The Los Lunas High School boys placed sixth in the 5A State Cross-Country Championships at Albuquerque Academy, just four points out of the top five.
LLHS senior Micah Sparks finished 20th, junior Eneas Armijo 22nd and eighth-grader Isaac Gonzales 31st.
“The race was really hard,” said Armijo, who has qualified for state each year since eighth grade. “The start was probably the hardest part, trying to get a good spot.”
Rio Rancho won the team title.
In the 4A boys’ race, Los Alamos was the team champion with Belen 13th. Julian Jarado had the best BHS finish at number 64, with Kyle Klodt 75th. Both are sophomores.
Valencia didn’t score team points but junior Victor Ramirez, a Jaguar soccer player, was 34th, and senior Colton Plant 70th individually.
The Los Lunas girls placed 14th at the 5A state meet, won by Cleveland. Senior Kiyah Padilla came in 34th to lead the Tigers. Senior Brynn Mora and freshman Sol Romero were next for LLHS in the field of 116 runners.
“There’s a lot of really good competition, which encourages you to try your best,” said Mora, who felt it was the best team effort by the Tigers this season.
For the 4A girls, Valencia did not qualify as a team, but freshman Francesca Otero was an impressive 13th. Otero is a soccer player who doesn’t train regularly with the Jaguars’ cross-country team.
“We had a positive outcome for the season, ending with most athletes running their best times,” VHS coach James Perez said about the district and state meets.
Los Alamos was the team champion with Belen in 11th place. The Eagles top runner, Lisette Sanchez, was unable to finish the race after battling the flu. BHS was led by sophomore Gabriela Jaramillo in 53rd place. Eighth-grader Linsey Sanchez finished 72nd.
Belen coach Fernando Sisneros said the Eagles, both boys and girls, are young with most of the runners returning next season.
“We are proud of them for all of the hard work they put in,” Sisneros said.
The running continues for some Los Lunas athletes. Mica Sparks and Kiyah Padilla will take part in the Green/Red All-Star meet for seniors this weekend at Cleveland High School.
The Tigers’ Isaac Gonzales and Eneas Armijo will compete in a companion race for underclassmen.
Mike Powers spent more than 40 years as a television news and sports anchor, mostly in the Albuquerque market. He has won numerous awards including New Mexico Sportscaster of the Year. He covers a wide range of sports, including the Valencia County prep scene.