Valencia girls take 2nd, Belen boys take 3rd at Gardner Classic

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The Valencia girls cross country team took second while the Belen boys team took third in the Adron Gardner Classic at Belen High School Saturday morning.

The Jaguar girls, who finished with 77 points behind first-place Santa Fe’s 73 points, were paced by junior Carisma Lovato and senior Camila Orozco, who placed second and third respectively with times of 19:25 and 19:50.

Kenn Rodriguez-News-Bulletin photo: BELEN HIGH’S ARENA LEWIS was the top finisher in the girls division of the Adron Gardner Classic at Belen High Saturday.

“They both had an exceptional meet,” said Valencia coach Lynette Padilla. “All our girls did. All but one hit their personal best. They really pulled together well.”

Belen freshman Arena Lewis took first with a time of 19:11, dueling with Lovato from the outset of the race.

“I started farther back than I would have liked,” said Lewis. “Then the whole way I kept hearing people shout ‘Carisma,’ so I kept sending out surges so she wouldn’t catch me.”

Lovato said she was trying to keep pace with Lewis.

“It was like a track race,” said Lovato. “I really wanted to catch her, but I’m pretty happy. I PRed (set my personal record) today so I’m happy. I think we’ll have a few more races like this one this year.”

Belen coach Joseph E. Garcia said he was surprised by the start by Lewis, but happy with the results.

“When I saw them take off, I thought it was two speeding bullets,” Garcia laughed. “But Arena ran a real smart race.”

Kenn Rodriguez-News-Bulletin photo: BELEN HIGH’S Aaron Valenzuela, left, and Jared Garcia, right, both finished in the top four to lead the Eagles boys to a third-place finish in the Ardon Garder Classic.

Los Lunas High placed fourth in the girls division and was paced by Vivian Lueras, who finished 12th with a time of 21:41, and Gloria Zuni, who placed 14th with a time of 21:59.

Belen’s Victoria Cordova and the Tigers’ Keilee Klinghorn both placed in the top 20, finishing 17th and 18th, respectively.

Running in the junior varsity girls division, School of Dreams’ Academy runners Paige Torres, Taylor Torres and Nichole Jones finished 28th, 29th and 30th, respectively, as SODA did not have enough runners for a team score.

On the boys side, Belen finished behind Gallup Miyamura and Gallup High, who tied for first with 64 points each. The Eagles’ Jared Garcia and Aaron Valenzuela finished third and fourth with times of 16:33 and 16:55, respectively, with teammate Maunel Guererro finishing ninth with a time of 17:55.

“We went out good, Aaron and me were out there in front the whole time,” said Jared Garcia. “It was just the last mile that (first-place finisher Zach Grand of Santa Fe) just took off.”

Valenzuela said he and his Belen teammates focused on “staying together as a pack.”

“We were trying not to lose as much time between (each other).”

“The whole team went out well but we need to start working on our pack time,” concluded Garcia.

Valencia High finished in fifth with a team score of 131 behind the showings of Gerardo Gutierrez, Carlos Caro, Joseph Barela and Arturo Trujillo who finished 23rd, 24th, 25th and 27th.

Kenn Rodriguez-News-Bulletin photo: CARSIMA LOVATO finished second to lead Valencia to a second-place finish Saturday.

“We don’t have a top runner or two like we do on the girls side but we have a consistent team that’s working together, which is a big deal, considering what we haven’t had in past years,” Padilla said.

Los Lunas High did not field enough runners to have a team score but placed two runners, Nate Candelaria and Issaiah Abeita, in the top 25 with times of 18:48.46 and 18:52 respectively to capture 21st and 22nd. The School of Dreams boys placed third in the junior varsity boys division with Donivean Gallegos finishing with a team best at 31st place.