Valencia girls 2nd at Socorro meet; Belen has solid showing at UNM

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A quartet of Valencia County runners — Carisma Lovato and Camila Orozco of Valencia High School as well as Arena Lewis and Jared Garcia of Belen High — were among the top finishers at a pair of out-of-town cross country meets over the weekend.

Lovato, a junior, and Orozco, an eighth-grader, finished first and third at the meet, held at the New Mexico Tech Golf Course on Friday afternoon.

Photo courtesy Mike Mulcahy-UNM Athletics: ARENA LEWIS, of the Belen girls cross country team, was the top finisher for the Eagles at the UNM Invitational in Albuquerque on Saturday. Lewis finished sixth with a time of 19:27.

The duo finished with times of 20:10 and 21:09, respectively, as the Valencia girls team finished as the highest ranked New Mexico team, finishing second with 64 points behind El Paso Coronado’s 51 points. Seniors Corina Baca and Alicia Carbajal finished 16th and 17th, as the Jaguar girls finished with four runners in the top 20.

“Both of them did great,” said Valencia coach Lynette Padilla. “It wasn’t surprise, especially since Carisma had such a strong preseason. They both ran really well and with Corina (Baca) and Alicia (Carbajal) finishing 14th and 15th, we’re just really proud.”

The Los Lunas girls finished fifth in the meet with a final score of 118, placing one runner in the top 25 — junior Vivian Lueras in ninth with a time of 22:05 — and one just outside the top 20, sophomore Shannae Williams who finished 22nd with a time of 22:39. Freshman Kielee Kinghorn finished just behind Williams, in 24.

“(Vivian) has been running well at practice so we felt she was going to show a big improvement,” said Los Lunas coach Larry Padilla. “Kielee and Shannae ran really strong. We’re really pleased for it being the first meet of the season.”

Freshmen Issaiah Abeita and Nate Candelaria of Los Lunas were the top finishers among county boys at the Stampede, finishing 25th and 26th, respectively, with times of 19:25.86 and 19:26.10.

The Valencia boys finished seventh with 149 points behind first place Zuni High School’s 30 points. Sophomore Gerardo Gutierrez was the top finisher for the Jags at 27th with a time of 19:30.84. Junior Joseph Barela and sophomore Arturo Trujillo finished close behind in 29th and 30th with times of 19:32.76 and 19:35.05, respectively.

Elva Österreich-El Defensor-Chieftain photo: VALENCIA HIGH’s CARISMA LOVATO finished first in the girls division of the Socorro Stampede on Friday at New Mexico Tech with a time of 20:10 in the Jaguars’ first meet of the season. VHS‘ girls team took second place behind the squad from El Paso Coronado High School.

“It wasn’t an impressive finish but I was extremely impressed with how our boys ran, considering how young they are and inexperienced as a team,” said Lynette Padilla.

Valencia next runs at the West Mesa Invitational Saturday morning while Los Lunas travels to the Miyamura Invitational Friday.

The Belen girls team is short in numbers and did not earn team scores at this Albuquerque meet, run on the University of New Mexico’s North Golf Course, but that didn’t keep sophomore Arena Lewis from scoring a top 10 finish, winding up sixth with a time of 19:27. Belen’s other participant on the varsity girls side, junior Victoria Cordova, came in 101st, with a time of 23:29, while sophomores Brandi Quintana and Tabitha Davis finished 53rd and 66th in the junior varsity division.

“I was pleased with her performance, ” said Belen coach Joseph E. Garcia of Lewis. “Victoria Cordova did very well. Overall, the other girls improved their times dramatically from beginning-of-the-year kids. They’re just improving more and more every day, every week. That’s what I want.”

On the boys side, the Eagles finished 10th with 288 points, far behind meet winner Albuquerque Academy. But total times and average times are figured in, Belen was competitive with the other Class 4A teams in the meet — Los Alamos, which finished seventh with 188 points and Farmington Piedra Vista, which clocked in at eighth with 214 points.

Garcia said all four of the Eagles’ top runners set personal bests in the meet, with junior Jared Garcia finishing as the top Belen runner in 14th with a time of 16:39 and junior Aaron Valenzuela not far behind with a time of 16:52, which was good for 21st place.

Senior Manuel Guerrero finished in 31st.

“Jared ran outstanding,” said Garcia of his son,” as did all the kids on the team. What we need to start working on is running as a pack and pushing for the pack to help Aaron and Manuel.”

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