Jaguar girls hungry for a better finish at state

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Valencia High

Valencia High School girls cross country team finished the 2012 season as the seventh-best team in the state. Jaguars coach Lynette Padilla thinks the team can improve that standing in 2013.

CARISMA LOVATO of Valencia High School is one of the key runners for the Jaguars’ District 6-4A title hopes in 2013.

“Our immediate goal is to win district but our ultimate goal is to finish in the top three at state,” she said. “I’d be happy to move into the top five this year. I think that’s realistic.”

Padilla said of the six returning runners she has coming back that she is looking to junior Carisma Lovato to be the team leader.

“She came off a strong track and preseason and she’s looking strong,” Padilla said.

The team may have to do without Lovato’s twin sister, Consuelo, who suffered a knee injury this summer and had not been cleared by doctors to run by Monday, when Padilla spoke to the News-Bulletin.

Padilla said the rest of the squad, which has eight core members and could increase in size to 14 by the end of the first week of school, is solid despite losing two seniors.

Padilla said senior Karina Baca and eighth-grader Camilla Orozco could help the team fill in the gaps left by graduation and help the school improve on its best finish to date, a fourth-place standing in 2010.

“It always comes down to consistency,” she said. “If we can stay consistent in practice and peak at the right moment, we can do some good things. The girls just need to trust in the training and stay healthy.”

Los Lunas High

The Tigers come into 2013 having lost three top runners from a 2012 squad that finished 10th in the state.

“I think we’ll do fine,” said coach Larry Padilla. “We had our top girls graduate but we have two new girls come in last year, Gloria Zuni and Kielee Kinghorn, both eighth-graders that ran really well for us.”

With five returning runners, including junior Vivian Lueras and sophomores Shannae Williams and Bethany Hannon, who Padilla said showed a lot of promise in pre-season workouts, the Tigers should again be competitive.

“We have so many young runners, I think we just need to have some new girls take on leadership roles,” Padilla said. “We definitely have some talent on the girls side, we just need some more conditioning and training.”

Padilla said District 6-4A will be a tough league, with schools like Gallup, Grants and Miyamura all improving. While he said Valencia is the likely favorite for winning the league title, he still holds out hope for his young LLHS squad.

“(Our) girls are going to be competitive,” he concluded.

Belen High

While he does have four strong returning runners, coach Joseph E. Garcia uses the term “rebuilding” when speaking about the Eagles girls.

“We’ve been battling to get the girls program to get bigger, back to where it was at a few years ago,” said Garcia. “We won a state championship a few years ago, but the numbers have gone down.”

Of the four returning letter-winners Garcia has, sophomore Arena Lewis and junior Victoria Cordova had the strongest showings in pre-season workouts, he said.

Freshman Tabitha Chavez and sophomore Shaylynn Baca also have shown promise and the teams is poised, overall, for success.

Garcia said he’s also working on an arrangement with soccer coach Wilfred Carrasco to have a few soccer players fill out the cross country roster.

School of Dreams

The saying “Slow and steady wins the race” might be the mantra for SODA cross-country coach George Chavez and his Spartans program, in its fourth year of existence.

Running in District 3-2A, the SODA team only had three girls last season and did not qualify anyone for state. Chavez said the team’s numbers should be up a little this season.

“We should have seven girls,” he said. “I think the girls can place third in district and qualify for state. Bosque Prep and Laguna-Acoma from our district usually end up one-two at state, so to qualify would be a real accomplishment for us.”

The Spartan girls have two returners from last season, Chavez said — sophomore Victoria Troyer and junior, Clara Sims. Both Troyer and Sims qualified as eighth-graders, Chavez said. Sims also plays soccer for the Valencia High girls soccer team.

Chavez said the rest of the team will likely be composed of of eighth- and ninth-graders.