Valene Madalena of Jemez Valley took an early lead in the 1A girls race and never looked back. Photo by Alan Versaw.
As it was for their male counterparts, this race was New Mexico's first-ever 1A girls state contest. The numbers were a little thinner for the girls race, but the memories were just as much there for the making.
And, probably nobody made more memories that Jemez Valley's Valene Madalena. Coincidentally, she also took the least time to make those memories, finishing her tour of the Rio Rancho High School grounds in 20:32, gaining ground on the field with every stride.
It didn't hurt Madalena's memory making that her green-clad teammates closed up behind her in 1-3-6-8-9 fashion to make it a double conquest for the Warriors. Jade Altheide's third-place finish put the rest of the field in a very difficult position to make up the early advantage for Jemez Valley, and the trio of Saje Mijares, Elauteria Patino, and Janae Henderson closed the deal on the inaugural 1A girls state title.
Cimarron and Desert Academy, and Taylor Bacon in particular, made every effort to keep it close, but Cimarron and DA simply weren't able to match up with the Warriors despite Bacon's strong finish of 20:54 for second or Cimarron's pack.
Only four complete teams, plus five more individuals, competed in this year's 1A girls state race. It stands to reason that helping to increase those numbers in subsequent years will be a point of interest for the NMAA. For now, though, the most difficult year is done and the trail has been blazed for others to follow in years to come.