Cleveland’s boys and Eldorado’s girls are defending Class 5A champions, and both will have a strong chance to repeat at the New Mexico state cross country meet on Saturday at Rio Rancho High School.
The first of eight state championship races, the Class 3A girls, goes off at 9:30 a.m. That is followed by 4A at 10, 5A at 10:30 and the 1A-2A field at 11 a.m.
The 3A boys start at 11:35, followed at 12:05 p.m. by 4A. The 5A race, in which La Cueva’s Stevie Salas is generally considered the favorite, starts at 12:35 p.m.
The final race of the day is the 1A-2A boys at 1:05 p.m.
The 5A girls could feature one of the best individual clashes of the day, as Eldorado senior Jasmine Turtle-Morales, the defending champ, battles Cleveland freshman Leah Futey. They went 1-2 at state last year, have been 5A’s best two runners and have traded victories all season. Futey is the Albuquerque metro champ, but Turtle-Morales came back the next week to beat Futey at the Rio Rancho Jamboree.
In 4A, the most anticipated team showdown, as almost always, is the matchup between Albuquerque Academy’s boys and Los Alamos. They met most recently two weeks ago at the Hilltoppers’ meet, where the Chargers beat Los Alamos, 25-46.
Individual title contenders for the Academy boys include Justin Hickey, Julian Garcia and Oliver Pilon. Hope Christian’s Eric Scharton is going to be a major factor in this race, as well. Scharton has had an outstanding season, and he finished second to La Cueva’s Salas at the Jamboree.
Cottonwood Classical Prep, led by Justin Howey, has a strong chance for a trophy in 3A.
Eldorado’s girls are the 5A favorite. The 4A girls favorite is Los Alamos, paced by Norissa Valdez, Sophie Chadwick, Emma Montoya and Lidia Appell, who all placed in the top 20 at state last season.
NOTES: The New Mexico Activities Association is doing something different this year. It will do its awards presentation immediately after each race, rather than doing them all together after the final race.
• In a rarity, the Futey siblings from Cleveland, Leah and Lucas, won District 1-5A titles last weekend for the Storm. Luke Futey finished 13th at state a year ago. The top 10 in each race Saturday earn All-State honors. … Tickets Saturday are $10 for adults and $5 for students/military.