Lady Tigers win district; Brown also is qualified

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One week after only posting a one-point win over host Grants, the Lady Tigers cross country team claimed the district title by a large margin on the New Mexico State University Grants course Friday.

Kendre Lente led the way by winning the district title and the Tigers had four of the top 10 finishers.

Although the boys team finished out of the top three needed to go to state, all was not lost for the Tigers.

Michael Brown qualified individually, along with Grants' Keaton Duncan and Michael Anzures.

The Class 4A state championship is set for the Rio Rancho High School course on Saturday. Races will be staggered by class with all of the boys races taking place first. Estimated start times are 11 a.m. for the boys run and 1:45 p.m. for the Class 4A girls. The awards presentations are scheduled for 3 p.m.

Lente was thrilled with the win despite favorite Arena Lewis of Belen going off the course and finishing 46th. Lente ran a 21:59, 15 seconds slower than the week before at the Grants meet.

She won the district race by almost a minute, beating Winona Martin of Grants by 41 seconds.

The Los Lunas girls won the district team title with a score of 44. Valencia was second with 57 points and Grants third with 65. All three teams qualified for state.

Miyamura (75) was fourth, Gallup (90) fifth and Belen (170) sixth.

Eighth-grader Gloria Zuni ran a 23:31 for fifth place, Eliyah Lucero finished in 23:47 for eighth and Jordan Benavidez was 10th with a time of 23:54.

Another eighth-grader, Kielee Kinghorn, finished 20th, Eve Lovato was 32nd, Courtney Gutierrez ran 33rd and Shannae Williams was 39th.

Coach Larry Padilla noted that his senior team leader was more enthused about what her winning the district title did for the team.

"Kendra was very excited, but her excitement was more for the team," said Padilla. "She is always humble and she never talks about her individual success."

Padilla agreed that it was a big boost for the rest of the girls.

"Kendra's biggest asset has been her consistency in her training and her racing," Padilla said. "We can always count on Kendra having her best race because she always trains and races with the belief that if she trains hard and does her best in all aspects of her life, she will experience success."

The boys team finished fifth with a team score of 133, beating Valencia with 156 points. Belen won the district race team title with 41 points, Gallup was second at 59, Miyamura was third at 60 and Grants was fourth with 82 points.

Brown finished 12th overall.He qualified as one of the top three finishers from one of the three state-qualifying teams.

"Michael was very excited, but Michael has fans everywhere," said Padilla. "Everyone was excited for Michael, including coaches from other teams.

"Michael has just been persistent, he has set this goal for himself and has done the work that he needed to peak at District."

Eighth-grade sensation Issaiah Abeita finished 22nd, Phillip Hammon was 32nd, Nate Candelaria ran 33rd, Eric Gomez was 34th, Patrick Benavidez ran 40th and Jose Lucero was 45th.

"For our boys team, we were hoping for a little stronger finish, but we have some excellent young runners that will excel in the future," said Padilla. "We will see a lot of victories in the future of Issaiah Abeita and Nate Candelaria. Phillip Hammon showed a lot of promise this year, and Patrick Benavidez did well to recover from his injury and be able to contribute during the last half of the season."


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