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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
DyeStat New Mexico