Lisette Sanchez of Belen runs during Friday’s state championship meet at Albuquerque Academy

ALBUQUERQUE — After two weeks, the cross country season is over. Belen and Los Lunas competed at the state championships on Friday, March 26, and Saturday, March 27.

This year, the event was held at Albuquerque Academy instead of Rio Rancho High School and was split up over two days.

Each classification ran as a separate event, with the facility cleared in between in order to better enforce capacity limits and social distancing which resulted in Belen running on Friday afternoon and Los Lunas on Saturday.

The Belen girls, who won the district title on Saturday, March 20, had the strongest showing, finishing in sixth place with two runners earning top 30 finishes in Lisette Sanchez and Sofia Castillo, who finished 24th and 27th, respectively.

Los Alamos once again captured the 4A girls crown, finishing with a team score of 23. Belen’s sixth place finish came with a score of 102.

“I’m really proud of both of our teams today,” head coach Fernando Sisneros said. “It’s been a really long road to get here, we started practicing in June and then had to start, stop, start, stop. Some of these schools we ran against today were running three, four weeks before we were.”

Despite their shortened season, the Belen girls were still able to claim the district title as well as the individual champion in Castillo as well as reversing recent trends and topping Los Lunas in the team’s only meet before district.

The Eagles also have the benefit of youth, as Sisneros expects every member of the squad back in the fall.

As for the Eagle boys, Blaze Sheets led the way with his 54th place finish with a time of 19:56.46, followed by Matias Padilla, who finished in 58th.

As a team, BHS posted a score of 194, good for an 11th place finish. Hope Christian took home the blue trophy with a score of 18.

The Los Lunas boys had the stronger finish of the two Los Lunas teams, finishing in ninth place with a team score of 146.

Senior Butch Bottini led the way for the Tigers with his 32nd place finish and time of 17:56.50, followed by Micah Sparks, who finished in 41st with a time of 18.13.06. Cleveland won the title with a score of 31.

The Tiger girls finished in tenth place with a team score of 144 as Rio Rancho took home the crown with a score of 35.

Kiyah Padilla was the strongest runner for LLHS on the girl’s side, finishing in 35th place with a time of 22:11.53, followed by senior Amanda Sparks in 39th with a time of 22:22.60.

Of the four runners for the Tiger girls at state, only one, Sparks, will graduate. Padilla, who led the team, will be a junior next season.

Sports writer

Cameron Goeldner grew up in Boulder, Colo., and attended the University of New Mexico. He covers everything sports for all Valencia County schools.

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