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Southwest Team
Race Notes

Battle for New Mexico spills onto Portland Meadows
Los Alamos over Albuquerque in the final matchup

DyeStat Southwest editor Sal Gonzales' post-race wrap-up of SW teams at NTN.

Boys - Girls


Los Alamos XC (Los Alamos NM)
2nd place - 125 points

11 Pittman, Allen            08 Los Alamos XC Club     16:33.1   11
18 Gilna, Gareth 09 Los Alamos XC Club 16:39.9 18
19 Pittman, Kyle 10 Los Alamos XC Club 16:40.5 19
20 Bowidowicz, Tom 08 Los Alamos XC Club 16:40.5 20
59 Witherell, Tom 08 Los Alamos XC Club 17:13.4 59
123 Hemphill, Kevin 09 Los Alamos XC Club 17:53.8 123
141 Vierra, Andrew 09 Los Alamos XC Club 18:13.7 141
Albuquerque XC (Albuquerque Academy NM)
3rd place - 127 points
3 Johnson, Benjamin         08 Albuqerque XC Club     16:20.7    3
12 Zacharais, Patrick 10 Albuqerque XC Club 16:33.2 12
26 Clark, Ryan 10 Albuqerque XC Club 16:50.1 26
44 Murray, Taylor 09 Albuqerque XC Club 17:05.8 44
49 Cooper, Kyle 08 Albuqerque XC Club 17:08.2 49
129 Campbell, Damon 09 Albuqerque XC Club 18:00.5 129
152 Lauriello, Anthony 09 Albuqerque XC Club 18:34.4 152

Los Alamos and Albuquerque Battle again!!

The best rivalry in high school cross country produced another exiting story as the Los Alamos XC Club (Los Alamos NM) was able to defeat the Albuquerque XC Club (Albuquerque Academy NM), 127-134, for 2nd at NTN. The winning team, Naperville XC Club, finished just ahead of the pair of New Mexico squads with a score of 125. Geographically these two schools are only separated by about 100 miles, but this was the third time they traveled more than 500 miles to compete against each other. This season the two squads have faced off 7 times with Albuquerque holding the 5-2 advantage. But the two victories for Los Alamos will leave a lasting impression for decades to come.

The Los Alamos XC Club almost walked away from Portland Meadows with the National Championship. With the pain of the race long since removed from their lungs and legs, the “LA Boys” will ponder the possibilities of passing one more guy. But the expressions and body language at the end of the meet showed that they left their blood and guts on the soggy turf. Los Alamos was led by the 11th place performance of Allan Pittman, who was able to sneak by the lanky Pat Zacharias at the finish line after the pair drove toward the finish line stride for stride for the last 200m.

A scant 7 seconds later, the next three Los Alamos club members crossed the line in Gareth Gilna (18th), Kyle Pittman (19th), and Tom Bowidowicz (20th). The key member in that troika was Bowidowicz. Over the last month the senior has made huge strides toward the front of the Los Alamos pack. In the first meet of the season, Bowidowicz finished as the team’s #7 runner and was more than a minute behind the team’s #1. He followed up that performance with an 82nd place performance at the UNM meet where he was once again the team’s #7.

After Saturday’s race, Bowidowicz discussed how he started conservatively by, “going out at my normal pace and then at the lake I started picking people off. When I got up to Allen, I knew we had a shot.” It was Bowidowicz’s big race that gave LA a shot at a National Championship at all.

For the Albuquerque XC Club, the day was bittersweet. But the result of reaching the podium had a sweet taste that will stay strong for years, as Albuquerque XC reached the goal they had set in the summer. The Red Army was led by its perennial All-American Ben Johnson, who finished 3rd overall.

Like his teammates, BenJo had big goals going into this race and from the starting cannon he set on accomplishing those goals. During the first loop of the course, Johnson trailed fellow All-American Colby Lowe and Chris Derrick. It was during that loop that Johnson’s face showed that he was on “Tilt” and going for broke against the talented pair. As the threesome scooted past the starting line and headed toward the 2nd set of hay bales; Derrick and Lowe opened up a small gap. From this point to the end of the race BenJo was forced to run alone with the glaring fact that he could not catch the top pair and that he had to hold off the rushing pack.

Just behind that chase pack was the daunting 6’5” frame of Pat Zacharias. P-Zach had learned the lessons of a performance at the Southwest Regional where he saw almost a dozen runners move past him over the last half of the race. “Last week I got carried away, so Doc pulled me over this week, told me I could be top 10 and we set out a plan.” This week, it was to lock onto Allan Pittman for the first loop and then make a strong push over the second loop. This week, his race plan worked, almost to perfection, as the gentle giant was able to finish 12th.

