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New Mexico Season Preview

By Sal Gonzales - PreSeason Coaches Poll

Boys - Girls



1. Navajo Pine, Warriors:
The 4-time defending champs will be the pre-season favorite until someone poses a serious threat to this juggernaut. The Warriors will be led by Timmy Chee, who finished 3rd in 2008. Don’t look for Chee or any of the
Warriors to be running with the leaders. They will employ a carefully crafted strategy of pace running. The biggest loss suffered by the Warriors came when Coach Tim Host accepted a teaching and coaching position at Rio Rancho High School.

2. Pecos, Panthers: Pecos has finished 2nd to Navajo Pine in 3 of the last 4 seasons. This year, the Panthers will be led by their 3rd different coach in 3 seasons. Last year’s 1-2A Coach of the Year, Victor Ortiz, was forced to step down after being elected to the Pecos School Board. He will be replaced by Pecos Basketball Coach, Clyde Sanchez. Sanchez inherits a tough bunch, led by 2 all-state performers in Antonio Varela (10) and Jonathan Torrez (11).

3. Jemez Valley, Warriors: Head Coach Daniel Chinana returns 6 of his top 7 from a squad that finished a distant 3rd in 2008. The Warriors will be led by defending 1-2A champ Troy Madalena. Madalena did not have an impressive track season but he is better known for his skills on the trails.

4. Navajo Prep, Eagles: Historically, the Navajo Prep girls team have shown dominance and the boys have given Eagle fans little to cheer about. But in 2009 Navajo Pine will have 2 legitimate front runners in Dominick Bitsui (12) and Alyson Thompson
(12), who both showed their speed on the track in 2009. Look for the Eagles to challenge for a spot on the podium.

5. Penasco, Panthers: Head Coach Ben Sanchez has a strong group of runners, but overall the team is not as deep as they have been in the last 5 years. Penasco should still challenge for a podium position, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if they are bumped from the top 5 by Santa Fe Prep or Bosque. The Panthers will be led by Alfred Gonzales, who had a solid 2008-09 school year -- but he will need to step into the leadership role and produce if the Penasco hopes to climb back onto the podium.

On the Bubble: Santa Fe Prep, Bosque, Rehoboth, Mora, Mesa Vista

1. Troy Madalena—JR, Jemez Valley
2. Timmy Chee—SR, Navajo Pine
3. Antonio Varela—SO , Pecos
4. Jonathan Torrez—JR, Pecos
5. Kevin Hardy—FR, Navajo Pine
6. Henrique Chavez—SR, Mora
7. Dominick Bitsui—SR, Navajo Prep
8. Alfred Gonzales, Penasco
9. Alyson Thompson, Navajo Prep
10. Reynaldo “Buster” Balizan, Maxwell

Troy Madalena is the defending champion and enters the season as a favorite to repeat. But there may be some chinks in his armor. He had a sub-par track season and looked sluggish while racing in the summer. But last year, he did start out slow (he was the 4th 1-2A finisher at UNM) and finished dominant. Madalena’s biggest challenge should come from either Tim Chee or Antonio Varela. Fortunately for Madalena; Chee put on 10 pounds of muscle during the summer getting ready for basketball. On the other side of the training regimen, Varela put in a solid summer of training. He has been hungry since his track season was cut short because of disciplinary reasons.



1. Santa Fe Indian School, Braves:
Coach John Grimley’s squad looks like the team to beat in 2009. But it wouldn’t be surprising if they aren’t running like gangbusters in the beginning of the season. SFIS is primarily a boarding school, with team members coming to Santa Fe from a handful of different pueblos, so the team does not get to meet together until the first day of school. On paper, the Braves return their top 6 runners and the runners in the Santa Clara Pueblo running club looked very strong in summer fun runs.

2. Zuni, Thunderbirds: Graduation hit this squad hard but they have a reputation for putting together tough teams every year, regardless of the graduation situation. Head Coach Chris Carroll has a knack of building up runners through the junior varsity teams and bringing them along slowly. As with the Braves; don’t be surprised if the Thunderbirds improve in a steady fashion throughout the season. In 2008 Zuni finished 13th at UNM and improved to the point where they pulled off a surprising victory at Volcano Vista, toward the end of the season, where they defeated Sandia High School.

