The general sentiment was, this is going to be the first of many titles for Carysa Marquez.
Volcano Vista High School’s highly-touted freshman overtook Cleveland’s Leah Futey in the final 10 meters Friday evening to capture the St. Pius Super Cinco cross country meet.
Marquez joined Hope Christian junior Rendon Kuykendall as winners on a calm, overcast evening on the West Side.
Marquez was the runner-up to Futey at the large, season-opening meet at Cleveland six days previous.
And Futey, through the first of two loops around the St. Pius X campus (a relatively short 2.64-mile course), was leading Marquez on Friday.
“She started to get a bit of separation (on the second loop),” said Marquez.
But with roughly half a mile remaining, Marquez began to move on Futey. As the pair climbed a hill toward the last few grassy meters of the race, Marquez overtook Futey as the District 1-5A rivals staged a fantastic finish.
Marquez was mobbed by Volcano Vista teammates, boys and girls alike, to celebrate her thrilling victory.
“I was so excited,” Marquez said. “I wasn’t expecting it at all.”
Marquez finished in 15 minutes, 13.48 seconds. Futey’s time was 15:14.00. Ellary Battle of Alamogordo was 23 seconds behind Marquez and Futey and placed a distant third, with Ariana Thiel-Hadjilambrinos of La Cueva and Ava Stratton of Albuquerque High rounding out the top five.
But the day belonged to Marquez.
“I just went into it not having high expectations of myself,” the soft-spoken Marquez said. “I just wanted to stay with (Futey) longer than I did last week.”
Volcano Vista was the girls team champion, followed by AHS, Cottonwood Classical Prep, Cleveland and Eldorado. The teams were ranked based on the lowest cumulative times of their five combined runners.
The Super Cinco sends the No. 5 runners off first, then the 4s, then the 3s, the 2s and finally the No. 1 runners. The No. 1 boys started first, with the girls going a few minutes later.
Kuykendall, last spring’s Class 4A state champion and arguably New Mexico’s best overall male runner this fall, sparkled in his season debut.
He was never threatened at any point in the race, as he finished in 13:02.01.
“This is such a fun meet,” he said. “This is one of the favorite meets for us.”
Kuykendall won the Super Cinco No. 2s race two years ago as a freshman.
The course being about four-tenths of a mile shorter than an average cross country layout allowed runners to push the pace a little more without fear of hitting a late wall.
“I can dig a little deeper,” Kuykendall said. “I don’t have to save too much toward the end.”
Not that this was an issue, since runner-up Steven West of Sandia (13:21.80) was 19 seconds behind Kuykendall. West also had a strong showing last week at Cleveland, placing fourth.
Celso Garcia of Alamogordo was third, with Naseem Dhaouadi of Eldorado fourth and Tucker Scott of Sandia fifth. Scott was sixth at Cleveland.
Kuykendall was nursing an injury during the spring track season, he said, and as a result he was about a month behind in training for the cross country season. But he figures to be the pre-race favorite just about anywhere he runs this fall in New Mexico.
“I’ve put in some great work the last couple of weeks,” he said.
Next for him is a race in Phoenix in two weeks.
Eldorado’s boys were the team champion, followed by Volcano Visa, Zuni, Sandia and Organ Mountain.