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2008 New Mexico Cross Country Preview

Albuquerque Academy/Los Alamos boys 4A rivalry again in the spotlight

by Sal Gonzales, DyeStat Southwest Regional Assistant

Boys Preview - Girls Preview

Girls Preview - 1-2A - 3A - 4A - 5A

1-2A Team

1. Navajo Pine: The Warriors lost 3 seniors to graduation (all in the top 21) and Kamber Richards to Volleyball and they are still the heavy favorites to 3-Peat as team champions. Their young runners may more than make up for the losses making this the best team that Tim Host has coached since his arrival in Navajo.

2. Santa Fe Prep: Coach Jody LeFevers has transformed this team into a perennial contender in the small school division. He has a large motivated force of runners who are also very capable. Emma Hamilton will lead the way for the Griffens but look for her sister Laura to make a big jump up the results page.

3. Bosque: Last year the Bobcats made their way to the podium led by Amanda Sayer and Madeleine Carey who found individual hardware at the finish line as well. This team could be ready to make podium appearances a yearly exercise.

4. Navajo Prep: It was not long ago when this squad dominated 1-2A (State Champs in 2004-05) and the fans of the 4-Corners school are hungry to see this team return.

5. Pecos: The Panthers return their top 4 runners from a team that finished 7th a year ago. They are led by the much-improved Margarita Gonzales who is hungry for a state medal after finishing 7th and 6th in the 1600 and 3200 respectively.

Others to Watch: Penasco, Tucumcari, Jemez Valley

1-2A Individual

1. Hailey Lucero, Mesa Vista, Freshman: The battle for the blue medal should be wide open this year. The early edge could go to Lucero who looks like she has finally harnessed in her early race aggression.

2. Emma Hamilton, Santa Fe Prep, Senior: Hamilton is the top XC returnee from 2007 and had an impressive run of 3200 races in the fall. She will need to put some distance between herself and the field if she hopes to capture the blue medal in November.

3. Chantel Hunt, Navajo Pine, Senior: Hunt is the only runner in the field with an individual state championship (3200m Blue in 2005) and could be seen by many as the favorite. Rumor has it she has been putting in some BIG miles this summer so look out.

4. Amanda Sayer, Bosque, Junior: Illness made Sayer’s 2007 a bit of a disappointment. If she is healthy in 2008 she could return to the form that helped her earn runner-up honors in 2006.

5. Tamara Hardy, Navajo Pine, Senior: Easily the best #2 runner in 1-2A and she will have to work HARD to hold off Angelique Small for that spot. Any of the Pine’s top 3 could reach the top of the podium in November.

Others to Watch: Sylvia Holland, McCurdy; Angelique Small, Navajo Pine; Margarita Gonzales, Pecos; Madeleine Carey, Bosque; Sabrina Lee, Estancia

3A Team

1. Zuni: A quick early pace cost the Thunderbirds the title in 2007. Coach Chris Carroll will not allow his girls to make that error again. Zuni could blow up what was one of the tightest divisions in 2007.

2. St. Michael’s: The Lady Horsemen have won the last 3 championships in the 3A division. Gone is Patty Murray who has been the team leader since the departure of Irena Ossola in 2007. What remains is the best 1-2 punch in 3A. Can Lenny Gurule find enough in the halls to bridge the gap between the team’s #3 and #4? He has done it before.

3. Pojoaque: The Elks success could be linked to the health of Jesenia Najera who was hurt for much of the 2007 season. Pojoaque is always a deep squad and should return to the podium. But the Elks will feel the lose of Senior Camille Martinez who will be studying in Canada this fall.

4. West Las Vegas: The Lady Dons put all of their runners in the top 40 a year ago and they now have the experience necessary to challenge for a spot on the podium.

5. Miyamura: Many will be cheering for the new Gallup school in 2008. Coach Felicia Gulliford can show them the way. The question is will the girls follow?

Others to Watch: Laguna Acoma, Thoreau, Cobre, Wingate

3A Individual

1. Kate Norskog, St. Michael’s, Sophomore: The 2006 State Champ tore up the track following a cross country season that was marred by illness and injury. A healthy Norskog will be one of the fastest girls in the state regardless of classification.

2. Sophia Torres, Pojoaque, Junior: The 2007 State Champ will be hard pressed to defend her title. This talented dynamo is as tough as they come and will not be denied because of lack of work.

