Maldonado captures boys race
Last updated 3/13/2021 at 4:20pm
CLOVIS - Clovis High senior Jerrick Maldonado expected he'd face some competition in Saturday's CHS cross country quad meet at Ned Houk Park. He just wasn't sure how much.
Pushed to the finish by Portales High sophomore Michael Riess, Maldonado outsprinted him at the end to win the 3.1-mile (5K) event in 17 minutes, 25.58 seconds. Riess finished in 17:27.95.
Maldonado, who missed the Wildcats' meet at New Mexico Military the previous week while quarantining, gave up a Class 5A state title to Piedra Vista senior Triston Charles in November 2019 because he believed Charles had actually won the race.
Now, he has designs on winning it in this spring's COVID-shortened campaign.
"In a regular cross country season, you would work up to a certain mileage," Maldonado said. "But I don't think this year you'll be able to do that."
Only two of the four schools - Lovington and Portales - had full boys and girls squads, while Clovis and Roswell Goddard were shorthanded. Lovington defeated the Rams and Lady Rams for team titles.
Maldonado was one of only three CHS boys and one girl who raced on Saturday as most of the team had to quarantine following a positive test result after the NMMI meet. In the absence of coach Liz Ledezma, former CHS coach Mark Bussen led the team and oversaw the meet.
"It's so hard to gauge," Bussen said of the results. "Jerrick is one of the top returning runners in the state, and he had to quarentine for 10 days. Given the environment, I was pleased with his performance."
Riess ran stride-for-stride with Maldonado for most of the race.
"Speed wasn't going to win this race," Maldonado said of the windy conditions. "It was more about strategy.
"I've kept my shape pretty good (during his quarantine), but I wouldn't say I'm in peak cross country shape."
On the girls' side, no one could keep up with Lovington junior Vanessa Gallegos, who clocked 20:40.35. Lady Rams freshman Emma Hurren and sophomore Zoe Roy finished 2-3 with times of 23:13.20 and 24:46.01.
PHS coach Laura McNeill said she's happy with the progress her squads are making.
"Every meet we go to, we're glad to be able to (field) a team," she said. "We're proud; it's been a great year. We're building some great runners, and a team that really likes each other."
It was the best outing of the season for Roy.
"I felt really good about my past two races," she said. "I'm really happy with where my teammates and I (are).
"We've worked really hard. This meet was challenging, but it was really fun."
Clovis and Portales enter postseason competition this Saturday, with the Cats and Lady Cats competing in District 4-5A at Hobbs and the Rams and Lady Rams traveling to Lovington for the District 4-4A meet.