Romero, LL girls look tough during Gardner meet

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Any time you can win a race by more than a minute, it is quite an accomplishment.

Mike Stearns-News-Bulletin photo: Belen sophomore Aaron Romero finished third overall in Saturday’s Adron Gardner Classic at BHS, helping the Eagle boys place second as a team. The Los Lunas girls placed second as well.

That is exactly what Belen freshman Arena Lewis did at Saturday’s Ardon Gardner Classic cross country meet hosted by the Eagles.

Only 30 seconds off the course record, Lewis finished at 19 minutes. 7 seconds. She beat Academy’s Erin Archibeck by 1:17, and Los Lunas’ Kendra Lente finished third.

The Los Lunas girls fared better in the team standings, however. Albuquerque Academy won the meet with a score of 24, while Los Lunas (46) finished second and Belen (114) took fifth.

The Belen boys finished an impressive second behind talented Academy. The Eagles had three runners finish in the top 10, and ran a pack time of 1:59 between the top Belen runner and the fifth fastest Eagle.

Academy won with a score 19. Belen had a score of 54, while Miyamura (83) was third, Española Valley (86) fourth, and Los Lunas (115) fifth.

Los Lunas coach Larry Padilla was impressed that his teams grouped well.

“I feel both teams ran their best race of the year,” said Padilla.”They both had the best pack times so far.”

He was, of course, impressed with the girls, paced by Lente’s third place finish.

“I felt we were really close to Academy and that they are within reach. We have many young girls who are improving their times each week,” Padilla said.

Los Lunas had two other top 10 finishes, as Kielee Kinghorn was eighth and Eliyah Lucero finished 10th. The other Los Lunas runners were very close together, as the team ran a pack time of 1:35. Gloria Zuni was 11th, Shannae Williams finished 14th, Eve Lovato was 20th. Vivian Lueras was 23rd in the field of 34 finishers.

“For our girls,” said Padilla, “our next goal is to have a pack time of a minute or less. If we can do that and be able to keep Kendra running as consistently as she has for the past four years, then we will meet that goal.”

The Tiger boys had six competitors Saturday. Senior Michael Brown was 15th overall, while eighth-grader Issaiah Abeita placed 21st. The Belen girls were hurt by depth a little bit as they only had five runners. Most teams run seven, with the top five making the team score.

Outside of Lewis’ first place finish, the Eagles did not place anyone in the top 10. In fact, the second best time for the Eagle girls came from Alicia Montoya, who finished 22nd. Lori Espinosa was 24th, Destinee Vigil was 33rd and Shannon Russell ran 34th.

The Belen boys were sparked by the third place finish of Aaron Romero just 26 seconds behind Academy’s Ryan Lesansee. Dontae Vigil finished sixth and Jared Garcia was ninth.

To round out the Eagles qualifying team, John Berry ran well and was 12th and Brian Baldando was 22nd.

Manuel Guerrero, who was 25th, and Cameron Robare, who was 31st, also competed.

“The meet went really well,” said Belen coach Joe Garcia. “We didn’t have as many teams as we expected.”

He noted that the addition of the Academy teams was good for the meet.

“They have the numbers were they can play around with it,” said Garcia of the Academy lineup. “If I had half of those kind of numbers. I think we could have ran a little bit tougher.”

“It is a well run meet and we were able to run against two of the teams from our district,” said Padilla, appreciative of Belen coach Joe Garcia and all of the Eagle staff that worked to put on the traditional event.

Both teams head to the Meadow City Jam this Saturday, hosted by Robertson High in Las Vegas, N.M.


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