ATC hop­ing to claim tro­phies at state meet

Santa Fe New Mexican - - SPORTS - By James Bar­ron jbar­ron@sfnewmex­i­

Tim Host can’t wait for Sat­ur­day morn­ing. The head cross-coun­try coach for the Academy for Tech­nol­ogy and the Clas­sics has high hopes that his pro­gram will bring home two tro­phies from the state Cross-Coun­try Cham­pi­onships at Rio Rancho High School. And he hopes he can gain brag­ging rights over one of the top pro­grams in the state.

The Class 1A/2A girls race should de­velop into a show­down be­tween the Phoenix and the Pe­cos Lady Pan­thers — some­thing that was clear be­fore the sea­son even be­gan. The cat-and-mouse game be­tween the two teams took an­other turn at last week’s Dis­trict 2-2A meet, when the Lady Pan­thers used the 1-2 fin­ish of eighth-grader Mis­ti­dawn Roy­bal and Vanessa Dominguez to fuel a 24-35 win over ATC for the team ti­tle.

“It is what is, what it has been and will be,” Host said. “We’re not go­ing any­where, and nei­ther are they. Let’s see who brings it.”

How­ever, Host sees hope that his boys team is run­ning well at the right time to not just get on the podium, but per­haps even pull off the up­set in the open­ing race of the meet. The race for the blue tro­phy ap­pears to be be­tween Navajo Pine and Pe­cos, but ATC’s per­for­mance in the dis­trict meet, in which it only trailed the Pan­thers 21-41, gave Host rea­son to think his team might sneak its way to the state ti­tle.

“It’s gonna be great,” Host said. “If they got out af­ter Pine, we’re go­ing to be there for the knock­out. We feel like we’ve been dis­re­spected and left out of the con­ver­sa­tion for a long time, and the boys feel like they have some­thing to prove.”

Mean­while, Pe­cos head coach Patrick Or­tiz was en­cour­aged by the Lady Pan­thers’ per­for­mance, es­pe­cially af­ter ATC out­pointed them at the Rio Rancho Jam­boree, 40-47, on Oct. 20.

“I think they’ve kinda fig­ured it out,” Or­tiz said. “We had some ad­di­tions, with Mis­ti­dawn join­ing our team and fit­ting in very well. She was not afraid of the com­pe­ti­tion and she came in and grabbed it by the horns, and took off.”

Class 3A

The shifts in teams from the re­cent round of clas­si­fi­ca­tion and align­ment might have brought some new names to the state meet, but one thing hasn’t changed — it will be a dog­fight among four or five teams.

In the case of 3A girls, it might be even more. Al­bu­querque Cot­ton­wood Clas­si­cal Prep, last year’s 2A cham­pion, con­sis­tently ran well at most meets to put it­self in the state race. Then, Cot­ton­wood Clas­si­cal fin­ished third in the 5-3A meet be­hind East Moun­tain and La­guna Acoma, al­though it was within seven points of the Lady Tim­ber­wolves.

Dis­trict 2-3A will bring its own host of chal­lengers with Las Ve­gas Robert­son, St. Michael’s and Santa Fe In­dian School. The Lady Car­di­nals won the dis­trict meet last week in Las Ve­gas, N.M., but the Lady Horse­men beat SFIS for sec­ond place by two points.

“Every­body is up in the air,” SFIS head coach Joe Cal­abaza said. “We don’t know what is go­ing to hap­pen [Sat­ur­day]. We just got to run.”

St. Michael’s should be at full strength, now that Lo­gan Hunt can fo­cus on run­ning af­ter the girls soc­cer team made a run to the 1A/3A ti­tle match Fri­day. Lenny Gu­rule, the Lady Horse­men head coach, feels like he has a good prob­lem in that he has four No. 1 run­ners in Hunt, Janai Clay­ton, Lon­don Lut­trell and Vi­o­let Eklund.

The key to suc­cess for the Lady Horse­men could come down to se­nior Lau­ren Cor­dova, who Gu­rule said has raised her level over the past few weeks.

“I al­ways felt Lau­ren could run bet­ter than she’s shown,” Gu­rule said. “She’s fi­nally done that the past cou­ple of meets, and that will go a long way. She’s not as far back [in the pack], and she’s run­ning pretty well.”

On the boys side, Zuni and La­guna Acoma went from stal­warts in 2A to stal­warts in 3A when it moved up, but Cal­abaza feels the Braves are in con­tention for a podium fin­ish — and maybe more.

One thing driv­ing the SFIS coaches was last year’s dis­ap­point­ment of miss­ing out on a podium fin­ish to West Las Ve­gas at the state meet. It’s just that the group of cur­rent Braves are not fa­mil­iar with that.

“The awe­some thing is we grad­u­ated four se­niors, but we’re back again with a young group,” Cal­abaza said. “They don’t re­mem­ber it, but we, as coaches, re­mind them of that.”

Class 4A

An­other year, an­other Academy-Los Alamos bat­tle for the top spot in 4A. The two teams have been breath­ing down each other’s necks for most of the sea­son, with Academy’s boys and girls usu­ally fin­ish­ing on top. How­ever, the gap closed sig­nif­i­cantly down the stretch, and the Los Alamos boys man­aged to beat the Charg­ers on the boys side at the Los Alamos In­vi­ta­tional.

The Lady Hill­top­pers and Hill­top­pers swept the 2-4A meet, with Taos tak­ing sec­ond on the girls side and Po­joaque plac­ing sec­ond on the boys side. The Lady Tigers, who won the last two 4A ti­tles in a six-class sys­tem prior to this year’s five clas­si­fi­ca­tions, are in the run­ning for a podium fin­ish be­hind a group of un­der­class­men, led by fresh­man Alyx Mas­tor.

Class 5A

Cap­i­tal and Santa Fe High did not qual­ify ei­ther boys or girls teams this year, but the Demons have a chance to get a top-20 fin­ish out of Brock McKin­ney, who took fifth place at last week­end’s 5-5A meet.

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