Jaguar harriers set to compete at Academy

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While the Valencia High girls cross country team has already proven it is competitive with the best squads in the state, it will likely take a stronger effort than the one shown last Friday in order to become a real contender in Class 4A.

Jason W. Brooks-News-Bulletin photo: Valencia senior Adam Larson competes in Friday’s Socorro Stampede at New Mexico Tech Golf Course. The Jaguar teams are set to compete in the 3 p.m. Albuquerque Academy Invite on Friday.

The Lady Jaguars placed fourth behind Los Alamos, Cleveland and Rio Rancho High at Friday’s Socorro Stampede, held at New Mexico Tech Golf Course. The VHS boys placed sixth among 10 teams, and both Valencia squads are set to compete in the Albuquerque Academy Invite at 3 p.m. Friday.

On the girls side, Carisma Lovato was the Lady Jaguars’ top finisher at the Socorro meet, completing the mostly grass course in a time of 20 minutes, 50.76 seconds a week after having won the Albuquerque High Invite.

The Valencia girls posted a team score of 97, while Rio Rancho’s score of 75 placed them third.

“Third place was in reach,” said VHS coach Lynette Padilla. “Carisma can do better than 10th, but she’s fighting an as-yet undiagnosed issue in her legs that causes her considerable pain. She’s also learning how to sustain a faster pace during races.”

Grace Vickers placed 14th, followed by Corina Baca (22nd), Sara Lopez (24th), Consuelo Lovato (29th), Cheyenne Wallace (37th) and Shelby Lucero (42nd).

“Grace, Corina and Sara ran hard,” said Padilla. “Our sixth and seventh runners also looked pretty competitive. They just need a little more experience running with the ‘big girls’ — both at practice and at meets.”

The coach pointed out that Consuelo Lovato was one of the team’s top two finishers at the first two meets, but the sophomore had the fifth-best time at Socorro.

“Consuelo could’ve performed better on Friday,” said Padilla. “She’s still new at racing this distance, but we need her to consistently be one of our top three.”

The girls are hoping Belinda Lucero can get past a nagging injury and be competitive. She has yet to finish a race in 2012.

For the VHS boys, senior Allan Quezada continues to complain of back pain, and he stays with the lead pack for the first half of the race, then fades. He placed 28th at Socorro, with fellow VHS senior Adam Larson a few seconds behind him in 29th place.

The boys only beat four teams at the meet, including District 6-4A rival Grants.

“So far, it’s been a disappointing start to (Allan’s) senior year, and he knows he needs to step it up to contend at state,” said Padilla. “Adam PR’ed at Socorro (broke his personal best), so we’re pleased about that. We know he has the ability to run at a higher level, but it may be his own level of/lack of confidence that’s preventing him from getting up front from the start and staying there. I have no doubt that he can run in the 17s.”

Carlos Cano placed 43rd. Luis Soto was 46th, followed by Gerardo Gutierrez (50th) and Dakota Wallace (62nd).

Carlos has been consistent, but he’s another that needs to start pushing his own limits more,” said Padilla. “Gerardo Gutierrez is working hard, doing his part to be a varsity runner, as is newcomer Dakota. They have a ways to go, but we see them working hard and putting their hearts into their races.”

The Jaguar teams are set to host the Valencia Invite at the VHS campus on Saturday, Oct. 6 in a meet that begins with an 8 a.m. community run. Padilla is hoping her team will perform well at Academy and go into their home meet with some momentum.


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