3. St. Michael's Horsemen: Team leadership and stability left Santa Fe when Fred Baca and Trevor Serrao graduated last fall. But a talented squad is returning for the Horsemen. It will be interesting to see if this group can grow up during the year. Unfortunately for the Horsemen, they will have to grow up during a year where their cross-town competition is seasoned and ready to claim the blue trophy. Coach Lenny Gurule has a knack for having his team ready at state and this year will be a true test of his talent.

4. Pojoaque Elks: It was odd NOT seeing an Elk team standing on the podium at the end of the season. This season should be much different for these “harries from the valley” as they are a year stronger and wiser. Pojoaque showed their youth down the stretch and at state, where they underachieved. In 2009, the Elks return 6 of their top 7 with all of them finishing in the top 50 at state.

5. Hope Christian Huskies: Hope returns one of the best runners in the state in Eric Fenton, but they also graduated 3 of their top 7. Depth may be an issue for the Huskies because of graduation losses AND the addition of football at the school. It is going to be interesting to see how this program is affected by the addition of football. If the team numbers are not down, expect Coach Kyle Skartwed to have his team ready from the first meet.

On the Bubble: Wingate, Sandia Prep, Thoreau

1. Eric Fenton-11 Hope Christian
2. Evan Bekes-11 Bloomfield
3. Xavier DeLaTorre-12 Cobre
4. Justin Bustos-10 Robertson
5. TJ Macallister-11 St. Michael's
6. Santiago Pasquale-10 SFIS
7. Jesse Madalena-10 SFIS
8. Eldred Hooee-12 Zuni
9. Andres Gonzales-10 St. Michael's
10. Daniel Santistevan-11 Pojoaque

In 2008, Evan Bekes looked like the favorite until he faced the hard charging and rapidly improving Dustin Walthal, who went on to capture the 3A title. In 2009 Bekes will enter the season as the underdog to Eric Fenton. Fenton had a fabulous spring and looks like he has grown into his large stride. Both of these kids are very talented and there may not be another 3A harrier within a minute of them on November 7th. If you are looking for a long shot; put your money on the lanky Justin Bustos. Bustos was injured during cross country in 2008 but he rebounded nicely during track. If he continues to improve and he becomes comfortable in his ever expanding frame he could become the 3A version of Pat Zacharias. The two could even have a dunk contest following the state meet.



1. Albuquerque Academy Chargers:
The “Red Army” enters the season ranked 10th in the nation by The Harrier and they look as strong as ever. The team will start the season without Pat Zacharias, who is struggling with a foot injury. This should not affect their dominance of early season meets in New Mexico, but it will be interesting to see how the Chargers run if they are without “Big Z” at Liberty Bell.

2. Los Alamos Hilltoppers: Its hard to say that LA is going to go through a “re-building” year when you look at the team’s track record. But the Hilltoppers only return 2 of their top 7 and, “on pape,r” Academy could put 7 runners in front of their #2. Luckily for Los Alamos, cross country races are not run on paper and the younger harriers wearing green and gold only really know success. Look for Rob and Kathy Hipwood to have their troops ready to race. It just doesn’t look like they will have enough horses to run with Academy this season.

3. Artesia Bulldogs: Coach Marcos Morillon has his entire top 7 returning from 2008, when the Bulldogs finished 5th. The team’s top 5 all finished in the top 50 and they had a pack time of 22 seconds. They probably do not have enough bite to challenge LA for the 2nd, but they are a solid favorite over the rest of the field for 3rd. And with 5 of their top 7 returning in 2010, the Bulldogs could become regulars on the podium.

4. Grants Pirates: Grants was the most improved team in 2008 going from “non-qualifier” to 3rd in one season. This year they will not sneak up on anyone as they return 5 of their top 7. Their experience is sound but they will need their non-scoring runners to improve if they want a shot at returning to the podium. Of their returnees, only 2 of them finished in the top 50.

