Zuni boys stake claim at home meet
By Quentin Jodie
ZUNI, N.M., Oct. 17, 2013
(Times photos – Donovan Quintero)
The T-birds finished the 13-team invite with 46 points by packing its five scoring members in the top 14 headed by the third-place and seventh-place finishes by juniors Alex Eustace (17:17) and Tre' Riley (17:31).
The host team also got a ninth-place effort turned in by Jeron Chavez (17:46), a 13th place from Ty Pinto (18:03) and a 14th place from Cody Latone (18:06).
Laguna-Acoma, meanwhile, finished with 71 points in the team race, which was 43 points better than Miyamura.
Last November the Hawks won its 22nd state crown at the New Mexico Class 2A state cross-country championships.
To some degree, Saturday's win validates the T-Bird's place among the frontrunners of 2A, but Zuni coach Chris Carroll downplayed its significance.
"We have a long way to go until the end of the season but we're going to keep running the way we're running," Carroll said.
"We just need to be patient. We don't talk about state in practice and all we look at is the meet to come."
Carroll expects the Hawks to bounce back as both teams are scheduled to compete in the same meets for the next four weeks starting with Saturday's race in Rio Rancho, N.M., at the Jamboree.
"Coach (Mel) Otero is a great coach," Carroll said of the longtime Laguna-Acoma coach. "He does a good job and he knows how to finish."
Individually, Niles Thomas won his second consecutive meet as the Miyamura sophomore toured the 5K-race in 16:39.
Two weeks ago he won the Gallup Invitational by beating Window Rock standout Nathaniel Henio by three seconds.
Unfortunately, a rematch was not on the agenda as Henio pulled out of the race on Saturday due to an illness.
Nonetheless, Thomas got a challenge from Isaiah Kelsey as the Laguna-Acoma senior crossed the finish line in second place with a time of 16:55.
"It was a good race because he's got a lot talent," Thomas said of Kelsey.
Unlike his tactic two weeks ago, Thomas said he set the pace from start to finish and won the Zuni meet by 16 seconds.
"I wasn't expecting to do that because I'm usually behind Henio," Thomas said.
As for Kelsey, his strategy was to catch Thomas in the final yards.
"That was my main goal but he beat me by a good 25 yards," Kelsey said.
"He was too far ahead of me to catch him."
After Kelsey's second-place finish, the Hawks also had Augustus Cuch (17:25) and Justin Henio (17:55) make the top 10 with Cuch placing sixth.
Other top individual finishers include Alex Heffelfinger (17:18) as the Albuquerque East Mountain runner placed fourth.
He finished four spots ahead of Leandrew Dailey as the Navajo Prep runner finished the race in 17:45.
Dailey paced the Eagles to a fourth place finish in the team standings with 121 points as they edged Santa Fe Prep by a mere point.
With 124 points, East Mountain placed sixth ahead of Window Rock (196), Rehoboth (231), Navajo Pine (267), Tohatchi (300), Crownpoint (335), Quemado (343) and Sanders Valley (346).
As defending state champs, Kelsey said a lot of teams are going to be gunning for them at this weekend's Jamboree.
"We've accomplished a lot in the last three years by winning state so we have a target on our backs," he said. "But we're not the same team. We lost a lot of seniors."
Nonetheless, Kelsey said he's looking forward to competing at the Jamboree, which will serve as a dress rehearsal for the next month's state cross-country meet.
With back-to-back wins, Thomas is also anxious about taking part of the meet in Rio Rancho.
"I'm going to give it my best and see what happens," the Miyamura ace runner said.