On to state: Jaguar girls take 1st district title; BHS boys, LLHS girls also advance

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Valencia High girls captured their first ever district title in cross country while the Belen boys and Los Lunas girls finished in third place in the District 6-4A cross country meet at the Tierra del Sol Golf Course Friday afternoon.

The Valencia girls made history by finishing with four runners in the top 12 to edge Gallup 49-52 for the team title and earn a berth in the Class 4A State Cross Country meet at Rio Rancho Saturday morning.

Kenn Rodriguez-News-Bulletin photo: VALENCIA HIGH RUNNERS Camila Orozco (476) and Carisma Lovato (473) helped lead the Jaguar girls to their first ever District 6-4A title Friday, finishing second and third resptively.

VHS junior Carisma Lovato finished second with a time of 19:44. 51 while her teammate, eighth grader Camila Orozco, finished the course third with a time of 19:54.56. Jaguar senior Corina Baca placed 10th while Lovato’s twin sister, Consuelo, pushed the Jags into the lead with a 12th place finish, her best of the season after recovering from a leg injury this summer.

“The girls did what they needed to do,” said Padilla. “We had our top three in the top 10, which is what we wanted. Consuelo getting in at 12th was phenomenal.”

BHS sophomore Arena Lewis took first place in the girls division, leading from start to finish on the grass course and ran a swift 19:03.87 to beat out Lovato for first place. Lovato actually stopped on the final leg of the course with a pain in her side.

Kenn Rodriguez-News-Bulletin photo: RUNNERS FROM BELEN HIGH run in the middle of the pack during the boys race at the District 6-4A cross country meet Friday afternoon in Rio Communities. The Eagle boys placed third in the meet and hope to improve on their third-place state finish at the Class 4A State Cross Country meet this Saturday at Rio Rancho High School.

“I felt pretty strong today,” Lewis said on Friday “All during practice I’ve been trying to start slower and build up faster and I did that today.”

The 4A girls state race starts at 10:30 a.m., while the boys run at 1 p.m. at Rio Rancho High School. Tickets are $8 for adults, $5 for students, and can be bought on site or online at www.nmaa.ticketleap.com.

Lewis, Orozco, Baca and the Lovato twins were all named the the all-district team while VHS head coach Lynette Padilla and assistant coach and brother Aaron won district Coach of the Year honors.

The Los Lunas girls finished a surprising third to also earn a berth in the state meet Saturday, edging out fourth-place Grants 87-90 to get the bid. Freshman Kielee Kinghorn paced the Tigers with a seventh-place finish and a time of 21:08.97, while fellow freshman and Gloria Zuni and junior Vivian Lueras came in 13th and 16th, with times of 21:39.87 and 22:00.71, respectively, as LLHS finished with four runners in the top 25 of the 48-person race.

“We’re excited to get there,” said LLHS coach Larry Padilla of making it to state. “Our two runners who stepped up, Bethany Hammon and Victoria Abeita, really helped us out. Victoria seems to always do real well in big races and she came through for us again.”

Kenn Rodriguez-News-Bulletin photo: BELEN RUNNER Arena Lewis took first place at the District 6-4A cross country meet Friday at Tierra del Sol Golf Course in Rio Communities. Lewis, a sophomore, won with a time of 19:03.87.

The Belen girls team finished sixth in the six-team race with 139 points.

On the boys side, Belen juniors Jared Garcia and Aaron Romero-Valenzuela challenged for the top spot but could not catch Gallup Miyamura’s Nile Thomas down the stretch. Garcia and Romero-Valenzuela finished second and third, respectively, with times of 16:11.35 and 16:28.35.

“Right when we crossed the road is when he broke away,” said Garcia. “It was on the second finger where he got away. Me and Aaron had a good race, (but) everyone did well.”

But it was the ninth-place finish of senior Manuel Guererro (17:31.04) and 21st-place finish of junior Brian Baldonado (18:43.98) that elevated the Eagles into their third-place team finish.

“We fell a little short,” lamented BHS coach Joseph E. Garcia. “But they ran hard and they ran strong, so I’m happy.”

The Gallup boys won the district meet with a score of 45, beating out Miyamura’s 50 points for the top spot. Valencia finished fifth with 128 points while Los Lunas finished sixth with 132 points.

Despite his team coming in sixth, Los Lunas freshman Nathan Candelaria qualified for state with a 15th-place finish and a time of 18:10.36. Tiger junior Kyle Blackwell also finished in the top 20, coming in 19th with a time of 18:38.77.

Valencia’s highest placer was sophomore Arturo Trujillo, who finished 22nd with a time of 18:45.33. Senior Carlos Cano and eighth-grader Gabriel Clayton finished just behind Trujillo in 24th and 25th, with times of 18:46.53 and 18:46.97.

BHS’ Garcia, Romero-Valenzuela and Guererro all earned all-district honors at the meet.