5. Piedra Vista Panthers: PV finished 4th in 2008 and they return 4 of those runners in 2009. They should be led by junior Jordan Keeley who finished in the top 40 last year. But don’t be surprised if freshman Scott Nall jumps up and becomes the top Panther.

On the Bubble: St. Pius X, Espanola Valley, Shiprock

1. Kyle Pittman-12 Los Alamos
2. Neil Longenbaugh-11 Albuquerque Academy
3. Ryan Clark-12 Albuquerque Academy
4. Pat Zacharias-12 Albuquerque Academy
5. Emmett Wynn-11 Albuquerque Academy
6. Tyler Saiz-11 Del Norte
7. Ian Pulliam-11 Los Alamos
8. Sean Sanchez-11 Grants
9. Derrick Martinez-12 Espanola Valley
10. Whittaney Boyd-11 Kirtland

Kyle Pittman enters the season as a favorite to repeat as individual champion in 4A. His 4:15 1600m run in the spring has put him in a different class as he is now seen as one of the top runners in the southwest region and a possible All-American. With Zacharias on the shelf early in the season, Academy will rely on Neil Longenbaugh and Ryan Clark to give chase. This season may give runners, not wearing RED or GREEN, a solid chance of taking home some hardware. Of that group, Tyler Saiz of Del Norte is the top returnee.



1. Sandia Matadors
: The Matadors return 5 of 7 members from a surprising 2008 squad. Because of this they are the favorites to take home “the Blue” in 2009. Their top 3 (Meyer, Hodge and Padilla) are very strong, but they will need their next 3 to make improvements if they want to win it all. You can bet that Coach Curtis Williams will push them hard to get there.

2. Cibola Cougars: The defending champs are returning a strong trio who could all place in the top 10. The Cougars may not have the depth that they had in the past (they lost 4 of their top 7), but their top runners will score low and Coach Kenny Henry has established his team so the younger runners should be ready to step in. They should be on the podium and it wouldn’t be a surprise if they returned to the top step.

3. Clovis Wildcats: Last year’s fourth place team returns 5 of their top 7 and look ready to make another run at the podium. They will be led by Jaron Morgan, who finished 15th a year ago. The Wildcats will need to have a tight pack it they want to take home a trophy in 2009. Their top 4 returnees were within a 45 second spread at the state meet. Look for them to duplicate that feat throughout the season.

4. Manzano Monarchs: All 7 runners return for a Manzano squad that finished 7th in 2008. The Monarchs are led by All-State harrier Michael Montoya, who finished 10th in 2008 and 3rd in 2007. Manzano will need Montoya to return to his 2007 form if they want to sneak onto the podium in 2009. They will also need improvement from the pack. In 2008, Montoya was the lone Monarch to finish in the top 30.

5. Rio Rancho Rams: The rapidly improving Caleb Rubalcaba will lead the Rams in 2009. Last year, Rubalcaba followed up a 40th-place performance at the state meet with an impressive track season. As a sophomore, Rubalcaba clocked 4:32 and 9:58 in the 1600 and 3200 respectively. The Rams will need significant improvement from their pack if they want to step onto the podium in November. Their performance on the track in the spring shows that they are capable.

1. Vincent Montoya-12 Cibola
2. Christian Meyer-12 Sandia
3. Chris Montoya-12 Cibola
4. Steve Hodge-12 Sandia
5. Caleb Rubalcaba-11 Rio Rancho
6. Michael Montoya-12 Manzano
7. Nicoli Mondragon-11 La Cueva
8. Julian Florez-11 Hobbs
9. Kendall-11 McVey Cibola
10. Jaron Morgin-12 Clovis

You can bet that Vince and Chris Montoya will be charging hard to finish 1-2 at the state meet. Standing in their way could be a quartet of runners that include Christen Meyer, Steven Hodge, Caleb Rubalcaba and Michael Montoya. Meyer had a disappointing track season after he suffered an ankle injury in basketball. If his wheel survived “summer league,” he should be a top contender. Hodge was a surprising all-state runner in 2008 and will be looking to make another leap this season. Michael Montoya is the wild card in this deck. He finished 3rd in cross country in 2007 and he doesn’t really burn up the track.




