2002 Cross Country
by Adam Kedge
New Mexico teams are positioning themselves for the final push towards state. Here is what you can expect to see over the last month of the season and at the November 9th state championship meet.
5A Boys: No team has established themselves as the clear-cut favorite for the state meet on November 9th in Gallup. Look for three teams to be in contention. Gallup winner of 13 state titles between 1983 and 1999 has the slight edge on making it to the top step of the awards podium. Sandia, winner in 2000, and La Cueva, three titles in the late 1990’s will be the squads with the best chance of keeping the Gallup Bengals from earning the 14th state championship. With the health of Sandia’s Eric Dean still in question the Matadors will have to rely heavily on seniors Michael Clarke and Craig White. Alex Romero of Albuquerque High is undefeated thus far this fall. Romero, Josh Rogers of La Cueva and Sandia’s Clarke should battle for the individual crown.
5A Girls: It is only mid-season but the Gallup Bengals look to be in post-season form. New to Gallup’s varsity, Cheyenne Lewis, has provided the Bengals with the added strength they need to make a run for their seventh consecutive title. Eldorado looks to be the best of the rest but may be competing to secure the runner-up spot come November 9th. The Los Lunas Tigers have one of their strongest teams in a number of years and will push for a trophy. Riann Lucy of Cibola and both Terra Brown and Roxann James of Gallup should all contend for the individual crown.
4A Boys: With an undefeated streak of over two years under their belts the Chargers of Albuquerque Academy are tearing through their competition like a buzz saw. Best bet to push the Chargers for a title is the Hilltoppers of Los Alamos and 2001 3A champs Shiprock. The individual state champ from last year in 4A is back to defend his title. John Bunting of Albuquerque Academy will be pushed by a deep field that includes Andres Urbina of Academy, Terrance Yesslith of Shiprock, and Alan Weeth of Academy. Look for most places in the top ten to go to any of the top three teams; Academy, Shiprock, and Los Alamos.
4A Girls: The Lady Hilltoppers of Los Alamos have steam-rolled the competition thus far in 2002. Currently undefeated and uncontested, Los Alamos attempts to win their 8th title since 1992. Their depth should be tough for any 4A team to match. Kristen Hemphill looks to be the leader of a pack of five that will most likely all end up in the top 10 places at state. Leslie Luna of Albuquerque Academy has demonstrated that she is the class of the state to this point. With Luna clearly the favorite for the individual crown she’ll need a huge effort from the rest of her Academy Chargers to upset the national power Hilltoppers. Rachelle Billie of Shiprock may be another of the select few to break up the green clad Los Alamos squad.
3A Boys: No team in 3A has come close to touching Pojoaque.
The 2000 champs are proving they are the team to beat. Lead by the healthy
2000 champion, Stephen Martinez the Elks right now are running head and
shoulders above the rest of the classification. Martinez and the rest
of the Elk squad have received a boost from transfer Darren Calvert who
placed 10th at state last year for 2A Mesa Vista. Calvert is running as
their #2 man through mid-season and may be the second best individual
in 3A come November. Other contenders are Dwight Carlston of Tohatchi
and Kyle Atwell of New Mexico Military.
A-2A Boys: Jemez Valley may win nearly uncontested come November 9th. By knocking of many 5A powers the Warriors have established themselves as one of the states best and the class of 2A. With a full varsity seven returning from last years championship team the rest of the A - 2A combined classification will have its work cut out for them. Zuni and Pecos will fight it out for the runner-up position. Individually Jemez Valley’s Jordan Shendo, Daniel Magdalena, and Eugene Gachupin all placed in the top 5 last November and should contend for the crown again this fall. Lloyd Yazzie of Rehoboth, Marvis Aragon of Laguna Acoma, and Tony Sando of Santa Fe Indian all have a chance to upset one of the many Jemez Valley Warriors.
A-2A Girls: Rehoboth’s Jessie Hale will lead her squad to battle Pecos and Santa Rosa for the girls team title in the combined A – 2A classification. Hale will be pushed by Ashley Quintana of Pecos who finished :03 second ahead of Hale on the state course during the recent Gallup Invitational. Hale may still have the edge being that she is the top returnee from 2001 (2nd overall). Other top teams will be Santa Fe Indian School and Santa Rosa.
Upcoming Meets to Watch:
Saturday, October 19th will be the Albuquerque City Championships where eleven 5A schools and two 4A schools will contend for the City Championships. Headlining the battle will be the 4A state runner-up Albuquerque Academy Lady Chargers vs. the 5A state runner-up Eldorado Lady Eagles. Individually on the boys side 5A top contenders Alex Romero and Josh Rogers will face each other prior to the state meet. John Bunting of Albuquerque Academy will factor into the mix as well.
Friday, October 25th it will be defending state champions galore meeting
up, 7300 feet elevation up, in Los Alamos. On the boys
side every title winning team from the 2001 will face each other in one
race. Defending 5A champs, Manzano Monarchs, will have their hands full
with the 4A champs Albuquerque Academy, 3A champs Shiprock Chieftains,
and the A – 2A winners Jemez Valley Warriors.