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5A runners have ‘off-day’ at state meet

5A runners have ‘off-day’ at state meet


At the pre-state meet in mid-October, the Class 5A runners were pacing at or near the 16-minute mark.

On Saturday, the runners in the largest school classification were far behind that threshold at the 2021 state meet, which was run on a slightly different course.

“Everyone had an off-day,” Albuquerque High runner Bahozhoni Church said. “Everyone’s time was behind like 20, 30 seconds, even the state champ.”

Sandia junior Steven West won 5A title in 16 minutes, 0.16 seconds, which was 31 seconds off his pre-state mark he set last month.

As for Church, the Diné and Pokagon Band Pottawatomie runner clocked in at 16:41.27, which placed him seventh overall.

“I’m happy that I got another state medal,” Church said, while adding that it was odd that top 5A runners ran at a slower pace.

“I think it’s just mental fatigue from the whole season,” the AHS senior said. “Everyone has their own thing going on, and I have my own thing going on, so this has been quite a ride this season.

“I’ve had a bunch of ups and downs,” he added, “but it’s good that I finished in the top ten.”

At pre-state, Church took seventh and on Saturday he finished in the same spot.

“I was going in with the plan to get top three,” he said. “With my time at pre-state (16:19.10) I would have gotten third place. Today was just off for me and everyone else.

“My health felt good,” he continued. “It was just fatigued legs and you can’t really do anything about it.”

Rio Rancho Cleveland runner Cody Toya said in that first mile the lead pack was running conservatively.

“The first mile I think I heard 5:13,” Toya said, who is a member of the Jemez Pueblo and Jicarilla Apache tribes.

“I ended up running a seventeen-flat, so I knew that it wasn’t as fast,” he said.

Toya actually crossed the finish line at 17:03.66, which earned him All-State laurels as he placed 10th overall.

“To be honest I wanted to finish in the top three, or top five,” Toya said.

The Cleveland squad was looking for a five-peat in the team championships. The Storms placed third with 98 points behind state champ Volcano Vista (59) and reserve champion Rio Rancho (93).

“At least we got something,” Toya said. “We’ve been doing well these past couple of weeks and we got third.”

The Storms lost the service of junior Blayne Howell (Northern Arapaho) who was carted into the stadium with an injury.

“He’s a big piece of our team,” Toya said. “He’s our third runner.”

Piedra Vista junior Anthony Murillo took 47th and his teammate Seth Leslie placed 59th in a race that featured 117 runners.

In the girls race, Rio Rancho junior Violet Francisco (Diné) placed 19th overall, helping the Lady Rams to a runner-up finish in the team standings.

Volcano Vista won the meet with 62 points while Rio Rancho tallied 80.

Piedra Vista’s Makenzie Yazzie was the area’s top finisher as she took 24th overall.

Sophomore Madison Germaine, who placed 34th, paced Farmington. As a team, the Lady Scorps took ninth with a team score of 237 points.

About The Author

Quentin Jodie

Quentin Jodie is the Sports Editor for the Navajo Times. He started working for the Navajo Times in February 2010 and was promoted to the Sports Editor position at the end of summer in 2012. Previously, he wrote for the Gallup Independent. Reach him at


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