Pojoaque Valley High School senior Consuelo Quintana (center) signed a National Letter of Intent to run cross country at Regis University in Denver at a ceremony held April 17 at Ben Lujan Gymnasium at Pojoaque. Watching her sign are: Coach Chris Roybal (left), Coach Edwina Roybal, mother Feliz Esparza (right) and Coach Alan Lockridge (far right). Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post
Pojoaque’s Consuelo Quintana Signs with Regis University
By George Morse Sports and Outdoors
Pojoaque Valley High School senior Consuelo Quintana will continue her career as a cross country and track and field athlete at the next level after signing a National Letter of Intent to compete for Regis University in Denver. With her mother, Feliz Esparza, and coaches Chris and Edwina Roybal looking on, Quintana signed her name to the scholarship April 17 in a ceremony at Ben Lujan Gymnasium in Pojoaque.
It was Quintana’s mother who pushed her in the direction of cross country. Quintana had been a basketball player in middle school.
Consuelo Quintana signs a National Letter of Intent to run cross country at Regis University in Denver as her mother, Feliz Esparza smiles and watches. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post
“I noticed in basketball she was one of the first down the court,” Feliz Esparza said. “She didn’t want to at first.”
That was the first step in a journey that culminated with the signing ceremony at Pojoaque.
“Without her, I never would have started,” Quintana said.
Quintana is a four-year veteran of the Pojoaque varsity cross country team, beginning her freshman year. She competed at the New Mexico State Cross Country meet three of her four years. In 2014, she helped the Elkettes to a sixth-place finish. In 2015, she was a member of the Pojoaque girls cross country team that took the third-place trophy at state. In 2016 in her junior year, Pojoaque failed to qualify as a team and Quintana didn’t qualify as an individual. That failure motivated Quintana in her final, senior year at Pojoaque.
Pojoaque senior Consuelo Quintana, shown here running at the 2017 New Mexico State Cross Country Championships, was a four-year varsity runner for the Elkettes in cross country and track and field. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post
“It taught me that even at your lowest point, you have to move on,” Quintana said. “It made me push myself.”
The effort paid off for Quintana and her team. She earned All-District 2-4A honors with a fifth-place finish, helping her team to a third-place finish at the district meet and a return trip to the State Cross Country Championships. There, Pojoaque finished sixth in the team standings. Quintana was 29th overall.
“It wasn’t my best race,” Quintana said after that race. “Being able to run with the girls at state is all that mattered.”
That team-oriented attitude is what made her a valuable member of Pojoaque’s team.
“She was a great role model,” Pojoaque Coach Alan Lockridge said. “She never missed (practice). She never complained. When you ask her to do something, she does it. She’s always there.”
In addition to being an athlete, Quintana is a solid student.
“When I mentioned to teachers and staff at our school about Consuelo, all comments were: ‘She is smart, she is a brilliant student, she is humble,’” Coach Lockridge said.
Quintana gives a lot of credit to teacher Albert Fernandez, himself a former coach.
“He’s a big reason I have a passion for math,” Quintana said. “Computer science is something I want to go into.”
For Quintana, her relationship with her teammates and coaches has been a strong influence in her life.
“It’s been a great experience,” she said. “I’ve made great friends. My team, my coaches have been a big part of my running career. They’re like family. Without them, I wouldn’t have had this opportunity.”
That opportunity arose after she received a pamphlet in the mail from Regis University. She liked the fact that it is well-known for its academics and that it was a small, private Catholic school. She visited Regis with the intention of attending as a student. While there she talked with the cross country coaches, including Head Coach John Esquibel.
“They told me they had a spot for me then and there,” Quintana said. “They looked at my times and felt I was a good candidate for the team. I was surprised. I’m still shocked.”
Regis University is an NCAA Division II institution and a member of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.