3. Leane Lee, Zuni, Sophomore: Lee was the runner-up a year ago and that experience could pay big dividends in 2008. She may have the wheels to give Norskog at run at the title.

4. Erica Diaz, Cobre, Junior: Because Diaz has been good for so long it seems like she should be a senior. But the Cobre Junior will be back for two more years and all of 3A will have to pay.

5. Tess Amer, St. Michael’s, Senior: Tess has been one of the most consistent performers in 3A over the last 4 years. What she lacks in efficiency she make up for in determination.

Others to Watch: Carolyn Ives, St. Michaels; Bronwyn Bedrick, Sandia Prep; Nicole Luna, Laguna Acoma

4A Team

1. Belen: It is hard not to rank Los Alamos or Academy #1 but Belen deserve this spot until someone takes it from them. These ladies will hope that lightning will strike for the second time in Rio Rancho in 2008.

2. Academy: On paper, this is the strongest team in the state regardless of classification. Will this be the year that the Chargers fulfill their potential?

3. Los Alamos: Graduation has hit the Hilltoppers hard but it but these girls seem to always bring their best race to the course in November. The Hippwoods have a knack of getting the most out of their runners late in the season. Don’t count these girls out early.

4. St. Pius: The Sartans are in a tough spot following 3 of the top 5 teams in the entire state regardless of classification. They will need one of them to slip to get onto the podium in 2008.

5. Kirtland Central: KC could place its top 2 in the top 10 this November. Last year Myka Benally and Amanda Kerr finished 11th and 15th respectively. They should be able to make up for the point scored by their teammates and garner a top 5 finish.

4A Individual

1. Jackie Campos, Santa Teresa, Senior: Jackie ruled the long races in the 2007-08 season taking the cross country title in November and then running away with the 3200 in May.

2. Holly Walker, Los Alamos, Junior: Walker was runner-up to Campos in both the 3200 and cross country last school year.

3. Clara Milne, Academy, Junior: The best candidate for comeback of the year.

4. Aleona Reyes, Belen, Junior: The 2008, 800m State Champ found her Cross Country groove in 2007 finishing an impressive 4th. No one in the field wants her close if it comes down to a kick.

5. Amanda Throckmorton, Academy, Junior: Amanda finished 6th in Cross Country and added two more state medals to her collection in track (800 and 1600).

Others to Watch: Julia Foster, Academy, Paige Throckmorton, Academy, Gael Sanchez, St. Pius, Amanda Kerr, Kirtland Central

5A Team

1. Eldorado: The Eagles will be looking to 3-Peat in November and earn another trip to Portland in December. Some coaches in the state see chinks in their armor but I think that is only the reflection of the sun off their “Texas Orange” uniforms.

2. Gallup: The Bengals did something different for them in 2007; take home a green trophy. It is hard to bet that they will do that again. But this may be the deepest team field in the state so it isn’t out of the question.

3. LaCueva: The Bears were hit hard by graduation but the taste of upending the Bengals at the state meet and taking home the individual title is strong. They may have started something that will not stop any time soon.

4. Rio Rancho: The Rams have a deep squad that has already shown a new found racing confidence. They were tough against Los Alamos at a scrimmage and they placed two girls in front of the Castillo twins at Clovis.

5. Cibola: The Cougars will not sneak up on anyone in 2008. This squad has the top 4 to run with anyone in the state. If their depth comes through they may leave Rio Rancho with a square trophy in November.

Others to Watch: Sandia, Carlsbad, Highland

5A Individual

1. Allison Bedonie, Eldorado, Senior: Bedonie is ready to take the baton from Velarde. In the spring she proved that she could wheel with the best running 5:19 and 11:27 in the 1600 and 3200m runs.

2. Kepra McBrayer, Highland: McBrayer has the fastest returning time in the state but not running track makes her somewhat of a mystery every fall.

3. Jordan Brown, Gallup, Senior: Jordan has been one of the more consistent runners in the state over the last 4 years. Could this be the year she takes home the blue medal?

4. Kristy Hannah,Eldorado, Junior: Kristy’s great track speed (4th in the 400) and efficient stride make most observers believe that she can be the fastest runner in the state. She will have to prove that with her feet if she wants the top podium position in November.

