Eagles to host home meet Saturday
The second week of the season brought a number of developments for the Belen High cross country team. Many of those developments were positive, but others were not.
The positives included another strong meet from eighth-grader Arena Lewis, who ran alongside Valencia High star Nisa Rascon for the entire girls race at last Friday’s Socorro Stampede. Lewis finished only eight seconds behind the two-time state placer.
Another positive was an eighth-place finish on the boys side by Belen’s Tyler Valdez, one of three Eagle boys in the top 24 and the BHS boys placing third among 13 teams, behind Rio Rancho and Cleveland.
“I give a lot of credit to our first-year runners,” said BHS coach Joseph E. Garcia. “And hopefully by late October, when it’s time for the district meet, everyone will be healthy and up to speed.”
The Lady Eagles, despite Lewis’ 19-minute, 29.62-second, runner-up performance, placed fifth at the Stampede, held at New Mexico Tech Golf Course. Rio Rancho, Cleveland, Los Lunas and Valencia all outpaced the Lady Eagles.
BHS is set to host the Adron Gardner Classic at Belen High on Saturday. The first race of the day, the girls varsity race, is set for 9 a.m., followed by the boys varsity.
The varsity and junior varsity races at Socorro were combined after a lengthy storm delay, so there was only one boys and one girls race. Each field was more than 150 runners strong.
Garcia said he doesn’t think the long delay or the large field were big factors in the Lady Eagles’ subpar performance.
“We ran in a huge field at the Lobo Invite (on Sept. 3),” he said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do on the girls side.”
Garcia praised the adjustments of Lewis, already an accomplished athlete before joining the BHS squad, for making the transition to high school running. The pair ran at the front of the pack the entire race, with the senior, Rascon, outsprinting Lewis in the last several hundred meters.
“I’m proud of her for staying with that senior,” said Garcia.
The coach also praised the seventh-place effort of Eagle senior Tayler Hendren.
However, the next Lady Eagle finisher was Alisha Montoya-Silva, who was 26th. Lori Espinoza was 32nd, followed by 56th-place Victoria Cordova. Two Lady Eagles among those with the least varsity experience, Heather Self and Shannon Russell, were 78th and 119th, respectively.
“I really liked the way Lori ran,” said Garcia. “And we’re sharing Alisha with the soccer team. But I’m not sure what’s going on with Victoria.”
On the boys side, Valdez was the top finisher from a 4A team. The next-best finish by an Eagle was by Dontae Vigil, who was 16th, followed by Jared Garcia (24th), Nathan Edwell (37th) and Patrick Armijo (52nd). Cameron Robare (137th) and Clayton Chavez (146th) also competed.
“I was pleased with how Tyler, Dontae and Jared did,” said Garcia. “Patrick had back spasms, which seemed to bother him less later on. I don’t know what was going on with Nathan.”
Garcia said the Socorro course was slightly more challenging than last year. The Belen course is a flat route, crossing Christopher Road and making a loop on ditchbanks east of the school, returning west and meandering through a field before ending on a BHS practice field.
The coach said if heavy rain falls this week, it could cause the course to be changed at the last minute.
After the Gardner Classic, the Eagle teams head to Las Vegas, N.M., for the Meadow City Jam, hosted by Robertson High on Saturday, Sept. 24.
Contact Jason W. Brooks