For all intents and purposes, the 2011 New Mexico girls high school cross country season began as it ended--with Los Alamos taking it all. And there weren't many lapses for the Hilltoppers in the intervening two months.
The first Saturday in September saw Los Alamos stick it to all assembled at the UNM Lobo Invite. Led by Teresa Sandoval's individual title, the Hilltoppers beat second-place Eldorado at every scoring position and by a total of 20 points, As if to put an exclamation point on their mastery, the Los Alamos JV won with a team score of 22 points. One week earlier, Cleveland had dismantled the field at the Clovis Invitational, but the Storm was unable to pace with either Los Alamos or Eldorado on this day.
Generally speaking, small schools took their lumps at the Lobo Invite, but the 12th-place finish posted by the Bosque School spoke highly of the strength of at least one small school team.
On the same weekend, Santa Teresa put together a 1-2-3 finish at Alamogordo but was still unable to fend off 3A Silver in a two-mile event.
The weekend of September 10 saw a rematch of Los Alamos and Eldorado at the La Cueva meet. This time, however, the roles were reversed, with Eldorado taking a 16-point win over the Hilltoppers. And since Eldorado is 5A and Los Alamos 4A, the impression that the matchup in the state would have to be settled before the state meet began to gain traction.
Meanwhile down in Socorro, the two Rio Rancho schools staged a duel with a few other schools in attendance. For this round, the elder Rio Rancho based program prevailed over the younger, 44 - 59. And, at Jemez Valley's Invite, only 4A St. Pius X was able to withstand the dteermined charge of the Bosque Bobcats. Jacqueline Katzman and company successfully turned aside the challenges of small school powers like East Mountain and Santa Fe Indian School for second.
Eldorado continued their domination of things large schoolish at the Manzano meet the next weekend, though they did get a respite from seeing Los Alamos on this date. Around the state, Navajo Prep showed signs of strength in taking the Shiprock Invitational title.
Navajo Prep would come back with another strong showing at the Totah Invite on September 24, but their effort this time around would be overshadowed by a still stronger outing for Wingate. In other small school action that weekend, a Bosque team running without the services of Jacqueline Katzman was upended by East Mountain at their own Fall Fiesta.
The first weekend in October looked upon a small, but key, showdown on the two-lap Volcano Vista course. St. Pius X flexed a little muscle to beat out Cleveland and Volcano Vista, two solid 5A teams, at this one.
One week later, Shiprock's girls scored a big win over Wingate at the Zuni Invite, while Eldorado High School ran away from everyone at the Metro Championships, solidifying their claim to being the top girls team in the city of Albuquerque.
At the big showdown at Rio Rancho on October 15, Eldorado and Los Alamos battled to a near dead heat with Eldorado prevailing by the narrowest of margins. Both teams got rear-view mirror images of Cleveland, but those images were a little closer than they were at the beginning of the season. The Storm was approaching.
The last week of invitationals saw Cleveland travel to Los Alamos while Eldorado took something of a breather from the intensity of it all. Cleveland narrowed the gap to only eight points on Los Alamos, but the Hilltoppers, this time led by Jennifer Mooday, played for keeps and kept the meet trophy at home. St. Pius X ran a distant third.
On the same weekend, La Cueva beat Rio Rancho on a tie-breaker at the Valley Invitational, Shiprock notched a massive win at the Kirtland Inviational, Wingate dominated at Grants, and Eldorado coasted to a second at Sandia.
As expected, all the usual favorites cruised through district meets, setting up the four classification showdowns at the state meet.
The sky, however, did not break bright and clear on the morning of the state meet. November 5 threw almost every element of weather in the book at the huddled contestants. The state meet would be as much a matter of will as a matter of speed and endurance. How much and what kind of impact the elements had on the ultimate results will forever be a matter of speculation. Such things are not readily measured or quantified.
This much we do know: Bosque rode a 2-3-4 finish from Katzman and the sisters Kelly to a nine-point win over a strong Najavo Prep team. On this day, the team with front runners would prevail over the team with balance. In 3A, Wingate had no peers. St. Michael's made a nice stand, but fell 20 points in arrears, with Shiprock 21 points back. Wingate thus validated their remarkable season. 4A had what was likely the most lopsided outcome of the entire meet. A 2-4-5-8-15 by Los Alamos would beat St. Pius X by 67 points. No scorecard was necessary on this occasion; Los Alamos topped St. Pius by at least eight points at each of the five scoring positions.
A much-anticipated showdown between Eldorado and Cleveland materialized, and then vaporized as the Storm cleaned up on Eldorado at scoring positions 4 and 5. Through the first three runners, Eldorado held a one-point advantage, but relinquished their lead with the last two scoring runners. La Cueva, a team that had come on nicely at the end of the season, finished a distant third.