The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Maldonado wins 5A boys meet

 

November 10, 2019

Donn Friedman (Albuquerque Journal)

Clovis' Jerrick Maldonado won the Class 5A state cross country meet Saturday at Rio Rancho High School.

RIO RANCHO — Clovis High’s boys didn’t attain their goal of a team trophy, but the Wildcats did claim an individual champion in Saturday’s Class 5A state cross country competition.

Junior Jerrick Maldonado outlasted the field in a four-way battle at Rio Rancho High School to claim the program’s first individual state championship on Saturday, finishing with a time of 16 minutes, 7.65 seconds. Meantime, senior T.J. Gregg finished fourth for the Cats in 16:19.45.

Team scores were not available at press time, but CHS coach Mark Bussen said he thought his squad had finished somewhere between seventh and ninth. Rio Rancho Cleveland successfully defended its team title.

For the Lady Wildcats, senior Anni Hamlett earned all-state honors (top 20), placing 18th in the 5A girls race with a time of 20:35.10 as Clovis finished 12th in team competition with 356 points.

Maldonado, fourth in last year’s state race, had his sights set on winning it this time.

“It was pretty tough,” he said of the course. “You could be the strongest runner, but if you’re not mentally tough it can break you.”

The Cats’ other five runners all finished between 62nd and 96th. They had hoped to notch a trophy (top-three finish) going in after claiming second place in last year’s meet.

“Other than (senior) Kannon (Brooks), those other guys had never run on this course,” Bussen said. “I thought it was good experience for them. They came in a little nervous, and that takes a little energy out of you.”

Maldonado said inexperience was a factor for the squad.

“Our team is really young,” he said. “For most of them, it was their first time (on the course). Hopefully, next year we can take all that experience and use it.”

For the girls, Hamlett moved up 13 places from her finish of a year ago.

“It was a good race for her,” Bussen said. “She got boxed in a little bit early, or she might have knocked down a few more places.”

Eldorado took the girls’ team title with 48 points to 77 for Volcano Vista. Cleveland, which had the individual champion in Leah Futey at 18:26.45, finished third as a team with 99 points.

The Lady Cats were not able to put anyone else above 78th. Still, Bussen noted they moved up a notch from a year ago in the team standings.

“This year, I didn’t feel like our girls would be (as) competitive, and we were 12th, so I was happy with that,” he said.

In Class 4A, the second-year Portales program qualified three runners for state. For the boys, freshman Michael Riess placed 35th in a field of 119 runners with a time of 17:49.20, while junior Brandon Guerro was 57th in 18:50.40. Aliyah Mrianda was 71st in the girl’s competition at 23:06.

“It was a great race,” Portales coach Laura McNeill said. “We can definitely see how we want to train as a school.”

McNeill said racing at Rio Rancho High’s course was “eye-opening” given its contrast to most of the courses Portales saw during the season.

“We don’t have a lot of hills to train with in Portales,” McNeill said. “We look forward to figuring out how to rectify that for training.”

Los Alamos finished with 30 points to win the 4A girls title, while team results in 4A boys and 3A and 1-2A girls and boys were not available at press time. Individual winners in 4A were Julian Garcia of Albuquerque Academy in 16:04.75 for the boys, and Norissa Valdez of Los Alamos in 18:47.00 for the girls.

 
 

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