Your state champion Cleveland High girls’ cross country team. (Herron photo)


ALBUQUERQUE – Leah Futey winning a cross country race isn’t a surprise, but at the Class 5A state cross country championships in the fall of 2021, she finished fourth after collapsing at the finish line – and that was a surprise.

On Saturday, Futey won state for the second time, having also won in 2019, and racked up her fifth fourth-or-better finish in her Storm career.

“There was medical stuff going on (in 2021),” the champ said, after turning in a time of 18:17, and hanging around the finish line to great her teammates as the Storm won the Western Sky Community Care state championship at Albuquerque Academy.

Teammate Eliana Rivera (seventh/19:15),also earned All-State honors for being among the top 10 finishers.

KC Winters (12th/19:38), Marina Weideman (17th//20:12) and Sophia Yepa (29th/20:50) rounded out the scoring quintet for Cleveland which won the team title with a team score of 60 points.

“It’s an amazing feeling, having both the individual and the team championship together in one,” Futey said.

Noelle Manzanares (31st/20:52) and Naomi St. Clair (33rd/20:55) also ran for the Storm.

Rio Rancho (85) finished second and Volcano Vista (91) was third in the 15-team race, which had 116 runners.

Futey recently committed to run at Syracuse University next season, helped in that decision by former Syracuse football player Brandon Darlington, an assistant coach on the Cleveland football team.

“He told me he loved it; he told me to go for it,” she said, adding she loved the campus and will study kinesiology there.

Here is a surprise: Storm boys fourth

The CHS boys, who won four years in a row (2017-20) and have six distance titles under coach Kenny Henry, came home without a trophy.

Rio Rancho (44), Volcano Vista (48) and Eldorado (104) ran 1-2-3, with the Storm (117) “out of the money” and in fourth place.

Antwon Shendo (seventh/16:22) was the lead Storm runner, followed by teammates Vince Madalena (19th/16:47), Colin Ross (33rd/17:20), Jonathan Sanchez (35th/17:21) and Preston Bean (36th/17:24).

Caden Nunn, who finished ninth at last year’s state meet and eighth at the District 1-5A meet, was back in the pack, 41st (17:35). Wequai Shendo-Smith (56th/17:55) also ran for the Storm.

There were 10 teams and 119 runners in the 5A boys’ race.