For Albuquerque, the performance of the day came from sophomore Ryan Clark, who was running in his first NTN. Earlier in the week, he looked like a deer caught in headlights as he entered the Tiger Woods Center at the Nike Campus. Who would have known that he had his eyes wide open in anticipation oft the race of his life? Earlier in the week, Clark’s high school Coach Adam Kedge stated that he thought that “there is another all American on this team and maybe this weekend he will show his face.”

That future All-American may be Clark, who used a conservative start to ready himself for a fantastic charge over the last loop and finish 26th. The opposite could be said of Taylor Murray, who got out strong and then hung on. “I started off strong, so I didn’t have to work hard on the last ‘K.’ When Clark gave me a pat on my arm, I knew that we were going to do well and then he was gone.” Murray finished 44th in a hard fought pack.


Fort Collins XC (Fort Collins CO)

7th place – 241 points

22 Reyna, Lisa               10 Fort Collins RC        19:53.4   22
25 Benzel, Miranda 09 Fort Collins RC 19:58.4 25
40 Viger, Rachel 10 Fort Collins RC 20:18.3 40
56 Ogan, Cassandra 09 Fort Collins RC 20:34.6 56
98 Follett, Kirsten 10 Fort Collins RC 21:11.6 98
124 Follett, Kelsey 08 Fort Collins RC 21:59.4 124
148 Chilson, Denise 10 Fort Collins RC 23:01.8 148


Fort Collins Coach/Chaperone Chris Suppes remarked earlier in the week that he believed that “there is not much difference between the top 3-10 teams in the nation” and if his girls ran well he expected that they would finish “in the top 10.”

Suppes looked extremely pleased as his girls gathered in their team tent following the race, as he explained how the race broke down with the kilometer-by-kilometer splits. Most of the girls had no idea how the race went because they were locked into their particular battles. But one runner had a great view of the race as she steadily moved up throughout. Tati Ogan, a self proclaimed “half-miler turned cross country runner,” used her come from behind strategy perfectly to finish 56th overall and #4 for Fort Collins.

In the beginning Ogan believed that she started too slowly. “I almost got worried, because there were so many girls ahead of me.” But she calmed down and “started passing people over the 2nd K.” But it was over the last 1000m that she really moved on the pack. “I felt awesome over the last k.”

All of the girls were happy with the performance of the team. As Lisa Reyna put it, “the whole team worked really hard all season and we deserve this, it feels really good to be top 10.”

Reyna had high individual aspirations going into the race but she seemed pleased with her 22nd-place performance. The Fort Collins team did not jump out to a great start as they were not one of the top 10 teams over the first 1000m. Miranda Benzel attributed this to the team’s poor start. “I didn’t realize the race was going to start, so I was really discombobulated when the gun went off and it took me a while to get into the race.” Once she got into the race she was floating as the junior moved up well and finished 25th overall. All top 5 scoring members return for Fort Collins so look out for this squad again in 2008.

Davis XC (Davis UT)
9th place – 281 points
16 Haws, Natalie             08 Davis XC Club          19:40.0   16
29 Eddy, Candace 09 Davis XC Club 20:01.9 29
62 Wirthlin, Julianne 09 Davis XC Club 20:41.0 62
83 Storey, Lauren 08 Davis XC Club 20:58.5 83
91 Hansen, Emily 10 Davis XC Club 21:03.1 91
116 Hedquist, Meghan 11 Davis XC Club 21:42.7 116
141 Swanson, Katie 09 Davis XC Club 22:33.5 141


The Davis XC Club had special motivation to finish in the top 10 this weekend. Their coach/chaperone Corbin Talley promised a dive into the muddy puddle/lake if the girls could crack the top 10. As the girls left Portland Meadows, they were too spent to even enjoy the promise made by their young coach and thus it went unfulfilled. All week the Davis girls personified the spirit of NTN by thoroughly taking in every moment. The girls bubbled with excitement as each day brought new adventures. They looked like a team “just happy to be here.” But when the cannon exploded to start the race, the nation saw the business side of the Davis XC Club.

The rapid start of the championship race took the Davis girls by surprise. As Corbin Talley stated, “we did not get out well. We wanted to get out strong and then stay in control.” They did neither as the race reached the first kilometer mark, Davis was not in the top 10 as a team and their top two were “in the 30s and 50s,” recalled Talley. They would have to scramble through the crowd and the muck to get into control.

Natalie Haws used the course as her inspiration to run fast as she thought that the course “was fun and kinda hard at the same time. It was hard to get your footing.” It must not have been too hard for the senior as she finished 16th place overall. Most of the Davis girls had the same feelings about the course. Julianne Wirthlin stated that she “felt pretty strong, and I pushed it as best as I could. I thought it was a pretty fun course.”.

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