Gardner Classic a first look for district opponents

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County cross country teams will get their first look at each other as well as district foes this weekend at the Adron Gardner Classic at Belen High School.

The host Eagles will be joined by Los Lunas and Valencia High as well as teams from Gallup's Miyamura and Gallup High and Grants High School, all from District 6-4A, as well as Los Lunas' School of Dreams Academy, Santa Fe High and Española Valley.

Belen coach Joseph E. Garcia said the meet is a big one because of having all the team's district foes at the same meet.

"It's still early in the season, this is just everyone's third meet," he said. "Winning our own meet would be a big thing. But we're really just hoping everyone does well. We just need to stay healthy and injury-free while we prep for district.

Belen came in sixth over the weekend at the ATC Everybody Invitational meet in Santa Fe. Like Los Lunas and Valencia, Belen is still working up to form for district, said Garcia. So this week's meet will be good preparation for that, as well as a good early season test.

What the Gardner Classic will not be is a preview of the District 6-4A state-qualifying meet in November, said Garcia. Due to the meet being in conflict with a Belen High football game on Friday, Nov. 1, against Valencia High, the District meet will be held at the Tierra del Sol Golf Course in Rio Communities.

"We talked to (BHS golf coach Craig Tabet) and he said it was not a problem to use the course," said Garcia. "We'll just need to get out there and figure out a (cross country) course at the golf course."

Using Tierra del Sol as a site for the district meet won't be an issue for district teams, said Garcia, as several already have run meets at golf courses – including the UNM Invitational at the University of New Mexico's North Golf Course and the Socorro Stampede at the New Mexico Tech Gold Course in Socorro.

"The kids are used to running golf courses and are familiar with it, so it won't be a problem" Garcia said.

Saturday's Adron Gardner Classic begins at 9 a.m., with the girls teams running first, followed by the boys.