the roster of returning runners from last year's top 50 at state. Runners whose year of graduation is uncertain (and may already have walked the aisle at commencement exercises) are marked with a question mark:
The story told here is a little different than the story told by the state cross country results. If Josh Diltz runs cross country for Hope Christian this fall (Diltz did run last fall, but did not appear in the state meet results, possibly due to an injury), the Huskies could very easily be a team to contend with on November 10.
Between Shiprock, St. Michael's, and Pojoaque, the guys from both St. Michael's and Shiprock demonstrated some strong potential for this fall, but their margin is not such that one would think it insurmountable. Shiprock's position looks somewhat more favorable if you dig into the 1600 meter rankings from the spring in addition to the 3200 meter rankings:
The key for whatever team comes out of this on top should be progression of runners from last year to this. St. Michael's and Shiprock both appear to have the critical mass of guys working on improving their race. One potentially unsettling indicator for Shiprock, however, is the absence of Eric Williams from this spring's track and field results. On the other hand, Levi Shawvan appears to have made a nice step forward between fall and spring.
Pojoaque's Jereme Santistevan needs to hope that his teammates who weren't running distance in the spring have been finding ways to boost their conditioning. In particular, Carlos Trujillo is the #4 returner from last year's state cross meet. If the Elks lose ground there, it's going to be tough to make up.
And, finally, keep half an eye, at least, out for what is happening at Hope and Ruidoso.
This one figures to be one of the tighter contests to be waged Rio Rancho on the second Saturday in November.