5. Brandy Castillo, Carlsbad, Senior: Castillo has been good for so long that people will want to question her eligibility. But fear not she is no Danny Almonte. She is just one of the fastest girls sough of I-40.

Others to Watch: Alana Littleford, Rio Rancho; Gabby Ellison, Cibola; Brittany Castillo, Carlsbad; Tamara Lementino, Rio Rancho

Boys Preview - 1-2A - 3A - 4A - 5A

1-2A Team

1. Navajo Pine: The Warriors lose 2 top 10 runners but return a very dangerous 1-2 punch (Thomas Martinez and Tim Chee) that could finish in the top 3. They are the favorites to win their 4th title in a row.

2. Pecos: The Panthers return 6 of 7 runners who were part of the state runner-up team in 2007. They may provide the Warriors with their most serious threat in years.

3. Jemez Valley: Jemez also return 6 of 7 but their lone graduation gown was worn by their top runner. Back to Back 4th place finishes have the Warriors hungry for hardware.

4. Penasco: These Panthers have the 2nd best 1-2 (Grayson Vogel and Brandon Medina) punch in 1-2A. But they will need some help to ascend the podium for the 3rd straight year.

5. Mesa Vista: This could be the year that coach Ben Sandoval puts his Trojans on the podium. Last year they had great numbers for both cross country and track. The latter season was very successful they are now ready to take a jump in XC.

Others to Watch: Bosque, Santa Fe Prep, Mora

1-2A Individual

1. Mario Armijo, Pecos, Senior: The defending state champ has spent the summer tearing up the Pecos trails in search of even deeper fitness. He will have to keep working hard to hold off a pair of talented runners from Navajo.

2. Thomas Martinez, Navajo Pine, Senior: Thomas and Mario share hairstyles and a quest for speed. If you want a good bet for 2008 bet that a mo-hawk will cross the finish line first (picking the color of hair will be harder as Mario sprays it green and Thomas blue).

3. Tim Chee, Navajo Pine: Coach Tim Host raves about Chee’s talent. He may upend the above mentioned mo-hawked harriers in November.

4. Grayson Vogel, Penasco, Senior: A basketball wrist injury spoiled Vogel’s track season. Count on him to return to form in XC. (Vogel sported a fo-hawk in 2007; their may only be 1 barber for all of 1-2A)

5. Troy Madalena, Jemez Valley, Sophomore: Troy just missed earning a medal in track to go with his cross country medal.

Others to Watch: George Sando, Jemez Valley; Edward Montoya, Hagerman; Adrian Carton, Navajo Pine;

3A Team

1. Zuni: The name on the back of the singlets may change but the results stay pretty much the same in Zuni.

2. St. Michaels: The Horseman return a strong cast and will challenge for the top spot in 3A. The battle between St. Mikes and Zuni will be close.

3. Hope: The Huskies qualified 6 different middle distance runners to the state track meet in the spring. This squad is deep and led by the best runner in 3A. They will be a contender for the blue trophy.

4. Pojoaque: Coach Alan Lockeridge always finds a way to put together a solid squad. Last year the Elks started off strong and then faded. Experience should change that route and make this a 4 team battle for the blue.

5. Wingate: Graduation hit the Bears hard but count on Coach Tony Notah finding enough harriers (and he will get them ready) to challenge for a trophy in November. However, with both Thoreau and SFIS returning all of their state runners the Bears had better have a sense of urgency if they want to remain in the top 5.

Others to Watch: Thoreau, SFIS, Laguna-Acoma

3A Individual

1. Ryan Fenton, Hope, Senior: Fenton was the 1600m State Champ in the spring but he also has 3 runner-up medals on his mantle (3200 in 2007 and 2008, and cross country in 2007). 2008 will be Fenton’s year to shine. He is the top runner in 3A and one of the fleetest runners in the entire state.

2. Evan Bekes, Bloomfield, Sophomore: In Spring this wunderkind proved that his 10th place finish at state was no fluke. Beware of Bekes as if he experienced his Sophomore growth spurt over the summer.

3. Marcus Toya, Thoreau, Senior: Toya was 3rd in 2008 (XC) and came away from the state track meet with a 1600m medal (6th in 4:39). He snuck up on many last November but will not be able to do the same this year.