1. Navajo Pine Warriors
: On paper Navajo Pine looks like a lock to win their 4th 1-2A championship in as many years. The Warriors return a solid nucleus and should be the favorite again in 2009. The team’s success in 2009 will depend on how they overcome off-season departures. The team’s top two runners have graduated, Angeliqui Small (7th in 2008) transferred to Many Farms, AZ and head coach Tim Host is now in Rio Rancho. The Warriors will be led by two fleet freshmen. Shelby Lee and Kaitlin Chee finished 7th and 10th respectively in 2009 and each has amazing potential. The team also returns two other runners who ran at state and finished in the top 25.

2. Santa Fe Prep Griffens: There will be many new faces on the starting line for the Griffens in 2009. Santa Fe Prep lost 5 varsity runners to graduation or transfers. The key transfers were Laura Hamilton (transferred to St. Mikes in January) and Belinda Secular (Santa Fe High). But hope is not lost because the team returns two runners (Jessie Talbert and Tessa Schultz) who could finish in the top 10 and the Griffens have a large and dedicated JV squad. Because of the team’s youth, Head Coach Jody LeFevers plans to run a more “low key” schedule to ready his young harriers for the post season.

3. Tucumcari Rattlers: Head Coach Gary Hittson’s returns all 7 runners off of a squad that finished 4th in 2009. The top 5 returnees all finished in the top 50, but they will need to move their pack up the leader board if they want a spot on the podium. Tucumcari’s top runner should be Keanette Perkins (17th in 2009 and a state qualifier in the 800m run). With all of the departures in 1-2A it looks like the Rattlers have an excellent opportunity to earn a trophy.

4. Navajo Prep Eagles: Another coaching change will affect the 1-2A scene as Lenny Esson accepted the College of Dine position this summer. Rumor has it that Esson will attempt to help the Eagles during the transition. Only time will tell how that situation will affect the squad. On the trail the Eagles return a trio of runners who can flat out fly. Amber Reano (14th in XC), Kristen Tallis (33rd) and Shelby Tracy (13:50 3200 this spring) could all finish in the top 20, giving Navajo Prep a solid shot at the podium.

5. Jemez Valley Warriors: The Warriors finished 6th a year ago and have the firepower to make a run at the podium in 2009. Jemez Valley returns 5 runners, including 3 (Dominique Casiquito, Alecxandria Magdalena and Kalainia Wquie) who could finish in the top 20. But the Warriors are not very deep. To contend for a trophy, Head Coach Danny Chinana will need to get some improvement out of his #4 and #5 runners or the team could see a pack time over 4 minutes.

On the Bubble: Rehoboth, Bosque, East Mountain

1. Caroline Kaufman-10 East Mountain
2. Madeleine Carey-12 Bosque School
3. Hailey Lucero-10 Mesa Vista
4. Shelby Lee-9 Navajo Pine
5. Kaitlin Chee-9 Navajo Pine
6. Jessie Talbert-10 Santa Fe Prep
7. Georgia Kaufman-11 East Mountain
8. Amber Reano-10 Navajo Prep
9. Meagan Joe-9 Rehoboth Christian
10. Miquella Marrujo-10 Mora

Caroline Kaufman will be the overwhelming favorite in 2009. Last season Kaufman won by over 75 seconds and she easily captured 2 more blue medals in track (1600 & 3200). The challenge for Kaufman may be to measure herself with the best runners in the state. Leading the charge behind Kaufman will be Madeleine Carey and Hailey Lucero. Lucero has a history of going out strong and fading. If Lucero employs the same strategy this season, look for Carey to catch her late in the race as she did during the 3200m run at the State Track Championships. Both Shelby Lee and Kaitlin Chee have the talent to finish in the top 3. How they adjust to their new coach will determine how successful they are in 2009. Sabrina Lee could be a wild card. The Estancia senior has run some impressive track times in the past and has the ability to finish in the top 5.



