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Lady Cats seek best state cross country finish

Sports writer

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Clovis High’s girls have established program-bests with sixth-place finishes each of the last two years in then-Class 5A state cross country competition.

On Saturday, in what is now 6A, the Lady Wildcats hope to better that standard in competition set for 1:35 p.m. at Rio Rancho H.S.

Coach Mark Bussen said each runner essentially has to take care of her own business.

“Our real goal is to win a trophy (top three),” he said. “But if we come away with (fifth or better), that would be great.”

CHS will have three runners in the 6A boys race, scheduled for 11 a.m. — senior Jose Salgado and sophomores Harrison Rikel and Braydon Sowell.

The Lady Cats, led by freshman Kelsey McNaughton and sophomores Catherine Hisel and Mya Borwick, have won eight of their nine meets this season. They finished third, behind Eldorado and Cibola, in the Highland Invitational.

Bussen said Eldorado should be the favorite, assuming the Eagles are healthy.

“We’ve had a good week of workouts,” he said. “Their legs are fresh and I know our mindset is good.”

Borwick said it’s up to everyone to put her best foot forward.

“You just have to do the best you can and really enjoy it,” she said. “We really want to get fourth or fifth (as a team), and get our top two or three in the top 10 (individually).”

Whatever happens, the Lady Cats appear to be in good shape for the next year or two. They are losing only one runner to graduation.

“We have a really young team, which is really good,” Borwick said.

Bussen is hoping junior Emily Gonzales, held out of last week’s District 4-6A meet with a stained hamstring, is able to run at or near 100 percent. He says he hopes McNaughton and Hisel can break into the top 15 and the top five runners can all finish in the top 35.

The boys hope to put a solid finish to what has been a rebuilding season.

“I’m excited to run this weekend,” said Rikel, who has been the team’s top runner most of the time this fall. “I’m ready to see what we can do.

“I’ve had a pretty good year. I’ve matured a lot from last year. I think (running distances during) track (season) really helped me.”

Bussen is also looking forward to seeing what the boys do.

“I think he’s probably been our most consistent runner,” Bussen said of Rikel. “And I think Jose, as a senior, kind of has something to prove.”