TOME — Valencia County’s high school cross country programs went head-to-head in a scrimmage Friday, with some of the runners who challenged the 5K course around the Valencia High School campus seeming to be in mid-season form.
The leading example was Belen’s Lisette Sanchez, who dominated the girls’ competition and will lead the way for the Eagles. Senior Anjelica Romero, a track athlete who is running cross country for the first time, looked strong as well.
Kyle Glodt and Julian Juardo had the fastest times for the Eagle boys at the scrimmage. Coach Fernando Sisneros has about 30 competitors in the program.
“They’ve been working hard. We had a good preseason,” Sisneros said. “We’ve been training pretty hard on the hills, preparing for the season opener at Jemez.”
Veteran Los Lunas coach Larry Padilla believes both boys and girls squads “are going to be a little stronger than we were last year,” pointing to more experience.
James Kilcullen is running cross country for the first time and led a one, two, three finish for the Tiger boys, along with Eneas Armijo and Isaac Gonzalez.
Sol Romero led the LLHS girls and, “As a group, they’re a lot closer together than they were last year — more balance,” Padilla believes. “Our pack time for the boys is probably going to be close to a 1:30, which is nice.”
Valencia has more runners competing this year, mainly freshmen and dual-sport athletes. That is good news for coach James Perez, who will try to “Keep them growing. Get them out there to get some miles in.”
VHS will count on soccer players a great deal. That includes Anna Hawkins, who had the Jaguar girls’ fastest time Friday, and Francesca Otero and Victor Rameriz, neither of which ran in the scrimmage.
Perez says new assistant coach Daniel Tallon has added enthusiasm to the program and is “a breath of fresh air.”
No team scores were kept in the scrimmage.
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.