The Mesa Vista boys cross country team took first place at Penasco. Team members are: Brian Gollas (left),Damian Trujillo, Anthony Vigil, Alejandro Trujillo, Daniel Gollas, Frankie Ortiz, Sundeep Taniguchi. Photo courtesy of John Denne
Mesa Vista XC Dominates At Penasco Meet
By George Morse Sports and Outdoors
The Mesa Vista boys cross country team stood on the awards podium Nov. 7, 2015 at the New Mexico Activities Association State Cross Country Meet where they received the state championship trophy as Class 1A-2A state champions. It was the first state cross country championship trophy in the history of the small high school in Ojo Caliente.
“It was something I’ll never forget,” then sophomore Brian Gollas said. “It was something each of us should be proud of.”
With six of the seven members of last year’s state championship team returning this season, Mesa Vista is working towards returning from state with another first-place trophy this season.
“We’re pushing each other to get faster as a team and as individuals,” Brian Gollas said. “To believe in ourselves.”
The Trojans showed that they are ready to defend their title at their first meet of the 2016 season Aug. 27 at Penasco, taking first place with a low score of 32 points. Moriarty High School was a distant second, scoring 67 points. Maxwell High School was third with 69 points.
Leading the way for Mesa Vista was now-junior Brian Gollas, who took first place with a time of 18 minutes, 18 seconds over the three-mile course. He was seventh overall at state last season. He began running cross country as a freshman.
“Ben Sandoval (former Mesa Vista Coach) got me into it,” Brian Gollas said. “I liked it.”
Senior Sundeep Taniguchi finished fourth overall at Penasco for the Trojans. He barely missed finishing in the top 10 runners at state last season, coming in 12th overall. The top 10 runners at state earn All-State honors.
“I fell at the finish last year,” Taniguchi said. “I was that close to top 10. I’m going for it this year, but the team comes first.”
Freshman Daniel Gollas, Brian Gollas’ younger brother, was eighth overall at Penasco. He was 17th at state running as an eigth-grader. Brian Gollas is responsible for his brother being on the team.
Mesa Vista’s Brian Gollas leads the pack at the Penasco Invitational cross country race held Saturday. He would win the varsity race with a time of 18:18.66, helping his team to a first place finish, too. Photo courtesy of John Denne
“He (Brian Gollas) forced me to do it,” Daniel Gollas said. “I liked it.”
Finishing ninth overall at Penasco for the Trojans was sophomore Anthony Vigil, who was 27th at state last season. Rounding out the top five runners for Mesa Vista was junior Frankie Ortiz, who came in 10th at Penasco. Ortiz was 19th at state last season.
Freshman Damian Trujillo was 14th at Penasco and freshman Alejandro Trujillo was 28th for Mesa Vista.
Mesa Vista Coach Jennifer Espinoza was in her first season when she led the Trojans to the state championship. She took over the program after long-time Mesa Vista Coach Ben Sandoval retired following the 2014-2015 school year. Her son, James Espinoza, had run for Coach Sandoval and led the Trojans to a third-place finish at state in 2014. Not wanting the program to falter, she applied for the position despite little experience with coaching cross country.
“I read a lot,” she said. “I have them run by time rather than distance. They run for 40 minutes.”
Last year’s state championship showed that there were other sports besides basketball, which traditionally has been THE sport at Mesa Vista. The community held a parade last season for the cross country team.
“It motivated the parents and helped the community in a good way,” Coach Espinoza said.
In the girls varsity race at Penasco, host Penasco High School took first place with 32 points. Moriarty was second and Mesa Vista was third. Penasco’s Carly Gonzales took first place with a time of 21 minutes 28 seconds.
For Mesa Vista, sophomore Abrianna Griego took seventh place and junior Maryssa Martin was ninth. Sophomore Aubrianna Martinez was 19th. Seniors Consuelo Ortiz and Jenae Espinoza were 25th and 26th, respectively.
Showing how deep their program is, Mesa Vista took first place in the junior varsity race with a perfect score of 15 points. Jose Trujillo was first for the Trojans. Charles Buezo was second, Jessie Broyles third, Kyle Campos fourth and Augustine Campos fifth for Mesa Vista. Only 10 runners were entered in the junior varsity boys race and just two girls competed.
Pojoaque Valley Middle School won the 7th-8th grade boys race with a score of 19 points. Pecos Middle school was second and McCurdy Charter School third.
Pojoaque’s Santiago Romero took first for Pojoaque with a time of nine minutes, 20 seconds over the 1.8 mile course. Zack Hall was second and Andrew Garcia third for the Elks. Cole Hughes was sixth and Lucas Tiede seventh for Pojoaque
For McCurdy, Andres Davis-Martinez came in 14th overall. Kodi Rodriguez was 28th, Carlos Grajeda 31st, Ian Vallo 33rd and Joaquin Suazo 45th for the Bobcats.
In the girls middle school race, Pecos High School took first place, Memorial Middle School from Las Vegas was second and Academy of Technology and the Classics was third. Pecos’ Alexis Gonzales took first place.
Pojoaque Middle School competed at Penasco. Jessica Roybal was 14th for the Elkettes. Anika Dobra19th, Jade Montalvo 20th, Romero 21st and Marisa Martinez 22nd for Pojoaque
For McCurdy Charter School, Mariza Vasquez was 17th overall. Allison Cantrell was 22nd, Emma Lovato 23rd, Isabella Espinoza 42nd and Araya Cordova 45th for the Lady Bobcats.
Mesa Vista’s Annaliese Pena was the Lady Trojans top finisher in 43rd place.