1. St Michael’s Horsemen
: The Horsemen have won the last four 3Astate championships and they enter the 2009 season as the favorite to “5-peat.” St. Michael’s returns 5 of their state runners from a year ago, plus they have added some fresh legs to their stable. Head Coach Lenny Gurule enters the season with the biggest roster he has ever had. Don’t be surprised if the Horsemen aren’t blazing out of the gates. Gurule’s squads have usually started slow as they “train through” early season meets.

2. Zuni Thunderbirds: During the last couple of seasons the girls from Zuni have suffered through some tough close calls. Coach Chris Carroll’s squad has been within 5 points of defeating St. Michael’s, but they have not been able to get over the hump. Could this be the season Zuni takes home the blue trophy? It’s possible. The Thunderbirds return 6 runners from the state team and they posses the deepest sub-varsity roster in 3A. Zuni will be led by junior Leann Lee, who finished 8th a year ago. If they have aspirations of claiming the top spot on the podium they will need to move up as a pack.

3. Miyamura Patriots: The Patriots return all of their runners from a team that placed a distant third in 2008. Felicia James and Brandi Garnenez will lead a squad that had three girls in the top 20 and seven in the top 50. Miyamura has an excellent shot at upsetting both Zuni and St. Michael’s; but they will need improvement from their #4 and #5 runners. You can’t win state in 3A and have scorers in the 30s.

4. Santa Fe Indian School Braves: In any other year, SFIS would be licking their chops. The Braves return 6 of 7 (all of which were in the top 50) and their top 2 runners were in the top 10 (Marlinda Pecos and Olivia Mermejo). But this year ascending to the podium is a task equal to ascending Mt. McKinley on a clear day.

5. Wingate Bears: Dianne Duboise and Lighfeather Jack give the Bears a lethal 1-2 punch, but the supporting cast is not deep enough to contend with the elite in 3A. Even though Wingate is a long shot, don’t count them out completely. Head Coach Tony Notah has been known to surprise teams at the state meet with a fresh and confident team capable of stealing position from a favorite.

On the Bubble: Laguna-Acoma

1. Kate Norskog-11 St. Michael's
2. Marlinda Pecos-12 SFIS
3. Sophia Torres-12 Pojoaque
4. Leann Lee-10 Zuni
5. Felicia James-10 Miyamura
6. Oliviva Mermejo-12 SFIS
7. Brandi Garnenez-11 Miyamura
8. Dianne Duboise-11 Wingate
9. Jamie Velasquez-12 St. Michael's
10. Melissa Saavedra-10 Laguna-Acoma

It is hard to believe that Kate Norskog is NOT a senior. The St. Mike’s Junior has won 2 of the last 3 individual championships in 3A and has also collected numerous blue medals in the middle distance events in track. Even though she faces a tough group of runners, who will be gunning for her, she remains an overwhelming favorite to win her 3rd cross country championship. Leading the charge after “Killer” Kate will be Marlinda Pecos and Sophia Torres. Torres has a cross country state championship (2007), but she looked sluggish throughout the spring track season. Pecos burst to the front of the pack in 2008 and has the strength to finish in the top 3.



1. Albuquerque Academy Chargers
: The Chargers are in a dominating position. They return all of the runners from a squad that posted an 8 point victory over a tough field. And two of those runners own individual blue medals (Clara Milne 2008 and
Julia Foster 2009). On paper, it looks like Head Coach Claudia Bergsohn may have a sure thing, but 4A is deep and injuries can change the landscape quickly.

2. Belen Eagles: Head Coach Joseph Garcia was dealt a tough hand last year. In 2008 he had his girls in perfect shape to repeat (Belen won in 2007), but then the team’s #1 runner suffered a stress fracture that ended her season. This year, Aleona Reyes is back. She is healthy and she will be joined by 7 runners who finished 4th without her a year ago. The group also includes 3 runners that finished in the top 15 (Tayler Hendren 6th, Shaylenne Chavez 11th and Lacy Smith 14th).

