Here are some New Mexico boys cross country runners to watch during the 2020 campaign
Clovis’ Jerrick Maldonado
Jerrick Maldonado was initially declared the winner in a neck-and-neck battle with Piedra Vista graduate Triston Charles at the 2019 5A boys state championships.
However, that turned out not to be the case because of a chip malfunction, and Charles was declared the winner by a measly 0.05-second margin.
Maldonado will headline an otherwise strong group of returning 5A boys runners.
Alamogordo’s Celso Garcia
Celso Garcia took third place overall (16 minutes, 12.75 seconds) at the 2019 5A boys state championships, but his average pace per mile was just a couple seconds behind Charles (16:07.60) and Maldonado (16:07.65).
More importantly, Garcia’s 2019 outing was a significant improvement from 2018, in which he took 20th overall at 17:09.00.
A state title could easily be within Garcia’s grasp this season.
Oñate’s Brett Bybee
Bybee has skyrocketed up the 5A boys leaderboard in just the last two years, going from 54th overall in 2018 to 10th overall in 2019.
Bybee’s time in 2019 (16:52.05) improved by a minute and 9.75 seconds, so he’s primed to make a big run at state come December.
Albuquerque Academy’s Justin Hickey
After placing in the top six in both 2017 and 2018, Justin Hickey just missed out on the 2019 4A state title. He took second overall at 16:09.05, just 4.30 seconds behind teammate and 4A champion Julian Garcia.
Garcia graduated this past spring, however, so Hickey has a chance to be the third boys runner since 2016 to win a state title for the Chargers.
Cloudcroft’s Max Preslar
After taking third place overall in the 2019 1A-2A boys state championships, Max Preslar’s title window is as wide open as one can ask for.
He twice fell short the previous two years because of Navajo Pine duo Galvin Curley and Michael Marshall — both of whom placed in the top two overall in 2018 and 2019.
Curley and Marshall graduated, however, so Preslar has an immediate shot at finally reaching the mountaintop.
And Preslar has ample time to bring home a state title. Two years, to be precise.
Zuni’s Kameron Eustace
Kameron Eustace is the lone returner from a squad that had six of its runners place in the top 10 in the 2019 3A boys state championships.
Eustace took fourth overall, up 18 spots from the 2018 state championships.
And he still has two more seasons to bring home more championship hardware for the Thunderbirds.
Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577 and on Twitter at @MattH_717.
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