4. Fred Baca, St. Mikes, Senior: Baca and his teammate Trevor Serrao will provide the Horseman with the most dangerous 1-2 punch in 3A. Both have the talent to challenge for a top 3 medal. Baca gets the nod hear because he finished higher at state cross country in 2007.

5. Thomas Zunie, Zuni, Senior: Thomas finished 6th in 2007 cross country and was the lone Thunderbird to qualify in 2 distance events in the spring.

Others to Watch: Dillon Shije, Sandia Prep; Eric Fenton, Hope, Dustin Walthall, Thoreau

4A Team

1. Albuquerque Academy: 1997 was the last year that neither Albuquerque Academy nor Los Alamos boys’ teams came a way with a state team title. The Red v. Green battle has become recognized as the best cross-country rivalry in the nation. Last year LA beat Academy twice (at NM 4A State and NTN) but the Red Army won the season series. Marc Bloom, (editor, founder and author of The Harrier), has Academy ranked 3rd in the nation and Los Alamos ranked 10th, and I know that I am nowhere near as smart or as knowledgeable as MB so Academy gets the nod here.

2. Los Alamos: see above

3. St. Pius X: The Sartans return 4 runners from last years 3rd place team. That should be enough to hold off the field.

4. Shiprock: The Chieftains took home the title in 2001 and look to regain that championship feel in 2008.

5. Grants: The Pirates will be hoping to challenge St. Pius and Shiprock for 3rd by moving their pack closer to the front of the line. In 2007 Grants placed 1 runner in the top 20 and the rest of their scoring 5 finished in the top 50.

Others to Watch: Espanola, Farmington, Aztec

4A Individual

1. Pat Zacharias, Academy, Junior: Big-Z’s state 3200 (9:33) and his impressive performance at NTN prove that he is ready to lead on the big stage.

2. Kyle Pittman, Los Alamos, Junior: Pittman was 3 seconds off of Zacharias in the 3200 and will challenge for the 4A title in November.

3. Gareth Gilna, Los Alamos, Senior: Gareth might be the best #2 runner in the nation. In the spring he finished 2nd in the 1600 (4:23) and 5th in the 3200 (9:41). Last November he was the 7th runner across the finish line at state.

4. Douglas Torres, St. Pius: Torres will be looking to break up the Red and Green party at the finish line.

5. Ryan Clark, Academy, Junior: In cross country Clark broke through at NTN. He followed that up by running 10:00 for 3200m in the spring.

Others to Watch: Anthony Lauriello, Academy; Kevin Hemphil Los Alamos; David Feddema, Academy

5A Team

1. Cibola: The Cougars were a Chris Montoya flu away from the championship in 2007. On the track they have proven their depth and they should have the firepower to finish the job they started in 2007.

2. Gallup: The Bengals have taken home five blue trophies in the 2000s. The last two were won by the narrowest of margins. This may be the first time since 1981 that Gallup does not win a team or individual title (Boys or Girls).

3. Sandia: The Matadors just missed a trophy in 2007. Coach Curtis Williams is excited about his 2008 squad so the rest of the state should beware.

4. Eldorado: The Eagles have the best 1-2 punch in 5A (and maybe the state). If the next 3 can step up they may have a shot at the blue trophy.

5. Hobbs: These Eagles will surprise many. Coach Bob Jackson has had these boys on the trail all summer and their work showed.

Others to Watch: Los Lunas, La Cueva, Manzano, Rio Rancho

5A Individual

1. Kevin Palmer, Eldorado, Senior: Kevin is the defending state champion. Defending that title may be a difficult task as he faces fast runners from around the state and from within his own home.

2. Jacob Lozano, Hobbs, Senior: Lozano was 6th in 2007 but early season action has shown that he is much improved.

3. Bryce Palmer, Eldorado, Senior: Disciplinary action kept Bryce off the course late in 2007. In the spring, he clocked 9:40 in the 3200 to take home the blue medal.

4. Christian Meyer, Sandia, Junior: Meyer’s 5th place performance in 2007 was impressive. He

5. Michael Montoya, Manzano: Michael was 3rd in cross-country in 2007 but followed that performance with a disappointing track season. He will be hard pressed to duplicate his 2007 run.

Others to Watch: Robert Selph, Rio Rancho; Chris and Vince Montoya, Cibola; Jonah Roubaliz, Los Lunas,

Southwest Regional Index