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Rams, Storm finish 1-2 in Cleveland Invite boys race

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Eldorado High School’s girls and Rio Rancho’s boys won team titles Friday afternoon at the second annual Cleveland Invitational.

Rio Rancho (54) and Cleveland (60) finished 1-2 in the boys team standings.

Strangely, the Storm had three of the first five finishers; the Rams’ first runner to cross the finish line, Devin Paredes (16:12) was sixth. But RRHS (54) had a better “pack,” with the rest of its scoring harriers finishing eighth (Abran Ramos, 16:23), ninth (Troy Lawton, 16:28), 15th (Noah Dodd, 16:43) and 16th (Trevor Amestoy, 16:43).

Jared Mayoral of Cleveland won the race in 15:38, 11 seconds ahead of teammate Aaron Flores. The remainder of the Storm quintet were Preston Panana (fifth, 16:08), Hunter Watson (20th, 16:49) and Dante Padilla (32nd, 17:18).

“I give thanks to God — he’s the only reason we’re out here,” Mayoral said. “We believe in our coaches, we believe in New Mexico and the tradition of cross country.”

Mayoral said his former teammate, Luis Martinez, expected to be a redshirt this season for the Oklahoma State University distance team, has been staying in touch with him.

“He said, ‘Always keep your head high, keep yourself always north and don’t forget who you’re for,’” he said.

Perennial 4A state champ Albuquerque Academy (71) finished third in the boys team standings, followed by Eldorado (85), La Cueva (107), Volcano Vista (187), Sandia (222), Atrisco Heritage Academy (235), Albuquerque High (238), Hope Christian (243) and Highland (261).

It wasn’t enough just to finish the race for Mayoral, which marked his first victory of the season, he always felt compelled to congratulate other runners after they finished the race, run on a still, warm, late-summer afternoon.

“Sportsmanship is the most important thing in sports,” he said. “Without sportsmen, there is no sports.”

“I’m really excited about what our boys did today,” CHS coach Kenny Henry said. “We went 1-2, individually, which was a goal of ours. We had a huge race from Preston Panana; our fourth kid, Hunter Watson, in his first year at the varsity, was leaps and bounds above where he was two weeks ago.”

Led by freshman phenom Molly Klein, who finished third in 18:49 behind winner Jessie Hix (in 18:20) and EHS teammate Crissey Armberg, the Rams garnered 85 points — one more than runner-up La Cueva — and finished third. Eldorado had 25 points, with four of the first seven finishers.

“It felt like a good race – I went as fast as I could,” Klein, who began the season with a victory at the Clovis Invitational a few weeks ago, said. “I passed (Cassey Armberg, who finished fourth), but the top two I was trying to catch – not quite.

“I’m glad to be with my team and I’m glad to be racing,” the former St. Thomas Aquinas and current Cougar Track Club standout said.

The host Storm were sixth and, like the Rams, led by an underclassman — heck, an eighth-grader — as Britney Lovato finished eighth in 19:35.

Rounding out the girls field were fourth-place Albuquerque Academy (90), Volcano Vista (118), the Storm (133), Sandia (184), Hope Christian (222), Albuquerque High (273) and Atrisco Heritage Academy (286).

Pack time: The RRHS junior varsity team had the first three finishers to win the nine-team JV meet; Cleveland was second. La Cueva won the girls JV meet, where the Storm were third and the Rams were fourth.

… The Cleveland High girls track and field booster club is having a fundraising 5K run and mile walk at 9 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 13, on the CHS campus, with registration and the starting line on the soccer practice fields. Cost is $35 per entry. For more information, contact coach Tim Flores at tflores@rrps.net or 938-0636.

… The Storm run at Friday’s Academy Invitational, while the Rams run at Las Vegas Robertson on Saturday. The city’s teams compete again Oct. 4 at the APS Metro Championships at Academy.

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