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Lady Cats run away from field in district

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CLOVIS — Clovis High cross country coach Mark Bussen wanted freshman Kelsey McNaughton to win Friday’s District 4-6A girls cross country race at Ned Houk Park. Meantime, McNaughton had modestly said she hoped to finish “in the top three.”

link Staff photo: Tony Bullocks

Clovis freshman Kelsey McNaughton crosses the finish line after easily winning the District 4-6A girls cross country race on Friday at Ned Houk Park. McNaughton ran a time of 18 minutes, 30.22 seconds to lead the Lady Wildcats to a team victory.

She greatly underestimated her ability, blowing away the field and leading the Lady Wildcats to a dominating team win with a time of 18 minutes 30.22 seconds over three miles.

The Lady Cats took the top four spots in the four-school meet and won easily with 20 points to 42 for Alamogordo.

“That was rough, but I had fun with it,” McNaughton said. “Going to state is exciting.”

Sophomores Catherine Hisel (19:45.00) and Mya Borwick (20:12.51) and junior Holly Steinle (20:25.56) rounded out the top four, while junior Silvia Velasquez was 10th (22:04.80).

“Kelsey’s a strong runner,” Hisel said. “She’s so strong, but she makes the rest of us better.”

The boys team standings were exactly reversed from the girls, with Hobbs posting a perfect score of 15 to 49 for Carlsbad, 82 for Alamogordo and 95 for CHS. Hobbs’ Manuel Porras was the individual champion in 15:53.31.

McNaughton, Hisel and Borwick were in an odd situation — all three ran with essentially no one around them. Clovis ran without junior Emily Gonzales, who tweaked a hamstring last week in a meet at Ruidoso.

“I think we were able to keep up our pace,” Hisel said. “I was looking (to finish) second or third.

“Last week when Emily got hurt, Silvia pulled through and she pulled through again today.”

link Staff photo: Tony Bullocks

Clovis High sophomore Harrison Rikel was one of three Wildcats to qualify for next week’s Class 6A boys state cross country meet, finishing 12th in Friday’s District 4-6A meet at Ned Houk Park with a time of 17 minutes, 6.22 seconds.

Clovis coach Mark Bussen held Gonzales out in hopes she’ll be healthy for Saturday’s Class 6A state race, set for 1:35 p.m. at Rio Rancho H.S.

“(Silvia) just said, ‘Coach, I knew I had to run fast because Emily was out,’” Bussen said. “Closing that gap (between the top runners) really helps us out.”

Bussen is hoping the Lady Cats can push the top teams next week, but said the competition will be stiff, led by defending Class 5A champion Eldorado.

“It’s going to be one of those deals where we could run really well (as a team) and finish sixth,” he said.

Sophomore Harrison Rikel led the CHS boys, finishing 12th in a time of 17:06.22. Carlsbad took the next three places behind the Hobbs sweep.

The top three teams qualify for state, plus the top three individuals whose teams don’t qualify, so Rikel, sophomore Braydon Sewell (16th in 17:21.27) and senior Jose Salgado (18th in 17:30.72) will represent the Wildcats in next week’s 6A boys race at Rio Rancho, set for 11 a.m.

“Those three really deserve to go (to state),” Bussen said. “They all ran their best times or close to their best today.”

 
 
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