Miyamura, Shiprock runners lead area teams in Jamboree

By Sunnie Clahchischiligi
Navajo Times

RIO RANCHO, N.M., Oct. 24, 2013

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(Times photos - Sunnie Clahchischiligi)

TOP: A Window Rock Scouts runner leads the varsity pack down the hill during the Rio Rancho Jamboree held on Oct. 19. The Jamboree is home to the state cross-country course and is considered to be a preview meet of the state competition.

MIDDLE: Miyamura’s Niles Thomas paces himself down a hill during the Rio Rancho Jamboree held Oct. 19. Thomas finished in 5th place with at time of 16:27.97 in the championship division of the meet.

BOTTOM: A Window Rock runner turns a corner with a pack during the Rio Rancho Jamboree. The meet invites all of New Mexico's top high school cross-country runners.

There is nothing like a good race to show where you stand as a runner.

Some of the area's top cross country runners - and teams - learned exactly where they stand against other teams in the state this past weekend at the Rio Rancho Jamboree held Oct. 19 at Rio Rancho High.

Runners like Miyamura's No. 1 runner Niles Thomas and Shiprock's Cassandra Peters found that they measured up to New Mexico's elite.

"It says that I'm probably a legit runner," Thomas said about his fifth-place Jamboree finish.

"It says that I can compete with the big boys here."

Thomas finished with a time of 16:27.97 in a pool of 199 runners in the championship boy's division of the meet, held on the state cross country course.

He was the only area runner to meet the National Silver Standard, which are runners who have completed a 5K run in 16:30 or less.

The Jamboree was split into six categories: the junior varsity boy's and girl's races, the varsity boys and girls, and the championship boys and girls.

The championship division was designed to showcase the best-of-the-best runners in the state regardless of class.

Niles said he started the race a little sluggish and racing ahead of the pack of more than 100 runners was difficult.

He said he excelled in most areas of the race that he had hoped to, but found it difficult to find a comfortable spot on the course.

"It was kind of hard because they (other runners) would elbow you and stuff as you try to get into your position, (as you try to) get in the groove," he said.

The sophomore runner ran the course last year in the Jamboree and again at the state meet but is convinced this weekend's performance was his best.

"I feel good that I came in top 10 over here in this big competition, there's probably more than a 100 runners here," he said.

Peters, who placed 30th with a time of 20:18.40, was the first of the local female runners to cross the finish line.

Having spent most of the season looking to improve in every aspect of her run, she finally felt a sense of accomplishment.

"I did amazingly -- pretty good," she said.

"I surprised myself with how far I was up ahead and how my team was settling into their places."

Having run the course at last year's Jamboree and state meet, Peters said she knew to expect difficulty when it came to the soft-sand portion of the course.

She added that before the race she walked the course in search of some hard spots that might make it easier, but it wasn't much help.

"The girls with their elbows, it was not that easy," she said.

"It's better to stay in the outside (of the pack) than the inside."

Peters said she was happy with her individual performance but her concentration is still heavy on the team effort.

As a team, Shiprock placed 11th overall.

The 3A reigning state champs are looking to repeat this year, and after last week, Peters feels confident that they can.

"We'll be a better team," she said. "We'll have to get closer in order for us to stay together and just hope for the best."

Shiprock's second runner Lacey Howe said her and the team need to continue to look to Peters for guidance if they want to be successful.

"I'm just trying to keep our team as a pack," said Howe, who finished with a time of 20:34.15 and placed 39th overall.

Laguna Acoma's top runner and senior Augustus Cuch lead his team with a 9th-place finish with at time of 16:41.29, and came in second for the area runners.

Cuch said though the meet is considered a place to see how one does leading up to the state meet, he was just looking to get in another good race.

"I just told everybody (on the team) before we started, "Just do your best, have fun,'" Cuch said. "Don't worry about anything."

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