Jaguar boys, girls claim VHS Invite

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The host Valencia boys and girls cross country squads claimed first place at the Valencia Invitational Saturday at Valencia High School.

On the girls side, junior Carisma Lovato, eighth-grader Camila Orozco and junior Corina Baca finished first, second and third with times of 19:00, 19:26 and 21:24, respectively, and the Jaguar girls beat out Los Lunas 33-37 to take first place.

Kenn Rodriguez-News-Bulletin photo: VALENCIA HIGH’s GABRIEL CLAYTON, center, duels with Estancia’s Stone Meyers, right, and Los Lunas’ Issaiah Abeita at the finish of the Valencia Invitational Saturday morning.

“Last year, I was tired but I ran a lot stronger (this year),” Orozco said. “Our other races have been better, but this was our best time as a team. I did a little better at Academy. It feels good because we’re doing better and stronger (as a team).”

The Los Lunas trio of freshman Kielee Kinghorn, junior Vivian Lueras and freshman Gloria Zuni finished fifth, sixth and seventh with time of 21:35, 21:40 and 22:06.

“I tried to not go super fast at the beginning, but tried to push it at the end,” said Kinghorn. “I think I did pretty good (and) we did pretty good (today).”

Albuquerque’s Cottonwood Classical finished third in the four-team meet with 60 points while Estanica finished fourth with 95 points.

On the boys side, Valencia sophomore Arturo Trujillo and senior Carlos Caro finished second and third with times of 18:14 and 18:29, respectively, pacing the Jaguar boys to a first-place finish. Valencia scored 26 points, easily outdistancing second-place Estancia, which finished with 58 points.

“We’d run the course many times, so I knew where I had to pick my pace up,” Trujillo said. “Our pack times are getting better and better every day. I think this is the best pack time we’ve had (this season.)”

Los Lunas finished in third with 58 points and was paced by freshman Nathan Candelaria, who finished in fourth with a time of 18:34. Freshman Issaiah Abeita and junior Phillip Hammon were the Tigers’ next highest finishers, coming in 11th and 12th.

“I felt fine,” said Candelaria. “It was sandy. But I ran it last season, so I was used to it. It was a pretty good time.”

Sophomore Arena Lewis finished first for the Eagles girls while juniors Aaron Valenzuela and Jared Garcia finished second and fourth to lead the Belen boys to a second-place finish behind Los Alamos at the Santa Fe Indian School meet at Cochiti Middle School Saturday.

Kenn Rodriguez-News-Bulletin photo: THE GIRLS TEAMS from Valencia High School, left, and Los Lunas High School, right, begin their race at the Valencia Invitational Saturday at Valencia High School. The host Jaguars finished first while the Tigers came in second at the meet.

Lewis came in first with a time of 19:11 as the top girls runner, while Valenzuela and Garcia posted times of 16:40.85 and 16:42.11 in helping the Eagle boys amass 124 points to easily outdistance third-place Shiprock, which finished with 151 points.

“We did well,” said BHS coach Joseph E. Garcia. “It was a good field and a good course. I thought the boys did really well. Jared and Aaron battling for first and second. Arena did really well, she ran an excellent, smart race. She kept her distance between her and (the others) and she knew what to do. She knew if she took off, she needed to keep it and stay out there with that distance.”

Senior Manuel Guerrero and junior Brian Baldonado finished 14th and 19th for Belen.