By George Morse
Small School Races at Rio Rancho Packed with Runners
Cross country coaches like to get their teams ready for state by entering them in a few big meets during the season so they can learn how to run in a crowded field of runners. At the Rio Rancho Jamboree cross country meet Oct. 19 at Rio Rancho, the participants in the boys and girls small school races learned how to run in a mob of runners.
The boys small school race was particularly crowded, with 205 runners and 28 teams competing in the race. The girls small school race was a bit more manageable with 147 runners and 18 teams. High schools from Class A through Class 3A competed in the small school races.
Among local high schools, the most encouraging result was that of the Penasco High School girls team, which managed to negotiate the field and finish third in the team standings with 90 points. The Lady Panthers were actually tied for second place with Wingate High School and it was the sixth runner for Wingate that proved to be the difference. Both Wingate and Penasco were just a point away from first-place Crownpoint High School, which finished with 89 points.
Penasco had known great success in past years at state. The Lady Panthers won state championships in 2016 and 2017. Penasco was third in 2015. That streak of trips to the awards podium ended last season. Competing in an expanded field in Class A-2A, Penasco finished fourth just four points away from third place.
The Lady Panthers have been led the last five years by Carly Gonzales. Now a senior, Gonzales was state champion in 2015 and 2017, while finishing second in 2016. In 2018, she again earned all-state honors, but barely. Gonzales finished 10th overall against an expanded field of Class A-2A teams.
This season, she can become one of those rare athletes who earn all-state honors for five years in a row. In the process, she hopes to lead her team back to the awards podium.
At this year’s Jamboree, Gonzales was 10th overall with a time of 22 minutes, 33 seconds. However, seven of the runners ahead of her were from Class 3A schools. Following Gonzales across the finish line for Penasco was Maricela MacAuley, who came in 13th with a time of 22 minutes, 43 seconds. Charnelle Gonzales came in 20th for Penasco and Elisha Mustache was 26th. Adrianna Montoya was the Panthers’ fifth runner, coming in 43rd.
Because Wingate and Penasco were tied with 90 points apiece after their first five runners had crossed the finish line, it was the sixth runner who would break the tie. Wingate’s
Tenara Morgan finished 47th for Wingate. Penasco’s Jennifer Aguilar came in 55th. Wingate took second place.
Wingate was paced by individual champion Jewels Leslie, who came in first with a time of 20 minutes, 32 seconds. Octivia Long came in eighth for the Lady Bears. Farrah Chavez finished 22nd and Erica Yazzie came in 40th for Wingate. Riley Ahasteen was Wingate’s fifth runner in 44th place.
Crownpoint was paced by Tyra Tsosie, who came in second overall with a time of 20 minutes, 58 seconds. Janaya Tom came in ninth for Crownpoint. Kayleigh Shorty and Candace Vandever finished back-to-back with Shorty coming in 14th and Vandever 15th overall. It was a long gap to Crownpoint’s fifth runner, Della Charley. She came in 67th. It was just enough to edge past Wingate and Penasco by a single point.
McCurdy Charter School coach Chris Sanchez was encouraged by his team’s finish in the girls small school race. The Lady Bobcats were 10th overall with 249 points, but were fourth among the Class A-2A schools. Sanchez believes his team has a shot at finishing among the top five teams at state.
Pacing McCurdy was senior Jayme Bustos, who came in 37th with a time of 23 minutes, 59 seconds. Allison Cantrell finished 56th for McCurdy. Jeneva Serrano and Emma Lovato finished in nearly a dead heat in 62nd place, with Serrano edging ahead. Isabella Espinoza was the Lady Bobcats’ fifth runner, coming in 88th.
Missy Yordy was 92nd and Adriana Maestas 103rd for McCurdy.
The McCurdy boys team has some good news. Coach Sanchez was able to find a fifth runner to give the Bobcats a full team. McCurdy has an excellent chance to send a boys team to state as a result. The top six teams from each of the four Class A-2A districts in the state will advance to the state championships. Eighth-grader Adrian Trujillo recently joined the varsity team to give McCurdy five runners.
Kodi Rodriguez paced McCurdy, coming in 90th with a time of 20 minutes, 57 seconds. Close behind him, as usual, was Isaiah Abeyta, who finished 93rd. Josh Serrano was 146th for McCurdy. Trujillo came in 194th and Joaquin Suazo 200th to give the Bobcats a score of 637 points. The Bobcats finished 25th.
Penasco finished in 20th place in the boys small school race with 574 points. The Panthers were paced by Elias Archibeque, who finished 66th with a time of 20 minutes, 27 seconds. Matias Vigil came in 129th and Chaske Badash-Dyer was 135th for Penasco. Donivan Aguilar was 151st and Penasco’s fifth runner, Lucian Badash-Dyer, was 162nd.
Dulce High School came in 17th with 498 points. Isaiah Reval paced the Hawks, coming in 34th with a time of 19 minutes, 34 seconds. Jamie Tafoya came in 110th for Dulce. Kai Cassador was 118th and DeAndre Gonzales 130th for the Hawks. Dulce’s fifth runner was Braiden Irwin, who finished 166th.
Not running as part of a team and trying to qualify for state as individuals are Mesa Vista High School’s Damian Trujillo and Danny Gollas. Trujillo finished 21st with a time of 19 minutes, .5 seconds. Gollas was 30th in 19 minutes, 27 seconds. Both look to have solid chances of qualifying for state.
In the team standings, two schools from the neighboring state of Arizona finished first and third. Many Farms High School from the Navajo Indian Reservation took first place with 105 points. Alchesay High School from the Fort Apache Indian Reservation took third with 151 points. Many Farms was led by Quintyler Yazzie, who finished sixth with a time of 18 minutes, 16 seconds. Brian Quintero was Alchesay’s top runner, coming in 13th with a time of 18 minutes, 42 seconds.
In second place between the two Arizona high schools was Santa Fe Prep School with 124 points. Gabe Cordova and Joshua Abeyta paced the Griffins, finishing 15th and 16th, respectively. Both had a time of 18 minutes, 51 seconds.