Tiger harriers climb hills at Jemez

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Running on a rugged, rocky mountainous course is always tough — especially a week after beginning the season on flat Cleveland High campus.

Los Lunas High runners persevered Saturday at the Jemez Valley Invite, where the LLHS girls placed runner-up as a team to St. Pius. The Tiger boys were fifth among 11 teams.

Kendra Lente's seventh-place finish paced the girls, while Michael Brown placed 17th for the boys. Both Los Lunas teams are set to compete in the 9 a.m. Adron Gardner Classic on Saturday at Belen High.

"For the girls, Kendra climbs hills in a strong way," said LLHS coach Larry Padilla. "And for the boys, Issaiah Abeita is already strong, ahead of where some of our state placers were at that stage. Michael didn't pass him until the last 400 meters."

The coach measures each runner's time increase or decrease from meet to meet. Saturday, the Lady Tiger who added the least time this week was Lente, a senior who excels on steep hills. She finished Saturday's race in 22 minutes, 19 seconds.

"Normally, it's the boys who add less time on hilly courses," said Padilla. "Kendra runs like the boys do. It shows how strong she is."

Eighth-grader Kielee Kinghorn was the Lady Tigers' second-best finisher for the second consecutive week. She placed 19th at Saturday's meet.

"Kielee has been a pleasant surprise," said Padilla. "There's one hill they call 'Do or Die.' About 50 percent of the kids walk up the steepest part. But Kielee just kept going."

Padilla was also impressed with Eliyah Lucero, another senior, who has nursed injuries throughout her career. The senior placed 19th at Jemez.

Freshman Shannae Williams placed 20th, and eighth-grader Gloria Zuni was 27th. The Lady Tigers had 90 team points, and almost no squad could have bested the 30 points of St. Pius.

Vivian Lueras (40th place) and Courtney Gutierrez (46th) also competed.

For the boys, Abeita, who was 21st, and Brown paced the group. Eric Gomez, Nate Candelaria, Phillip Hammon, Jose Lucero and Gregg Talley were the other finishers, but their exact places were not available.

After this weekend's Belen meet, where the Lady Tigers are the defending champions, the Tiger teams head to Las Vegas, N.M., for the Meadow City Jam on Saturday, Sept. 29.


-- Email the author at jbrooks@news-bulletin.com.