The 2022 Class 5A state champion Rio Rancho High School boys’ distance team. (Herron photo)



ALBUQUERQUE — Yeah, it’s been a good first year so far as the boys’ cross country coach at Rio Rancho High School.

Phil Keller, who replaced longtime boys coach Sal Gonzales when Gonzales replaced retiring Athletic Director Vince Metzgar, watched happily Saturday as his rams took first place in the team standings at the Western Sky Community Care state cross country meet at Albuquerque Academy.

“It ain’t bad at all,” Keller said. “We were happy.

“The kids really trusted me. Coach Gonzales gave me this team, handed over the keys and I did what I do best and the kids trusted in me.”

He said junior Collyn Tomoyose, who was the first Ram finisher (fifth/16:13) was a surprise.

“He was our fifth guy at district, and he struggled and he was on the turf, crying. He thought he lost it for us,” Keller said. “And today, he went out and weas our No. 1 runner. And that’s been the strength of our team all year – we’ve got five strong boys and they run together, and any one could be our top runner, and they don’t care.”

Cody Sullivan (sixth/16:19) was sixth, Skyler Galbraith, the son of school board President Amanda Galbraith, was eighth in 16:23. Mason Steel (12th/16:35) and Mateo Herrera (13th/16:37) gave the Rams five of the first 13 finishers, good for a team score of 44.

Volcano Vista (48) was second and Eldorado (104) placed third in the 16-team race with 119 runners.

Benjamin Miera (38th/17:27) and Jace Lee (50th/17:43) also ran for the champions, who also won state distance crowns in 2013 and ’14.

Girls bring home the red trophy

Finishing a distant 25 points behind city foe Cleveland (60 to 85), the Rams girls settled for second, after finishing third a week earlier in the District 1-5A meet, behind the winning Storm and runner-up Volcano Vista.

“On the girls side, Abigail Beam (21st/20:19) had the run of her life and that gave us second,” Keller said. “Two of our girls (Lily Hawkins, 24th in 20:35, and Violet Francisco, 25th in 20:36) out-kicked Volcano Vista girls in the last 100 meters, and that was the difference between second and third.”
Danika Marquez (18th/20:14) rounded out the Rams’ scoring fivesome.

Jamie Hansana (44th/21:31) and Megan McMurtrey (58th/22:37) also ran for the Rams.

“We only lose one (senior) on each side, so we’ve got good things going on there (for the future),” Keller added.