3. Los Alamos Hilltoppers: The Hilltoppers have been the most dominant team in the 2000s, claiming 5 titles in the last 8 years. The last was in 2006. Los Alamos will need some solid improvement if they want to take a shot at Academy and Belen in 2009. The squad does have the potential. They return 5 runners who finished in the top 50. The team should be led by Megan Reader (5th in 2008) and Holly Walker (17th in 2008 and 2nd in 2007). Head Coaches Rob and Kathy Hipwood are also excited as the school district has added cross country as a middle school sport. So don’t be surprised if LA adds a quick 8th grader by the middle of the season.

4. St. Pius X Sartans: Last season, St. Pius capped off a stellar season with an amazing state performance that resulted in a runner-up trophy. Four of those girls have since graduated, leaving the 2009 version of the Sartans with the #2, #5 and #7 runners off of last year’s squad. With Academy, Belen and Los Alamos all returning most of their varsity rosters, it looks like St. Pius X has an uphill climb if they want to return to the podium. But luckily this squad has more than a wing and a prayer. On the course, the Sartans will be led by senior Gael Sanchez. From the sidelines, they will be led by Head Coach Jeff Turcotte, who can always inspire with his positive attitude.

5. Kirtland Central Broncos: Amanda Kerr and Myka Benally give the Broncos a dangerous 1-2 punch as the pair finished 9th and 10th respectively in 2008. But the Kirtland Central squad falls off dramatically after that. The Broncos should have enough talent to hold off the field and finish in the top 5, but they don’t have the horses to run to the podium.

On the Bubble: Shiprock, Artesia, Piedra Vista

1. Julia Foster-11, Albuquerque Academy
2. Clara Milne-12, Albuquerque Academy
3. Aleona Reyes-12, Belen
4. Anna Olesinski-10 Roswell
5. Holly Walker-12, Los Alamos
6. Tayler Hendren-10 Belen
7. Amanda Kerr-12 Kirtland
8. Megan Reader-11 Los Alamos
9. Megan Dunlap-10 Albuquerque Academy
10. Myka Benally-11 Kirtland

Julia Foster was the most decorated distance runner in the 2008-09 school year. After finishing a disappointing 4th in cross country, Foster claimed state titles in the 1600 and 3200m runs and she just missed ‘triple gold’ when she was edged by her teammate (Paige Throckmorton) in the 800m. Clara Mile was the most dominant runner during the 2008 cross country season. But she has not had much success since. This makes her a question mark for 2009. But if she returns to form, she will be the top runner in the state. Currently it doesn’t look like anyone can run with Academy’s top 2, but surprises always surface with young girls.



1. La Cueva Bears
: Last season was turbulent for the Bears as they lost their head coach midway through the season. At that time Nick Martinez took the job on an interim basis and has since been given full control. With his steadying hand, La Cueva looks like a serious threat in 5A. The Bears return 5 runners who helped them take home the runner-up trophy a year ago. Senior Erica Firebaugh should lead the team. Erica finished in the top 5 a year ago and now has the experience to make a run at a higher place. The Bears also received a shot in the arm when 800m ace Carly Porter joined the cross country squad to add depth. Experience and depth make La Cueva the favorite in 5A.

2. Rio Rancho Rams: The landscape has changed drastically for the Rams since they hoisted the state championship trophy last November. Aside from graduation losses, the team is without head coach Larry Chavez Jr. (Department of Defense job in Germany), Alana Littleford (Cleveland) and Sara DiGiovanni (injured and transferred to Cleveland). But the team does have some arrivals that will keep them a contender in 2009. Head Coach Tim Host has since moved in from Navajo Pine where he was wildly successful. He has brought with him an enthusiasm that has led to improved performance by many of the girls. Rio Rancho also has one of the best 1-2 punches in 5A with Jenna Padilla and Tamara Lementino. The Rams will need good leadership and improvement from an undefeated JV squad to help them defend their title.

3. Gallup Bengals: The 2009 Bengals return 5 runners from a squad that finished 3rd in 2008. Head Coach Galen Martinez has an excellent front runner in Alexandra Gillson and a pack of runners who will finish strong. Gallup looks like a strong contender to make it back to the podium.

