Steven West’s memories of Bullhead Park go much further back than when he became a dominating cross country runner at Sandia High School.
The Matadors’ stellar senior used to come to this place as a young boy to watch his cousins race in Highland High’s annual meet. They represented part of his inspiration to run.
And now, West has come to own this course the last couple of years.
West successfully defended his 2021 title at Friday’s APS Invitational, cruising to a 47-second victory on a warm but comfortable afternoon on Albuquerque’s south side.
West’s winning time over 5 kilometers was 16 minutes, 2.54 seconds. It was about eight seconds off the current course record that he established a year ago.
But West dominated the field Friday, with Cleveland’s Caden Nunn (16:49.47) a distant second.
“He’s a fast guy,” Nunn said of West.
West, the defending Class 5A state champion, pulled away from everyone about midway through the race.
“I’m trying to push it every race,” said West, “just get a little faster.”
West admitted he is not 100% physically; he was under the weather and had to miss the recent Rio Rancho Jamboree.
“Which I didn’t want to do,” he said. “But I think that might be a good thing, so I peak a little later.”
The Albuquerque Metro Championships are next Saturday at Nusenda Community Stadium, and Albuquerque Academy – the site for the state meet on Nov. 5 – hosts the pre-state extravaganza meet on Oct. 15.
“We’re getting into the meets that count,” said Nunn, who led the Storm to the boys team victory. “It’s ‘go’ time now. We’ll see who the frontrunners are for state.”
Stoney Cutchen of Volcano Vista finished third individually, followed by Antwon Shendo of Cleveland and Justin Peterson of Manzano.
The Storm had four of the top eight runners as it pertains to the team standings – Jonathan Sanchez was seventh, Vince Madalena eighth – and scored 32 points. Next was Academy (67) and Sandia (77).
GIRLS: Albuquerque High sophomore Dani Figueroa’s margin of victory was much slimmer than West’s, as she beat Katie Patton of Academy by roughly 10 seconds.
Figueroa’s time was 19:13.44. Patton finished in 19:23.86. Those two and Volcano Vista’s Carysa Marquez, who was third, were the leaders throughout.
“I knew if I could get a lead,” Figueroa said, “I could probably keep it in the second part (of the course).”
Addison Julian of Academy and Eliana Rivera of Cleveland rounded out the top five. Academy’s girls (33) won the team title, followed by Cleveland (47) and AHS (84).
NOTES: For those hoping to see Hope Christian senior standout Rendon Kuykendall soon, his 2022 debut is on the horizon, his coach, Shane Cleveland, said Friday. Kuykendall has been dealing with an injury that has kept him off the course all season. But it is believed he will return sometime in October.
… Cleveland senior standout Leah Futey did not compete Friday. She was competing at a prestigious race Friday night in Phoenix.
Friday — at Bullhead Park
Team: Cleveland 32, Albuquerque Academy 67, Sandia 77, Volcano Vista 91, Eldorado 116, Albuquerque High 158, Manzano 184, Rio Grande 226.
Individual: 1, Steven West, Sandia, 16;02.56; 2, Caden Nunn, Cleveland, 16:49.47; 3, Stoney Cutchen, Volcano Vista, 16:55.73; 4, Antwon Shendo, Cleveland, 16:56.51; 5, Justin Peterson, Manzano, 16:57.43; 6, Cameron Shorty, Albuquerque Academy, 17:02.38; 7, Jonathon Sanchez, Cleveland, 17:05.93; 8, Vince Madalena, Cleveland, 17:08.13; 9, Nate Klein, Albuquerque Academy, 17:08.54; 10, Hayden Prescott, Albuquerque Academy, 17:21.0.
Team: Albuquerque Academy 33, Cleveland 47, Albuquerque High 84, Volcano Vista 88, Sandia 114, Eldorado 140.
Individual: 1, Dani Figueroa, AHS, 19:13.44; 2, Katie Patton, Academy, 19:23.86; 3, Carysa Marquez, Volcano Vista, 19:43.20; 4, Addison Julian, Academy, 19:56.57; 5, Eliana Rivera, Cleveland, 20:20.13; 6, Samantha Schuh, Manzano, 20:31.94; 7, Anna Hasting, Academy, 20:35.26; 8, KC Winters, Cleveland, 20:42.86; 9, Emma Babb, Sandia, 20:56.25; 10, Isabella Barnes, Academy, 21:03.28.