Here are some New Mexico girls cross country runners to watch during the 2020 campaign

Matt Hollinshead,

Cleveland’s Leah Futey

Just two years into her tenure with the Storm, Leah Futey is a perennial state championship contender — taking second overall in the 2018 5A state championships and winning the 2019 5A state title.

Despite finishing behind 2018 state champion Jasmine Turtle-Morales by 25.05 seconds, Futey responded the following year by surpassing Turtle-Morales for the 2019 title by a 19.20-second margin.

Futey now eyes back-to-back blue trophies going up against a strong group of runners hailing from the Albuquerque-metropolitan area that also includes La Cueva’s Brynn Esplin and Eldorado’s Laurynn Sisneros.

Pecos’ Vanessa Dominguez and Academy Tech’s Maggie Rittmeyer

The duo went back-and-forth for 1A-2A state supremacy the previous two years.

Vanessa Dominguez beat Maggie Rittmeyer for the state title in 2018 by 11.05 seconds. Rittmeyer then exacted revenge, beating Dominguez for the 2019 state title by a mere 0.45 seconds.

Both enter their final seasons with their respective squads and look to conclude their tenures with two state titles.

Wingate’s Jewels Leslie

After finishing 35th overall at the 2018 3A state championships, Leslie cruised to a state title in 2019.

Leslie (19:34.75) beat Laguna Acoma’s Sidney Cheromiah by a 16.35-second margin.

Leslie was the first Wingate cross country runner in 17 years to win an individual state title, and now she looks to conclude her tenure at WHS with back-to-back state championships.

Taos’ Alyx Mastor

Alyx Mastor placed in the top four in each of the last three 4A state championship meets.

Each time, Mastor crossed the finish line within 30 seconds after the state champion, even finishing just 8.25 seconds behind 2017 state champion and teammate Ella Katz.

Can Mastor finally break through and bring home a state title?

She has two more seasons to do so.

Kirtland Central’s Aisha Ramone

Aisha Ramone also had a strong start to her tenure on the girls cross country scene, placing in the top-eight at state in each of her first two years.

She took eighth overall (19:42.15) at the 2018 4A state championships and followed up with a sixth-place finish (19:16.55) at the 2019 4A state championships.

Even after a rough start to 2018, during a time when she was recovering from an upper shin injury sustained playing summer league basketball, she quickly regained her strength and learned how to make that final big push approaching the finish line in races.

Ramone still has another two seasons to bring home a state title.

Kirtland Central's Aisha Ramone placed in the top eight at the 4A state girls cross country championships in each of the previous two seasons.

Farmington’s Kamalani Anitielu

After placing 26th overall (20:53.35) in the 2018 5A state championships, Kamalani Anitielu quickly ascended into the top 10 the following year — taking 10th overall at 19:40.60.

Because of her fast rise up the leaderboard in the previous two years, Anitielu could emerge as a dark horse contender in 2020.

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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