In the days before the 2019 high school cross country season began, there had been a general consensus among prominent metro-area coaches that La Cueva junior Stevie Salas was poised to dominate the Class 5A ranks over the next two months.
Salas showed some of that highly touted form Friday evening as he raced to the finish line three seconds ahead of Hope Christian’s Eric Scharton at St. Pius’ unusually formatted but extremely popular Super Cinco meet.
With a good number of the area’s prominent schools in attendance – Albuquerque Academy was the one notable absentee – Salas covered the relatively short, flat St. Pius course in 13 minutes, 16.28 seconds.
Scharton finished in 13:19.53. The St. Pius course is about 2.7 miles, or four-tenths of a mile short of a pure 5K course.
“From start to finish, I just wanted to keep the pace stronger than I normally would,” Salas said. “I knew I had the speed advantage over these guys.”
Salas admitted that he and Scharton talked about a 1-2 finish before the race. Both were at Cleveland High’s season-opening meet in Rio Rancho six days earlier, where Salas was fourth and Scharton fifth.
Cleveland won the team competition, as its five runners combined for a time of 1 hour, 10 minutes, 38.76 seconds. The St. Pius format has each of the five scoring runners in their own race, and the team results simply add the five times.
Piedra Vista, Zuni, Volcano Vista and Sandia rounded out the top five.
GIRLS: Eldorado senior Jasmine Turtle-Morales has a huge passion for this particular meet, and the defending champion – and last year’s Class 5A state champion – won her first race of the season, winning by nearly 30 seconds over Cleveland freshman Leah Futey.
Turtle-Morales completed the race in 15:32.70. Futey crossed in 16:01.91. Futey won last weekend’s Cleveland meet on her home course, with Turtle-Morales second.
“I just wasn’t feeling very good that race,” Turtle-Morales said. “(This week), I just wanted to prepare myself for this race. I just love this course so much.”
Eldorado’s girls were three minutes better than Cleveland. The Eagles’ combined time was 1:24:38.20, with the Storm at 1:27:43.23. Cleveland was only nine seconds better than third-place Rio Rancho.
Emily Schoellkopf of AHS was third, Brynn Esplin of La Cueva fourth and Simone Chock of Hope Christian fifth individually.