RIO RANCHO – Pulling away from the pack is no small trick at the massive Rio Rancho Cross Country Jamboree. Nonetheless, Kashon Harrison and Amanda Mayoral pulled it off.
Harrison, a junior at Kirtland Central, and Mayoral, a senior at Cleveland, bolted to big early leads and took impressive victories in the respective boys and girls championship divisions Saturday at Rio Rancho High.
Harrison built a large enough lead to fend off Volcano Vista’s Jericho Cleveland by 5 seconds, while Mayoral continued to build her margin all the way to the finish line. She came across 32 seconds ahead of runner-up Jasmine Turtle-Morales of Eldorado.
Both Harrison and Mayoral hold course records on the hilly course that winds through and around Rio Rancho’s campus. The high school state championship meet will be held there on Nov. 4.
Neither runner managed to better his or her record times Saturday, but both were satisfied with victories in a large field that included many of the state’s top teams, regardless of classification. A total of 193 boys ran in the championship division, while 196 competed in the girls’ top race. In all, 1,681 varsity and JV runners hit the course in eight races.
“Today, the plan was just to get the lead and stay there,” Harrison said. “I noticed (Cleveland) was gaining on me but I felt great. It was fun.”
Harrison, who finished the 5K course in 15 minutes, 50.70 seconds, was behind the 15:27.40 pace he set at last year’s Jamboree. The junior finished second to Albuquerque Academy’s Jordan Lesansee at the 2016 Class 5A state meet but has been dominant around the region this fall. He’s ranked fifth nationally, according to MileSplit.com.
Volcano Vista’s Cleveland fell well behind Harrison early Saturday before steadily closing the gap.
“That was my strategy to let him go and gain gradually,” Cleveland said. “Maybe I was too conservative in that third mile, but Kashon’s an excellent runner.”
Mayoral, the two-time defending Class 6A champion, said she hoped to chase down the course record (18:12.0) she set at the 2015 state meet. It didn’t happen as she crossed in 18:38.0 on Saturday.
But like Harrison, Mayoral was largely satisfied with her run and glad she was able to set the pace.
“The paths here are not the biggest,” Mayoral said, “so there’s no room to get behind. You try not to let nerves get you at the start but you can’t help noticing, ‘Man, there’s a lot of people here.’ ”
Top-rated teams from all classifications competed in the championship division, with other teams running in respective small- and large-school races. Here are those results:
BOYS: West Las Vegas’ Miguel Coca (16:31.20) finished ahead of teammate James Esquibel (16:50.20) in the large-school race. Navajo Pine teammates Michael Marshall (17:14.18) and Galvin Curley (17:14.55) were 1-2 in the small-school race.
GIRLS: Roswell’s Maritea Alvarez (20:24.50) pulled away from Grants’ Skylar Charlie (20:49.95) to take the large-school race. Peñasco’s Carly Gonzalez (20:41.5) edged Cottonwood Classical’s Rhylyn Jones (20:42.80) in a sprint to the finish in the small-school race.
There were no team scores available as of 8 p.m. Saturday.