State titles handed out in Cross-Country Championship meet

Steven Bortstein
Farmington Daily Times

ALBUQUERQUE — The state's best high school distance runners competed this weekend in the State Cross-Country Championships at Albuquerque Academy, with some local runners earning individual honors.

In Class 5A, Volcano Vista High School's boys and girls teams swept the team categories, each of them edging out Rio Rancho and Cleveland High School in the finals. 

Similarly in Class 4A, Los Alamos captured the blue trophy in both the boys and girls team competition. The Hilltoppers boys team getting past Albuquerque Academy and Hope Christian while the girls team beat Albuquerque Academy and St. Pius.

In Class 3A, the Zuni boys team took the team title from Tohatchi and Cottonwood Classical Prep. In the girls race, Cottonwood Classical Prep achieved the team victory, finishing ahead of Santa Fe Prep and Santa Fe Indian School.

Here's a look at some of the individual achievements in the New Mexico Activity Association's cross-country competition.

Class 3A

Melvin Scott Jr., from Tohatchi won the boys individual race, competing the 5K course in 16 minutes, 35.54 seconds, in a thrilling contest ahead of Zuni's Kameron Eustace, who lost by just three-hundredths of a second. 

Lance Miller (16:50.13) from New Mexico Military Institute took third place, while Navajo Prep's Devin Lansing (17:14) checked in fourth across the wire. 

In girls competition, St. Michael's Raylee Hunt (19:12.14) dominated her rivals, winning her race by more than a minute over runner-up Aubrey Lozoya from Cottonwood Classical Prep (20:14.11).  

Navajo Prep's Nicole Tsosie (21:17.05) finished tenth in the event, helping the Eagles finish ninth overall in the event. Navajo Prep was also represented by 40th place finisher Harmony Boone (24:08.94) and 46th place finisher McKenzie Ashley-Willie (24:38.03)

Class 4A

Cottonwood Classical Prep's Girls Cross-Country team poses for photos after winning the Class 3A state team title Saturday at Albuquerque Academy.

Hope Christian's Rendon Kuykendall won his state championship race, pulling clear midway in the 5K event and crossing the wire with a final time of 15 minutes, 24.9 seconds, well ahead of Los Alamos' Keith Bridge (15:41.9). 

The Hilltoppers were represented well in the race's top five finishers. Behind second-place finisher Bridge were Ryan Aldaz (16:27) and Morgan Schaller (16:32.78) with Albuquerque Academy's Joaquin Deprez (16.53.36) rounding out the top five.

Among locally based runners, Shiprock's Logan Pioche (17:11.06) finished the race in 11th place with O'Rye Franklin (17:32.48) checking in 16th. The Chieftains earned a fifth-place finish in team competition.

A total of 131 runners competed in the boys individual race for the Class 4A title.

Dathan Esson (17:58.25) led the charge for Kirtland Central, finishing 25th, while Noah Higgins (18:14.50) from Aztec High School finished 30th, one spot ahead of 31st place finished Javen Chavez (18:15.35) from Bloomfield High School.

Kirtland Central's team was seventh overall.

In girls competition, Los Alamos High School's Delaney Ulrich and Kelly Wetteland finished one second apart from each other as the Hilltoppers placed five runners in the race's top 11 spots.

Ulrich won the race with a final time of 18 minutes, 56.33 seconds, taking the individual race ahead of Wetteland (18:57.34). Those two were followed by third place finisher by Emma Patton (19:13.82) from Albuquerque Academy. 

Kirtland Central's Aisha Ramone (19:20.45) finished fourth in the individual event, helping the Broncos finish fourth overall in the team category. The Broncos were also represented by 33rd place finisher Kaiden Esson (22:15.98) and Kamyra Goldtooth (22:40.52), who finished 47th among 121 starters.

The Shiprock Chieftains finished sixth overall, led by 12th place finisher Kaydence Platero (20:29.05) as well as 35th place finisher Brianna Whitehorse (22:13.30) and Haleigh Bigman (22:14.74), who finished 36th.

Aztec was led by 27th place finisher Autumn Villanueva (21:45.57).

Class 5A

Organ Mountain senior Brett Bybee leads the pack and comes in first place in the District 3-5A Cross Country Meet held at Organ Mountain High School in Las Cruces on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021.

Sandia High School's Steven West (16:00.16) ran past his competition and took top individual honors in the Class 5A cross-country championships, beating Rio Rancho's Dawson Gunn (16:13.85) by more than 13 seconds. 

Organ Mountain's Brett Bybee (16:20.2) finished third, with Aiden Davis (16:24.91) finishing fourth from Volcano Vista High School and Sandia's Isaac Tucker (16:40.6) rounding out the top five. 

Piedra Vista's Seth Leslie (18:37.97) was the top local runner in the event, placing 59th out of 117 starters.

In the girls event, Alamogordo High School's Ellary Battle took the individual honors, beating Daniela Figueroa from Albuquerque Academy by more than 25 seconds.

Battle (18 minutes, 53.47 seconds) helped Alamogordo achieve a fifth place overall finish, while Figueroa (19:20.29) and teammate and third-place finisher Ava Stratton (19:32.62) aided the Chargers to finish sixth overall.

Of the 118 starters in the event, Piedra Vista's Makenzie Yazzie (21:26.72) finished 24th overall while Farmington's Madison Germaine (22:00.13) finished 34th.

For complete results and more information on the 2021 Cross Country State Championships, visit the official NMAA website.

Steve Bortstein can be reached via email at SBortstein@Gannett.com, via Twitter @DTSBortstein or on the phone at (505) 635-2680.