4. Sandia Matadors: Sandia returns 6 runners from 2008 when the team finished 4th overall. Two of those runners (Katie Jewel and Carly Northrup) ran sub-20:00 at state and they could both make the jump into the top 10 in 2009. The rest of the Matador pack is strong and with improvement can help the team reach the podium.

5. Eldorado Eagles: Going into the 2008 season; Eldorado was the favorite to take home the 5A state championship. Injuries turned a state championship favorite into a 6th place squad at the end of the year. One year later, the Eagles have a new coach (Theo Cutter replaces Jimmy Butler) and they see themselves as underdogs. The Eagles have 4 runners that ran at state a year ago, but if they are planning on a resurgence they will need to see some improvement or some new runners will have to emerge.

On the Bubble: Cibola, Los Lunas, Albuquerque High,

1. Kristy Hannah-12 Eldorado
2. Erica Firebaugh-12 La Cueva
3. Jenna Padilla-12 Rio Rancho
4. Tamara Lementino-11 Rio Rancho
5. Alana Littleford-9 Cleveland
6. Kate Jewel-11 Sandia
7. Alexandra Gillson-12 Gallup
8. Gaby Ellison-11 Cibola
9. Jordan Grace-11 La Cueva
10. Kendra Lente-09 Los Lunas

In 2008 Kristy Hannah realized her potential when she finished 2nd in 5A. She returns as the favorite, but since she doesn’t compete in distance races during the track season, her fitness is always a question mark. In fact, none of the returnees had a dominating track season, making this an interesting division to watch. Erica Firebaugh, Tamara Lementino and Alana Littleford all had solid cross country seasons in 2008 and they should be right on Hannah’s heels. Jenna Padilla is much improved and is the dark horse that I would put my money on.

New Mexico Track & Cross Country Coaches Association Pre-Season Poll

Small School (1A-3A) Boys TOP 10
1. SFIS 3A (8) 92
2. St. Mikes 3A (1) 84
3. Navajo Pine 1-2A 77
4. Zuni 3A (1) 71
5. Hope 3A 49
6. Pojoaque 3A 48
7. Jemez Valley 1-2A 47
8. Pecos 1-2A 46
9. Penasco 1-2A 17
10. Laguna-Acoma 3A 8
Also Receiving Votes: Wingate 6, Santa Fe Prep 2, Navajo Prep 2, Miyamura 1

Small School (1A-3A) Girls TOP 10
1. St. Mikes 3A (6) 96
2. Zuni 3A (2) 79
3. Myamura 3A (2) 76
4. Navajo Pine 1-2A 71
5. SFIS 3A 54
6. Santa Fe Prep 1-2A 41
7. Navajo Prep 1-2A 30
8. Pojoaque 3A 28
9. Hope 3A 27
10. Wingate 3A 20
Also Receiving Votes: Laguna-Acoma 14, West Las Vegas 12, Pecos 1, Cobre

Big School (4A-5A) Boys TOP 10

1. Academy 4A (10) 108
2. Sandia 5A (1) 93
3. Cibola 5A 91
4. Los Alamos 4A 74
5. Rio Rancho 5A 70
6. Gallup 5A 50
7. Clovis 5A 37
8. Manzano 5A 33
9. La Cueva 5A 13
10. St. Pius X 4A 7
Also Receiving Votes: Los Lunas 6, Eldorado 6, Grants 6, Hobbs 5, Artesia 2, Piedra Vista 1

4A-5A Girls TOP 10
1. Academy 4A (10) 109
2. La Cueva 5A 93
3. Rio Rancho 5A 85
4. Gallup 5A 64
5. Los Alamos 4A (1) 62
6. Belen 4A 54
7. Sandia 5A 36
8. Eldorado 5A 35
9. St. Pius X 4A 27
10. Cibola 5A 16
Also Receiving Votes: Albuquerque High 12, Los Lunas 6, Kirtland Central 2, Cleveland 1