The start of the boys varsity race at the Los Alamos Invitational cross country meet Oct. 26 at the Los Alamos Golf Course (photo by Chris Roybal).
By George Morse Sports and Outdoors
It’s was a challenging week for Pojoaque Valley High School cross country coach Alan Lockridge. Not only was he having to deal with losing his top runner on the girls team and being without one of his top runners on the boys team, but the season was reaching crunch time. With the District 2-4A meet coming up Nov. 2 that would be hosted by Pojoaque and the State cross country meet Nov. 10 at Rio Rancho, Lockridge was uncertain about what he’d have at the final regular season meet Oct. 26 at Los Alamos.
Pojoaque’s top girl runner, junior Amerie Onesalt, has been injured since the John Grimley Invitational meet Oct. 13 and will likely miss the District 2-4A meet. Lockridge was also without his reliable fifth runner, junior Alicia Sanchez, who was sick. Lockridge moved up some young junior varsity runners on to the girls varsity team at Los Alamos.
On the boys side, sophomore Zach Hall, normally a reliable third or fourth runner for the Elks, was injured and not running at Los Alamos. On the plus side, junior Sebastian Rubio could devote his full attention to cross country now that the soccer season was over. Here again, Lockridge moved up some younger runners to the varsity at Los Alamos.
Some more challenges definitely lay ahead, but the Elks and Elkettes held their own at Los Alamos.
The boys team finished a solid fifth in the team standings with 140 points. Just as he has done all season, senior John Hall led the way for the Elks. Hall finished eighth overall with a time of 16 minutes, 54.25 seconds. Hall, who finished fifth at last year’s Class 3A state cross country meet, is aiming at earning All-State honors for the second straight year. All-State honors are awarded to the top 10 finishers in each race at state.
Despite having to face increased competition against runners from Los Alamos High School, Albuquerque Academy and Kirtland Central High School once Pojoaque moved up from Class 3A to Class 4A, Hall has a legitimate chance to achieve that goal. He was the seventh runner from a Class 4A school to finish at Los Alamos.
Following Hall across the finish line for Pojoaque was sophomore Santiago Romero, who finished 26th with a time of 18 minutes, 22.26 seconds. Right behind Romero came Pojoaque junior Joseph Gutierrez,, who was 27th with a time of 18 minutes, 23.11 seconds. Not far behind Romero and Gutierrez was Rubio, who came in 33rd with a time of 18 minutes, 51.42 seconds.
Pojoaque’s fifth runner was one of the Elks’ precocious freshmen. Isiah Roybal came in 48th with a time of 19 minutes, 33.22 seconds.
The loss of Onesalt to injury is a big one for the Elkettes, as she was Pojoaque’s top runner consistently throughout the season. The Elkettes had a bit of a struggle at Los Alamos, coming in 10th in the team standings with 256 points. What was encouraging for Lockridge was the performance of his younger runners.
Junior Michaela Martinez led the way for the Elkettes, coming in 42nd with a time of 22 minutes, 50.63 seconds. Junior Mia Vigil was next, coming in 51st with a time of 23 minutes, 31.13 seconds. One of the younger runners that Lockridge likes was a surprise third runner for the Elkettes. Eighth-grader Ayla Garcia came in 54th with a time of 23 minutes, 53.74 seconds.
Senior Taylor Roybal came in 59th with a time of 24 minutes, 11.22 seconds. Pojoaque’s fifth runner as another promising eighth-grader, Arissa Herrod. She finished 65th with a time of 25 minutes, 31.43 seconds.
“I feel good about our chances of getting to state,” Coach Lockridge said. “We ran well and our young kids are stepping up.”
In order to get to state, Pojoaque must finish among the top three teams at the District 2-4A meet they will host Nov. 2 at Pojoaque High School. With Los Alamos High School the heavy favorite to finish first in both the boys and girls races, Pojoaque is aiming for at finishing second or third. The Elks look like a good bet to take second place, while the Elkettes will battle Moriarty High School for third because Taos looks like a solid second behind Los Alamos.
Espanola Valley High School
The Espanola Valley High School boys and girls cross country teams competed at the Los Alamos Invitational meet Oct. 26 at Los Alamos. The young Sundevils have been improving all season and had a full boys team running at Los Alamos. The Lady Sundevils had three runners, two short of a full team.
The boys had a decent showing, coming in 10th with 271 points. Espanola was led by sophomore Terrance Sanchez, who came in 42nd with a time of 19 minutes, 14.56 seconds. He was followed by a trio of freshmen led by Andre Lujan, who came in 55th. Jose Castro finished 57th and Zachary Salazar came in 60th. Senior Edgar Sanchez was the Sundevils fifth runner, coming in 66th.
The Sundevils had a good pack time of just one minute, 31 seconds. It is unlikely that Espanola can qualify as a team against tough District 2-4A competition this season. The best shot at getting to state belongs to Terrance Sanchez. If he can shave about 10 seconds off his time, he might overtake a runner from Taos and qualify for state as an individual. In addition to the top three teams at the District 2-4A meet qualifying for state, the top three individuals not members of a state-qualifying team earn state-qualifying status.
The Lady Sundevils are led by seniors Jayden Archuleta and Megan Rael. They like to run together. At Los Alamos, Archuleta finished 57th at Los Alamos and Rael was 58th. Junior Alysia Martinez, Espanola’s other runner, came in 72nd. Both Archuleta and Rael have a chance to qualify for state as individuals at the District 2-4A meet Friday in Pojoaque.
Pojoaque senior John Hall finished eighth at the Los Alamos Invitational (photo by George Morse).
Espanola's Terrance Sanchez finished 42nd at Los Alamos (photo by George Morse).
The Pojoaque boys cross country team at the start of the boys varsity race at Los Alamos. Pojoaque finished fifth in the team standings (photo by George Morse).
The Pojoaque girls cross country team at the start of the girls varsity race at Los Alamos. Pojoaque finished 10th in the team standings (photo by George Morse).
Pojoaque's Isiah Roybal races towards the finish line. The Pojoaque freshman finished 48th overall.(photo by Chris Roybal).
Pojoaque's Taylor Roybal (left) and Ayla Garcia (right) follow St. Pius X's Marie Kalb at Los Alamos. Both would pass Kalb. Garcia finished 54th overall. Roybal was 59th and Kalb 60th (photo by Chris Roybal).
Espanola's Jayden Archuleta (front) and Megan Rael finish the race at Los Alamos. Archuleta was 57th and Rael 58th overall (photo by George Morse).