The annual Class 5A cross-country meet is Saturday, Nov. 11, at Albuquerque Academy, where the Rio Rancho High School boys will be the favorite, seeking their second title in a row and fourth overall, led by newcomer Charlie Vause.

The Cleveland High School girls will also be seeking to repeat, albeit not as likely to repeat as the RRHS boys, because two-time state champ Leah Futey graduated CHS in May and is now running for Syracuse University.

The 5A boys race gets the starting gun at 10:50 a.m., followed by awards at 11:20 a.m. The 5A girls race starts at 11:35 a.m. with awards doled out 30 minutes later.

The RRHS boys’ and girls’ distance teams each won District 1-5A titles the afternoon of Nov. 3 at Atrisco Heritage Academy; it was the third district championship for each in the past four seasons.

“I am really proud of how our team is performing,” said second-year Rams coach Phil Keller. “Both teams are in high spirits, mostly healthy, focused and ready to go for state.  Of course, winning districts is a great accomplishment, and we are happy to have won the meet, especially with our challenging district.”

“Our boys had an off day at district,” CHS coach Kenny Henry said. “But, again, the goal of getting to state was met. If these guys run up to their potential at state, they can most definitely bring home a trophy. I am excited for their opportunity at state.”

Vause wins handily

Continuing his winning streak, with only one loss all season, Vause completed the course with a time of 15:57, 18 seconds before runner-up Cody Sullivan, his teammate and only runner to beat Vause all season.

The Rams, running away with a team score of 17, also placed three boys within the top seven: Mateo Herrera (third/16:18), Skyler Galbraith (fourth/16:25) and Collyn Tomoyose (seventh/16:40).

Also running for the Rams were Benjamin Miera (12th/17:14), Judah Sundheimer (22nd/18:27), Xavier Martinez (24th/18:45) and Matthias Parsons (27th/19:00).

Volcano Vista (53) was second and Cleveland (54) was third; Cibola (115) was fourth and the host school, AHA, didn’t field a full team (minimum of five runners).

The Storm also had two top-10 finishers: Vince Madalena (sixth/16:36) and Antwon Shendo (eighth/16:46). Rounding out the CHS point-getters were Lucas Espinosa (11th/17:09), Nuhkon Shendo-Smith (13th/17:22) and Johnathan Sanchez (16th/17:44).

Also racing for the Storm were Lucas Peña (17th/17:49), Preston Bean (18th/17:49), Jason Denison (20th/17:50) and Kyler Badwarrior (21st/18:22).

‘Beam me up,’ Rams girls

Volcano Vista’s Vyara Coriz won the girls’ race in 20:41, with five of the next eight finishers hailing from victorious Rio Rancho High School.

Abigal Beam was second in 21:05, followed by Mariah Galbraith (third/21:06), Lily Hawkins (fifth/21:14), Jordyn Griego (sixth/21:18) and Caitlynn Parsons (ninth/212:22).

Those finishes led to a team score of 25, followed in the same order as the boys’ race: Volcano Vista (44), Cleveland (51) and Cibola (120), and AHA not finding five to run.

Also running for the Rams were Brooke Chisholm (16th/21:46), Brianna Robson (18th/22:02), Danika Marquez (27th/22:56) and Mia Buford (30th/23:55).

The Storm, without their best runner (K.C. Winters) were led by fourth-place finisher Naomi St. Clair (21:10).

She was followed to the finish line by Marisel Yepa (seventh/21:21), Sarah Romero (11th/21:27), Erin Winters (14th/21:43) and Kiera Andreasen (15th/21:44).

Also running for CHS were Noelle Manzanares (19th/22:20), Meg <Mauerman (23rd/22:46) and Gwenna Dawes (25th/22:54).

“I thought our girls ran well at district,” Henry said. “Unfortunately, the final results didn’t reflect our true performance because a number of athletes got sent the wrong way during the race. The athletes who did go the wrong way had to come back and join the rest of the field and ended up finishing in a much different place than they would have. For us, I know it affected our team finish.

“But we did qualify to the state meet, which was the goal,” he added. “I think our girls have a real shot to bring home a trophy. I will be incredibly pleased if these girls do indeed earn a trophy because they will have done so without our top runner, who we lost a couple of weeks ago to a knee injury. It will speak volumes about these girls’ toughness.”

A look back

Strangely, perhaps, Rio Rancho High School’s first cross-country champion was the late Danyel Longmire, in 1997, the year the school opened. Yet in all the time that has passed, the Rams have never had another first-place runner, male or female.

The Rams boys won blue trophies in 2013, ’14 and again last year; the Rams girls won blue in 2008, 2016 and ’20.

As for Cleveland High School, under legendary coach Kenny Henry, the Storm boys have won six team titles (2011-12 and 2017-20) and had two individual state champs: three-time winner Luis Martinez (2010-12) and two-time champ Yonas Haile (2017-18).

The CHS girls, with four team titles (2011, ’15, ’17 and ’22), have had three state individual champs: Malia Gonzales (2011-12), a 2023 CHS Athletics Hall of Fame inductee; Amanda Mayoral (2015-17) and Futey (2019, ’22).

There is precedence for all four city teams returning home with trophies (first through third); it happened in 2021, when the Rams teams finished second and the Storm teams were third.

In seven other seasons, three teams came home with hardware, which happened last fall, when the Rams boys and girls were first and second, respectively, and the Storm girls were champs.

Now in ‘Orange’

Futey, one of three freshmen competing for Syracuse University’s distance team, was 23rd in her first race, the Harry Lang Invitational, and was 31st at the Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational. (9/8) in 31st place with a time of 22:32.8.

The 28th-ranked Syracuse women’s team was fourth in the recent Atlantic Coast Conference championships, two spots better than last year, led by a ninth-place finish from Savannah Roark. Futey did not run for the Orange in the ACC championship race.

Roark claimed All-ACC honors for the second year in a row following her performance.

Syracuse will compete at the NCAA Northeast Regionals Nov. 10 in the Bronx.