Kelly Regan, Jennifer Mooday, Julie Giannini, and Malia Gonzales battle it out at the front of the pack at the Los Alamos Invitational on Friday. Photos by Blake Wood.
With the meets of the past week in the books, the invitational season in New Mexico is officially done. From this point forward, everyone is playing for keeps. Let's see how things shook out on the last weekend of rehearsal for the championship season...
For those wondering about Jackie Katzman, she was running--and doing the old, familiar winning thing at this meet. And that's seems to have been a good reason to give the Kelly sisters the week off. Hopefully, we'll get to see them all together in Bosque blue during the championship season.
The girls team title went down almost as tight as it can get in cross country. Los Lunas slipped out of town with the meet trophy, one point ahead of Grants.
There wasn't any mystery about the boys team title. Laguna-Acoma has had a way this season of making things not very mysterious. This time is was 1-3-4-5-8. Simple, but effective. Jacob Riley takes the individual win in 17:47. The one question left to answer for this crew concerns whether anyone or anything can stop this speeding freight train as it prepares to plow through the state meet.
San Juan County cross country had its final hurrah of the invitational season hosted at Kirtland Central. I don't know the course, but it appears to have been a rough one. There's enough of that kind of country up that way if that's your style of cross country.
Shawvan Levi of Shiprock edges Harrison Fleming of Piedra Vista, 17:50 to 17:54 for the individual title, and the Chieftains double things up with the team title as well. Shiprock will be a force in 3A.
For the girls, Navajo Prep kept their string of wins alive, but barely got out of this one unscathed. NP beat Shiprock by only a single point in this one, 50 - 51. Kirtland's own Sheri Adair got the individual title in 21:42.
For those who love cross country, the season passes altogether too quickly. For those who run cross country, it may be a different story. In any case, we have arrived at the final weekend of invitationals.
The national attention that was focused on New Mexico this past week was definitely tuned in to this meet. Since Los Alamos and Cleveland won't face each other in the NMAA championship season, this little matchup took on some added meaning. And, guess what? It's still close, but it's still Cleveland. This time, the final tally was 34 - 39, very reminiscent of Socorro's final tally. Luis Martinez and Aaron Flores got things off to a good start for the Storm, going 1-2, and the trailing guys in electric blue had just enough speed to hold off the guys in green and finish the job.
Going up the hill and beating Los Alamos on their own
putting greens, um, fairways probably counts for an extra bonus point or two. And, it's certainly not as if Los Alamos rolled over and played dead for the visitors. Before we leave our discussion of the boys race, a big hats-off to Pojoaque's Jereme Santistevan (pictured, left, dueling down to the finish with Los Alamos's Nick Hill) who nailed down third in the midst of a small war between Cleveland and LA, running 16:17 for his award.
For the girls, Malia Gonzales takes the individual crown, trailed by a trio of SPX Sartans at 20 - 30 seconds back. If that trio ever finds its way into a quintet, there are a lot of folks in 4A in big trouble. For now, though, the Los Alamos depth just keeps rolling right on through the resistance. LA takes a 13-point win over St. Pius X even after spotting the visitors from Albuquerque a big lead through the first three. Albuquerque Academy, running without the services of one Claire Archibeck, holds on for a strong showing in third.
You know about Ruidoso. Unlike the rest of the schools in the southeast region, this school is actually at altitude. Los Alamos kind of altitude, to be more precise. And they didn't design their course to take it easy on the lowlanders. Think of this one as the pre-districts sufferfest for the southeastern schools.
Only Hobbs didn't appear to be suffering all that much. Nor did the usual three female suspects from Santa Teresa.
Seraiah Pineda stormed through the field for a 27-second win over Zac Rhodes of Onate. The rest had mostly disappeared from Pineda's rear-view mirror. And the Hobbs Eagles went 1-3-4-6-12 to easily take first as a team as well. Homestanding Ruidoso ran a distant second with 60.
As for Santa Teresa, they should get together with St. Pius X and commissrate a little. Or, perhaps they could merge their teams into a single 5A girls superpower. Scheduling practices between the two schools could become somewhat challenging, however.
In any case, the names of Britani Gonzalez, Regina Marquez, and Joanna Miranda are becoming altogether too familair at or near the top of race results from the southern tier of the state. In this case, they were squarely at the top, as in 1-2-3. Fourth was 30 seconds back of Miranda. Despite all that, Hobbs and Clovis go 1-2 in the team tally. Depth rules in cross country.
I'm hoping the Montessa Park course is flat and fast, because the times here were of the screaming variety for 5K. Obviously, Jenna Thurman has rounded back into top form and will be a serious force to contend with at state. Belen's Arena Lewis looked a bit more like she looked earlier in the season at this one as well. 4A girls figures to be a very nice mixture of team and individual talent. If you're taking a concession break during this one at the state meet, you just don't understand good cross country.
Rio Rancho's Preston Charlie and Ryan Betty may have been trying to cross the finish line simultaneously at 15:29 in the boys race, but it never quite works out that way. Or, they just may have been battling to the end. In any case, the times were impressive.
Rio Rancho (boys) and La Cueva (girls) did a little stomping in the team competitions, Rio Rancho claiming five of the top ten places to complete their scoring, and La Cueva commandeering seven of the top 14 places to complete not only their scoring, but their entire team. Both teams look sufficiently tuned up for districts, not that either figures to need an excessive level of tuning to move on.