There was one keenly interesting development Friday at the Albuquerque Academy Cross Country Invitational: the presence of defending Class 6A boys state champion Hobbs, which hasn’t run in this event in close to a decade and a half.
There was also one rather predictable development, and that was Jericho Cleveland. Volcano Vista’s senior won by nearly 33 seconds on a very windy afternoon at the Academy.
“I’m just glad it’s showing that I’m getting back into shape,” said Cleveland, whose winning time over the 5 kilometers was 15 minutes, 17.97 seconds. “At the UNM meet (to start the season), I wasn’t in as good a shape as I am now.”
Cleveland, who also won last Friday’s meet at Cleveland High in Rio Rancho, got started on his cross country training five weeks later than usual — mid-July — due to some lingering injuries that had nagged at him during the track season.
“He’s finally coming into form,” said his father, Hawks coach Shane Cleveland.
Runner-up Patrick Colborn of Hobbs was a distant second Friday. Yonas Haile of Cleveland was third and Ivan Pineda-Dominguez of Volcano Vista fifth.
Cleveland sprinted up a hill early in the race to track down Colborn. And then Cleveland pushed the pace some more, waiting to see if Colborn would go with him. He didn’t.
“I’ve still got a lot of work to do,” Cleveland said. “But I’m happy with the result today.”
Volcano Vista’s boys also won the team title, scoring 65 points. Cleveland High (71) was a close second, with Los Alamos, Eldorado and the host Chargers rounding out the top five.
The next major meet on the calendar is the Albuquerque Metro Championships on Oct. 7 at Nusenda Community Stadium.
GIRLS: St. Pius senior Jacque Piñon, who is also a state distance champion on the track, picked up one of the biggest wins of her cross country career with the Sartans.
Piñon has scholarship offers from Boston College, where she took an official visit last weekend, and the University of San Diego. On Friday, she finished in 18:18.62, about 15 seconds ahead of Eldorado’s Jasmine Turtle-Morales.
At a meet the Sartans recently hosted, it was Turtle-Morales who edged Piñon.
“I love this course,” said Piñon, who lives close by, near La Cueva High School. “I live down the street, so I train on it a lot.”
Academy (55) won the meet, and the Chargers’ Carly Wall, last year’s 5A state champion, placed fourth individually. Eldorado (78) was second, followed by Albuquerque High, led by Alisa Meriz-Fishbein, who finished in third place.
Cleveland High was fifth. The Storm competed without its best runner, Amanda Mayoral, who is in Stillwater, Okla., this weekend, taking an official visit to Oklahoma State.
Brittney Lovato, in fifth, was Cleveland’s top finisher Friday.
Albuquerque Academy Invitational
BOYS TEAM: 1, Volcano Vista 65; 2, Cleveland 71; 3, Los Alamos 115; 4, Eldorado 116; 5, Albuquerque Academy 121; 6, Hobbs 132; 7, Albuquerque High 148; 8, La Cueva 188; 9, Sandia 214; 10, Laguna-Acoma 282.
BOYS INDIVIDUAL: 1, Jericho Cleveland, Volcano Vista, 15:17.97; 2, Patrick Colborn, Hobbs, 15:50.31; 3, Yonas Haile, Cleveland, 15:56.18; 4, Rafael Sanchez, Los Alamos, 15:58.88; 5, Ivan Pineda-Dominguez, Volcano Vista, 16:03.62; 6, Harrison Smith III, Eldorado, 16:07.59; 7, David Apodaca, Cleveland, 16:08.50; 8, Peter Keller, Eldorado, 16:31.38; 9, Skylar Forman, Albuquerque Academy, 16:36.22; 10, Lane Norcross, Eldorado, 16:38.91.
GIRLS TEAM: 1, Albuquerque Academy 55; 2, Eldorado 78; 3, Albuquerque High 107; 4, Los Alamos 109; 5, Cleveland 131; 6, Volcano Vista 138; 7, Sandia 173; 8, La Cueva 191; 9, St. Pius 236; 10, Hobbs 252.
GIRLS INDIVIDUAL: 1, Jacque Piñon, St. Pius, 18:18.62; 2, Jasmine Turtle-Morales, Eldorado, 18:33.69; 3, Alisa Meraz-Fishbein, Albuquerque High, 19:01.09; 4, Carly Wall, Albuquerque Academy, 19:22.69; 5, Brittney Lovato, Cleveland, 19:26.88; 6, Norissa Valdez, Los Alamos, 19:30.18; 7, Mitzy Madrid, Hobbs, 19:30.46; 8, Jane Archibeck, Albuquerque Academy, 19:33.28; 9, Lidia Appell, Los Alamos, 19:35.03; 10, Isabella Schrader, Volcano Vista, 19:36.53.