By George Morse
It was a long wait, but Santa Fe Indian School finally got to take to the awards podium and receive the red, second-place trophy in Class 3A at the Laguna Burger State cross country championships. All the trophies had been handed out except for the second-place and third-place trophies in boys Class 3A that stood alone on the football field at Rio Rancho High School. Many teams had already left for home, including Class 3A state champion Zuni High School.
However, there had been what race officials called a chip malfunction involving Santa Fe Indian School runners. Before the race, all teams are issued bibs with their number and chips are inserted into their running shoes that record the runner’s time as they cross the finish line. Indian School’s Chris Humetewa had finished third during the race, but somehow Indian School’s Ronnie Coriz was listed ahead of Humetewa. Coriz had actually come in 42nd as Indian School’s sixth runner. Indian School Coach Joe Calabaza also said that another of his runners was listed as coming in higher than he actually had.
“It got all messed up from there,” Calabaza said.
This forced officials to manually tabulate the results. There were 94 runners in the race. While this was going on, the teams from Indian School, Laguna Acoma High School, Santa Fe Prep School, Navajo Prep School and Cottonwood Classical Prep School were asked to wait because there was a possibility they had finished in second or third place and would receive a trophy.
When the results were finally announced, Indian School had taken second with 92 points. Laguna was third with 111 points.
Zuni had clearly taken first place with a score of 23 points and had already received their trophy. The Thunderbirds were led by individual state champion Deshawn Goodwin, who won with a time of 16 minutes, 02.80 seconds. He was well ahead of Cottonwood Classical Prep School’s Justin Howey, who took second with a time of 16 minutes, 18.54 seconds. Humetewa was third with a time of 16 minutes, 42.20 seconds in third.
After Humetewa, it was a parade of Thunderbirds in the next four spots. Cameron Eustace finished fourth. Jarek Chimoni-Zunie came in fifth and Jacey Edaskie sixth. Dominic Yuselew was Zuni’s fifth runner in seventh place. Zuni even had another runner in the top 10 with Braydon Othole in 10th.
For the second year in a row, Humetewa finished third.
“Top three, I’m okay with that,” he said. “I grabbed the lead right away and felt good. At the top of the hill, my legs just stopped working. I ran nervous. I gave it my all today.”
Following Humetewa across the finish line was Isaiah Velasquez, who slipped to 11th after finishing eighth last year. He finished with a time of 17 minutes, 18.25 seconds. Laguna’s top runner, Colton Salvador, finished just behind Velasquez in 12th.
After Velasquez, the next runner for the Braves was Isaiah Dasheno, who came in 20th. DeBrylan Candelario was 37th for Indian School. The Braves fifth runner was Ethan Vigil, who finished 40th.
For the second year in a row, Indian School took second place, but this year the difference between first and second was bigger than last year. Only nine points separated Zuni and Indian School in 2018. The Thunderbirds will graduate five seniors from this year’s team. Coriz was the only senior running for Indian School. According to Calabaza, the Braves have a good freshman class coming in and he is looking forward to next season.
“We’ll be back next year,” Calabaza said. “We’ll go from there.”
The big news for the Lady Braves is that for the first time since 2009, they had a runner in the top 10 that earned All-State honors. Freshman Kendra Emery gave it her all, collapsing just after she crossed the finish line and holding off a challenge from Robertson High School’s Liana Fernandez. She finished with a time of 20 minutes, 40 seconds.
For the second year in a row, Indian School finished in fourth place. Last year, the Lady Braves were just a point away from third place. The margin was greater this year. Indian School finished with 129 points. Laguna-Acoma High School took third place with 89 points. Zuni finished in second place with 75 points. Cottonwood Classical Prep School took first place with 54 points.
For the Lady Braves, after Kendra Emery crossed the finish line the next runner for the Braves was freshman Destiny Marquez. She came in 16th with a time 21 minutes, 05.75 seconds. Senior Iris Emery, Kendra’s older sister, was next. She finished 34th with a time of 22 minutes, 20.10 seconds.
“I will remember running with these girls,” Iris Emery said. “Pushing them, Trying to teach them right from wrong. You have to do what you have to do to be a leader.”
After Iris Emery, the next Indian School runner was freshman Alexis Aguino, who finished 41st. Freshman Ariana Montoya was the Lady Braves fifth runner, coming in 45th.
The individual champion in girls Class 3A was Wingate High School’s Jewels Leslie, who finished with a time of 19 minutes, 34.75 seconds. Laguna’s Sidney Cheromiah was second with a time of 19 minutes, 51.10 seconds. Zuni’s Alexandria Bewanika came in third with a time of 20 minutes, .95 seconds. Marissa Case of East Mountain High School was fourth
Cottonwood Classical’s strength followed and is what carried them to victory. Sophia Lopez finished fifth with a time of 20 minutes, 5.35 seconds. Aubrey Lozoya came in seventh just a second later and Liza Cardinale finished ninth just 13 seconds behind Lopez. When Ellie Merhege crossed the line in 17th place followed by teammate Isabella Carbral in 18th place, Cottonwood had nailed down first place.
Like the boys, the bulk of this year’s Lady Braves team will return next season. Iris Emery and Indian School’s sixth runner Diandra Toya will graduate, but that solid core of freshman will return.