On this there must be a total consensus: Jordan Lesansee’s offseason program was an unqualified success.
The Albuquerque Academy junior saw months of work pay off in a big way on Saturday morning, as Lesansee was a dominant winner at the University of New Mexico Lobo Invitational at the UNM North Golf Course.
“I’m beyond happy right now,” said Lesansee.
He was joined by Cleveland’s Amanda Mayoral as champions of the season-opening cross-country prep event. For full results, see page C2.
Lesansee made it clear that he was ready to take on last year’s champ, Niles Thomas of Miyamura, and he wasn’t kidding. His offseason training had Lesansee feeling fresh and vibrant in the latter stages of the race, and he pulled away from a four-runner pack over the final mile and finished in 16 minutes, 9.54 seconds.
His kick was so strong, he finished 22 seconds ahead of his nearest pursuer.
“We have a saying at the Academy: take the lead when you’re ready to win,” said Lesansee, who started off the lead, before working his way toward the front.
Thomas was the state’s pre-eminent runner last season and the Class 5A state champ as a junior. Lesansee earlier this week said he felt he had closed the gap on Thomas over the summer. Neck-and-neck, was how Lesansee described the margin between the two.
On Saturday, it was more than a few necks. And a whole lot of strides.
Thomas was in the lead pack most of the way – as was his Miyamura teammate Nicholas Jameson, Rio Rancho’s Devin Paredes and Lesansee – but he couldn’t match Lesansee’s strength down the stretch, and was placed third in a time of 16:36.05. That was more than 30 seconds off the time he posted to win this meet a year ago.
“It’s not my best,” Thomas said. He said stomach cramps gave him some issues, and vowed he’d return the favor to Lesansee soon. “I’m not that worried. We still have nine (races) to go.”
Lesansee said when he cleared his mind near the finish, that’s when he pulled away.
“I just stopped thinking about the race, and just acted,” he said. “I had nothing in my mind. Just me, and the last 2,000 meters.”
It was an impressive start to 2015.
“His moves were definitely killer,” said Paredes (16:31.86). “I tried to stick with him, but he’s so tough.”
Thomas and Lesansee likely will next meet at Academy’s meet in a couple of weeks.
Rio Rancho captured the team title, scoring 46 points. Academy (88) and Eldorado (131) were next.
Mayoral, a Cleveland sophomore, on Saturday won the first varsity race of her career.
The entire day, especially during the 19 minutes and 9.33 seconds that she was on the course, she was thinking of her biggest fan – her mother, Jessica Preston, who recently was diagnosed with breast cancer and has begun radiation treatments.
She couldn’t be there to watch her daughter on Saturday.
“I was just running for her,” Mayoral said. “Not having my biggest cheerleader here is pretty tough.”
Belen senior Arena Lewis was second, in a time of 19:22.45.
In the lead pack, which also included third-place finisher Madison Foley of Los Alamos, Lewis had planned to kick first in the final kilometer of the 5K race.
Mayoral beat her to the punch.
“I started to see Arena slow down a little, and I was like, ‘why not?’ ” Mayoral said. “I took a chance.”
A chance Lewis wished she had taken.
“I was like, ‘crud,’ ” Lewis said with a laugh as she realized Mayoral had gotten the jump on her. “I tried, but she just has way too strong of a kick. I didn’t make my move soon enough. She was gone.”
The team competition was crazy close.
Los Alamos’ 80 points were one ahead of Academy (81) and three ahead of Rio Rancho (83).
This year, there was no college race due to a logistical problem. The Lobos instead raced on Friday in Ruidoso at Texas Tech’s meet, as did New Mexico State.