Although nobody can guarantee a thing about what the order of finish will be on November 10, here's our MileSplit NM preseason top 10 for boys individuals.
1. Luis Martinez, Cleveland - It's more than difficult to argue with this one. If Martinez is healthy once again this fall, his gifts figure to be extremely difficult to overcome.
2. Zach Castillo, Volcano Vista - He won the 5A 1600 this spring and finished second in the 3200 to Martinez. It's hard to ask more than that of anyone. Castillo's race has clearly taken a step upward since last cross country season.
3. Sean Reardon, Los Alamos - The Hilltopper senior had a great spring on the track, culminating in a 4A second in the 3200 and a very convincing first in the 1600. That more or less validates everything he accomplished in cross country last fall.
4. Aaron Flores, Cleveland - In almost any other program in the state, Flores would be the go-to guy. Flores either improved his race in track this spring or is slightly better at track distances than cross country distances. We'll find out which it is this cross country season.
5. Matt Smith, Cleveland - By now, it's fairly apparent what the consensus pick as top team should be. If Flores has an edge on Smith, it isn't by much. The Cleveland roster is simply relentless.
6. Ryan Betty, Rio Rancho - The Rio Rancho senior ranked higher than this at the end of cross country season last fall, but struggled some during track season. Don't be too anxious to stick a fork in him, however, as some folks just fit better with cross country than track and field. It's likely that Betty is one of those guys.
7. Seraiah Pineda, Hobbs - Pineda could easily go higher than this. Frankly, there isn't much difference to point to between positions three and seven. If his race is on, the Hobbs senior is going to create problems for lots of folks.
8. Jared Mayoral, Cleveland - There are so many ways Cleveland can hurt you. Mayoral is one of those ways. Only a junior this fall, Mayoral may have the most room for improvement of any of the Storm's top four. And, that's a scary thought.
9. Austin Anaya, Moriarty - Anaya did not have a good 3200 at state track, but the rest of his track season points to a solid cross country campaign this fall. Maybe a little more of a speed guy than most top cross country runners, Anaya still has the endurance to make good things happen on the course.
10. Alonzo Chavez, Mora - It's tough to look at Chavez's times from last school year and realize that he ran his races in the small school divisions. The Mora senior gives up nothing in terms of talent to most of the guys on this list. He probably won't get to race much against them, but make it a point to watch when and where he does race. It's something special to have a small school runner running all alone at his level of performance.
There are several names that just missed securing a spot of recognition on this list. If any of those young men find a small extra measure of motivation for the coming season in that omission, well, that's what the sport is all about--finding that extra ounce of motivation and turning it into a difference maker on the course.
All the best this fall!
Coming Soon: Girls Top 10