New Mexico

2002 Cross Country Preview

by Adam Kedge
New Mexico Track and Cross Country Coaches Association

5A Boys
It looks to be a battle between the most successful team in the history of the state and the best team during recent years for the 5A team title. Gallup winner of 13 state titles between 1983 and 1999 will give Sandia winner in 2000 all they can handle. Sandia may be a little stronger up front lead by seniors Michael Clarke, Eric Dean, and Craig White but Gallup's depth will keep them in the hunt. Other top teams will be 2001 champs Manzano and 4th place finishers La Cueva. Many of the top finishers from 2001 have since graduated so look for a new crop of runners to take top individual spots. Those places may be filled by Sandia's three along with Lonnie Williams of Gallup and Alex Romero of Albuquerque High.

5A Girls
It is about as sure as a sure thing can be, Gallup will be the heavy favorite once again in 2002. With six consecutive titles and a strong core of girls returning Gallup may even improve on their 67-point victory over Eldorado from a year ago. Everyone else may be competing for the runner-up spot come November 9th. A number of Gallup runners could contend with Riann Lucy of Cibola and Melanie Velarde of Eldorado for the individual crown. The best of the Gallup Bengals may be senior Roxann James. Whoever wins will make for an unusual sight on the awards stand being that the state has grown used to seeing four-time champion and All-American Felicia Guliford wear the crown.

4A Boys
Winners of 4 straight titles and with a solid core group returning the rest of 4A has a tough task knocking off the Chargers of Albuquerque Academy. Best bet to push the Chargers for a title is the Hilltoppers of Los Alamos with their five consecutive runner-up finishes. 3A champs Shiprock moves up to make 4A the strongest classification in the state. The individual state champ from last year in 4A is back to defend his title. John Bunting of Albuquerque Academy will have to contend with his teammate Andres Urbina and Terrance Yesslith of Shiprock. Look for most places in the top ten to go to any of the top three teams; Academy, Shiprock, and Los Alamos.

4A Girls
Turnabout is fair play, equally as often as Albuquerque Academy has edged out Los Alamos on the boys side the Lady Hilltoppers of Los Alamos have had their way with Academy on the girls side. Look for Los Alamos to win their 8th title since 1992. Front-runners like Marissa Sandoval along with great depth and tradition will allow for the Lady Hilltoppers to live up to their mascot name and be on top again in 2002. Leslie Luna of Albuquerque Academy and Rachelle Billie of Shiprock should break up a green clad Los Alamos squad that may take many of the top positions at state.

3A Boys
No division is more wide open than the 3A classification. Shiprock is gone to 4A so Wingate, Robertson, and Cobre are all liking their chances. 2000 champs, Pojoaque may be the team to beat but the winner could come from any squad that has done their summer conditioning. The individual crown should go to a healthy 2000 champion, Stephen Martinez of Pojoaque. Other contenders are Jerald Platero of Crownpoint and Kyle Atwell of New Mexico Military.

3A Girls
Defending champ Kelly Sanchez looks to lead a young Pojoaque squad to a title. She will have to contend with a tough Crownpoint team. Wingate lead by Cateka Tsosie may will be a force to contend with as well. Look for individual pressure on Sanchez from Geli Marci of Santa Fe ST. Mike's and Erin Lewis of Grants.

A - 2A Boys
With twelve titles since 1963 the defending champs Jemez Valley have established themselves as the class of 2A. In 2002 they return a full varsity seven from last years championship team plus a transfer that would have been able to place in the top 10 at state if rules did not require a semester off from varsity competition. Jemez Valley's Jordan Shendo, Daniel Magdalena, and Eugene Gachupin all placed in the top 5 last November and should contend for the individual crown with Brian Waatsa of Zuni and Marvis Aragon of Laguna Acoma.

A - 2A Girls
Laguna Acoma and Zuni were a ways back of the title team from 2001 and have some ground to make up. Santa Rosa will be lead by Melissa Chavez who was 4th at state in 2001. Rehoboth Christian's Jessie Hale may lead her team to contend with the above listed squads.

Foot Locker Western Region Potential
Right now New Mexico looks to be as thin as it has ever been for potential Foot Locker Cross-Country National Finalists. Top returnees on the boys side are Michael Clarke of Sandia, 62nd in West seeded race, and John Bunting of Albuquerque Academy, 76th. On the girls side the loss of three time national qualifier Felicia Guliford leaves the state with only Roxann James of Gallup (99th) that finished in the top 100 at the West Region.

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