Lady Jaguars place second; hope for strong runs at state

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Coming off of a strong run at the District 6-4A cross country championships, the Valencia Lady Jaguars are looking to go only one direction — up.

The girls, scoring 57 points, qualified for the Class 4A state meet by finishing second at district behind Los Lunas, which had 44 points. The boys team finished sixth and did not have any individual state qualifiers at the 6-4A meet, held Friday on the New Mexico State University Grants campus.

The Lady Jags will compete in the Class 4A state race at 1:45 p.m. Saturday at the Rio Rancho High course, and will have their eye on being on the awards podium at around 3 p.m.

"We hope to match or beat our 2010 state performance," said coach Lynette Padilla of the fourth-place finish two years ago. "I'm proud of the girls team and their ability to work together on a common goal."

At district, Carisma Lovato led the way for the Lady Jags, finishing third with a time of 23:02. Grace Vickers was fourth at 23:11. The one-two combination has led the Lady Jags in most meets this year.

"Carisma and Grace ran how they should have. We expected them up front and they delivered," said Padilla. "They knew that they needed to be in the top five to get our team to state."

"This year was a huge improvement from last season," said Vickers, one of only two Lady Jaguars who competed at state last year. "It was obviously a much better way for us to compete at district and finish our season. We are all looking forward to state this weekend and want to be competitive."

Lovato noted that state will be a new experience for some of the girls.

"I'm so proud of the team," said the Valencia sophomore. "And I think it's going to be a great experience to go to state, since for half of us, It's going to be our first."

Corina Baca ran 11th, Consuelo Lovato finished 14th, Sara Lopez finished 25th, Belinda Lucero was 27th and Shelby Lucero was 34th.

"The other five ran well," said Padilla. "We were a bit concerned about Consuelo and Belinda in the middle of the race because both seemed to be struggling, but they both got strong in the second half and finished well."

She noted that Baca, Lopez and Shelby Lucero ran well and everyone's performance contributed to the team's successful finish.

"Corina did a great job by coming in 11th place," said Padilla.

The Jags see their season end at the district race as the team finished last and had no individual qualifiers. It has been a rocky year for the boys team.

"The boys team did not reach their potential," said Padilla. "Unfortunately, the disciplinary action taken on several boys affected the team's performance throughout the season, but not at Grants on Friday. Those that were committed to running, did."

The disciplinary actions included dismissing senior and 2010-11 state placer Allan Quezada from the team a few weeks ago.

Luis Soto and Gerardo Gutierrez missed the district meet for personal reasons.

Carlos Caro was the top finisher for Valencia, posting at time of 19:45 in 15th place. He missed the cut for state by two places. Adam Larson was 18th.

"Without those two boys (Soto and Gutierrez) it was really difficult for the others to have a solid team performance," said Padilla. "We hoped that Carlos and Adam would qualify, but they were a few places short of that."

Dakota Wallace was 35th, Lucas Garcia placed 42nd and Donald Amble was 46th.

"I think there is potential in the boys team, especially in some of our new and young runners," said the Valencia coach. "Our biggest goal for the upcoming year is to build the boys team, and establish a more committed boys team that works together to reach common goals."


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