Mexico State Meet
Nov 8, 2003 at Red Rock State Park - 6500 feet elevation, low 60s, flat, sandy - 5k
After going to court to regain eligibility after "unsportsmanlike conduct" at the district meet, La Cueva sr Shadrack Kiptoo 15:23 makes his case on the course with an 82-second win. Los Alamos sweeps 4A, with US#2 girls just missing a perfect score with 16 points (1-2-3-4-6) en route to their 4th straight championship. Gallup sweeps 5A, 8th straight for girls.
by Rob and Kathy Hipwood
With the much-publicized Kiptoo-gate controversy behind, New Mexico 's athletes, coaches, parents, and running fans were glad to get back to the sport itself and the thrill of another state championship meet. Under beautiful blue New Mexico skies, the 2003 meet provided much drama and excitement.
The most anticipated race of the day was the 4A boys. Albuquerque Academy, five-time defending state champions and last year's US#10 team, and Los Alamos dominated the rest of the state throughout the season. Los Alamos , the state's perennial bridesmaids with six-straight state runner-up finishes and eleven total, was hoping that this would finally be their year. Two mid-season meetings between the rival schools found Academy once again with the upper hand, as they took back-to-back wins, the second being a convincing 25-point margin at the Gallup Invitational. Just two weeks ago, Los Alamos got their first win over Academy in five years in an epic one-point battle at the LA Invitational. The stage was set for another close race between two evenly matched squads.
The only certainty throughout the championship race was that Academy's Andres Urbina would take the overall title and give the Chargers the immediate advantage. Urbina was fluid and in control the entire race, winning his first state cross country title and giving his school three-straight individual titles, as former teammates John Bunting and Alan Weeth had won championships in '01 and '02, respectively.
A little further back in the race, it was nearly impossible to get an accurate team score at any given time during the race, as the Academy and Los Alamos runners juggled positions throughout. In an impressive display of team strength, runners from either Academy or Los Alamos took 9 of the first 11 overall places. In the end, Los Alamos , led by sophomore Simon Gilna's 3 rd place finish, benefited from a 29 second pack time to win by just three points, 36-39, earning the first state cross country title in school history.
The US#2 Los Alamos Hilltoppers ran to a perfect score in 2002 and came within just one point of that feat again Saturday with an impressive sixty-seven point victory. With 200 meters remaining in the 4A race, Los Alamos held the top 5 spots, all within thirty seconds of each other, before Shiprock's Rachelle Billie (9 th in '02) caught first-year runner Megan Stockton. Stockton struggled through the final 400 meters of the race, being passed 30 meters out by teammate Analisa Sandoval who completed the scoring for Los Alamos with her 6 th place finish. As the crowd shouted out support for Stockton , she fell across the finish line in 7 th place, minus her two feet containing the computer chips to be used to determine her final finishing position. Two more runners passed her before she was able to get her feet across the line, giving the brave youngster an impressive ninth place finish.
As she has done all season long, defending state champion Kristen Hemphill led Los Alamos to another victory and their eighth state title in the last decade. Hemphill (12 th at FL West in '02,) and teammates Marisa Sandoval, Heather Wood (6 th at FL West in '02), and Anna Miller had the top four times of the day regardless of classification, as Los Alamos dominated the state meet. Their impressive pack left no doubt as to their high standing in the national rankings. Albuquerque Academy finished a distant second with 83 points, while Albuquerque St. Pius X (110 points) earned their first podium finish since a 2 nd place in 1995.
As expected, Albuquerque La Cueva senior Shadrack Kiptoo ran away from the field early. Kiptoo, who's running style is both graceful and powerful, ran 15:23 in the high altitude of western New Mexico , the day's best time by an incredible 58 seconds. Putting that in perspective, the next best time was that of Andres Urbina of Academy (4A), who last summer won the Adidas Outdoor steeplechase and ran in the World Youth Championships. Kiptoo's performance validates his sudden emergence on the national high school scene, as he should be a top contender not only at the FL regional championships, but also at the national meet.
Gallup High defended their team title with a 70-85 victory over Clovis with the Kiptoo-led La Cueva squad taking 3 rd at 92 points. This was the 15 th title for the storied Gallup program, while Clovis , a football-powerhouse and not known for its distance runners, was the surprise team of the meet. The Wildcats were exuberant when they were called down to pick up their well-earned runner-up trophy.
Coaching legend Curtis Williams, who had led the Gallup girls and boys to 26 state titles, retired last year, but first-year coach Galen Martinez, under tremendous pressure, did a outstanding job in continuing the winning tradition, as the Gallup girls won their 8 th straight state title with a convincing win over Albuquerque Sandia, 32-93. Gallup had four girls finish in the top 10.
Jocelyn Calderon of Carlsbad High School moved up from 9 th place last year to win the 5A title over last year's champion Sheyenne Lewis of Gallup.
Darren Calvert of Pojoaque took the individual honors after a runner-up finish in '02 and led his team to consecutive titles and their third championship in four years. Pojoaque, who has dominated 3A since re-classification in 2000, had four finishers in the top 10.
In the tightest team race of the day, Las Vegas Robertson found themselves one-point ahead of the pre-race favorite, St. Michael's High, 74-75. Robertson was lead by Sarah Padilla in 6 th place and as expected, Irena Ossola of St. Michael's took the individual crown in 19:35, nine seconds ahead of last year's champion Cateka Tsosie of Wingate.
Tradition-rich cross country schools, Jemez Valley and Laguna Acoma, once again found themselves at the fore-front of the small-schools division. Marvis Aragon of Laguna Acoma defeated Vernon Tosa of Jemez Valley to win the individual crown, but Jemez had three guys in the top ten to seal their 3 rd straight state title and 14 th title in school history.
Ashley Quintana of Pecos ran away with the small-schools race, winning her first cross country crown by 33 seconds. The smooth-striding sophomore had company for the first half of the race before pulling away to bring home the first individual title in school history. Santa Fe Indian School , led by Karleen Gachupin, took 9 th -12 th and 20 th to secure their first team title since '99.