Both Valencia cross country teams win at home meet

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Saturday was a day of team and individual bests as the Valencia girls won handily and the boys squeaked out a one-point team win — their first ever as a cross country team.

The hosts of the Valencia Invitational had a combined boys score of 46, edging Los Lunas’ 47 for the Jaguar boys’ first-ever meet win.

Mike Stearns-News-Bulletin photo: Grace Vickers, one of the Lady Jaguars’ few senior cross country runner, finished third at the Valencia invitational on Saturday behind teammate Carisma Lovato and Los Lunas’ Kendra Lente. Valencia will run at the David Allen Memorial Invite, hosted by Los Lunas, on Saturday.

“That’s really cool,” said an excited Jag coach Lynette Padilla over the boys’ first meet win in their seven-year history.

Both the VHS and Los Lunas teams will run in the David Allen Memorial, hosted by Los Lunas. The race starts at 9:30 a.m. Saturday.

“We host a meet next week, it will be one of the biggest meets we have hosted and will be the biggest meet so far this year for us,” said Los Lunas coach Larry Padilla. “We should have everyone in our district except Miyamura.”

In the Valencia race, six of the Jaguar boys that ran scored their best time of the season.

“Carlos had a really great race, as did our newcomer, Dakota Wallace,” said the Jag coach.

Allan Quezada paced the Jags with a third place finish, running the course in 18:09. Carlos Caro (18:12) was fourth and Adam Larson (18:29) finished sixth.

Gerardo Gutierrez was 14th, Luis Soto ran 19th and Dakota Wallace was 21st.

Los Lunas was led by Michael Brown, who finished fifth with a time of 18:25. Issaiah Abeita was ninth, Eric Gomez finished 10th, Phillip Hammon was 11th, Nate Candelaria ran 12th and Jose Lucero was 20th.

“I think the boys were actually surprised with the results, but I know they were proud,” said Valencia’s Lynette Padilla. “Hopefully, this was a major burst of confidence and it’ll help carry them through the second half of the season.”

The VHS girls placed three of the top four finishers in the meet, with Carisma Lovato winning the race with a time of 20:08. Kendra Lente of Los Lunas was second, with Jaguar teammates Grace Vickers third and Consuelo Lovato fourth.

Sara Lopez was 11th, Cheyenne Wallace ran 12th and Belinda Lucero finished 16th for Valencia’s team score of 31.

Los Lunas had 38 points. Gloria Zuni finished sixth, followed by Kielee Kinghorn (seventh), Jordan Benividez (10th), Vivian Lueras (13th), Eve Lovato (14th) and Courtney Gutierrez (17th).

The Tigers were without senior Eliyah Lucero, said Larry Padilla.

“She was our number two runner last week and has been number three prior to that so her absence hurt us,” he said.

The Los Lunas coach was happy with the boys result, also.

“They have been running with a pack time about a minute all season, but they have been slowly improving as a team. I am hopefull we can sneak in at district with the boys,” said Padilla.

Lynette Padilla noted that the small field in the Valencia race made for a relaxing morning run.

“It was a nice, small meet. It came at the right time,” she said

“We’d had two hard meets back-to-back (Socorro and Albuquerque Academy), so it was nice to get a break from some of the 5A competition and large crowds.

She explained the schedule does not get any easier.

“Our next two meets (The David Allen meet and the Rio Rancho Jamboree) will be big and challenging, so this was a nice chance for us to perform with a little less stress. It was a nice way to open up the second half of the season,” Padilla said.


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