Hefting the state championship trophy, for the fourth year in a row, are the Storm’s distance runners, from left, Cody Toya, Chris Humetewa, Ricky Rangel, Jon Fragua and Caden Nunn. Gary Herron photo.

Holding up their new banner and the blue trophy are RRHS’s runners, from left, Tessa Holderman, Lorynn Trujillo, Marleigh Smith, Violet Francisco and Esther Cameron. Gary Herron photo.














ALBUQUERQUE — City of Vision cross country teams brought home three team trophies and claimed eight All-State runners last Saturday at the Class 5A state cross country meet at Albuquerque Academy — the first time the meet wasn’t held at Rio Rancho High School since 2005.
The perennial state champion Cleveland High boys team won the title for the fourth year in a row, and sixth time altogether. Rio Rancho’s boys were second.
The Rio Rancho High girls team, with all five runners finishing in the top 20, won the championship for the third time, having also won in 2008 and ’16. Cleveland finished sixth.

Futey unable to repeat

Leah Futey at the state cross country meet. Gary Herron photo.

Storm sophomore Leah Futey, the state champ in 2019, led the 61-runner pack early on the third-mile course but was unable to maintain her early lead and later catch winner Laurynn Sisneros of Eldorado.
After the race, her face still tear-stained, Futey said, “I was definitely trying to get a good start; I talked to a few people who said, ‘Just get out fast and the course is downhill, and go from there.’
“Hitting the first mile, my arms felt heavy, my legs felt heavy,” she said. “(Sisneros) pulled up ahead a little bit, about the first mile, I think; and then the gap opened up just a little bit more.”
That gap increased to about 100 yards as the two entered Richard Harper Memorial Stadium, where the race ended.
Sisneros’s time was 18:35; Futey finished in 18:57. But Futey was successful in holding off third-place finisher Tessa Holderman (19:30) of Rio Rancho. One week earlier, Futey and Holderman ran 1-2 in the four-team district championship race.
With only four, rather than the traditional first five, runners counting, the Rams’ winning team total (35) was helped by eighth-place finisher Lorynn Trujillo, Violet Francisco right behind her and Marleigh Smith in 16th place. Also running at state for RRHS was Esther Cameron (20th).
Also running for the Storm were Hanna Kiess (33rd), Jackie Crump (37th), Marina Weideman (40th) and Elise Toya (42nd).
City of Vision All-State runners — the first 10 finishers earn that designation — were Futey, Holderman, Trujillo and Francisco.
“I don’t think I can be more proud of this group of girls than I am,” CHS coach Kenny Henry said. “For most of them, their first-ever varsity races came just two weeks ago and here they were competing at the state championships.
“Six of the seven girls who ran at the state meet last year either moved or quit at some point this fall or winter before our season kicked off; the months of training, mostly on their own, and the constant disappointment of having our season postponed was too much for them to handle,” he said. “The five girls we had on the line this year never backed down from the obstacles that they faced this summer, fall and winter. They stayed true to our program and our school and I am so proud they were the five wearing our blue jerseys Saturday.  They worked really hard to be at this meet and then to finish sixth was truly a great effort on their part. … These girls are amazing and I hope they are as happy with a sixth-place finish as I am.
“Leah Futey was definitely disappointed to not defend her title, but it is hard to explain to a young sophomore in high school that even the best of the best have days that don’t go the way they would like,” he added. “Leah worked harder than anyone during the quarantine and is highly deserving.”
Finishing between the champion Rams and Storm were runner-up Eldorado, third-place Alamogordo, AHS in fourth place and fifth-place La Cueva.

Ricky, don’t lose that number

Ricky Rangel at the state cross country meet. Gary Herron photo.

After finishing second in the four-team district meet a week earlier, Cleveland High’s Ricky Rangel was second again, this time less than two seconds behind 5A champ Makua Harvey (15:49) of Piedra Vista, whose Panthers didn’t qualify for state after finishing third, behind Rio Rancho and Cleveland, in the new pandemic district.
There were 65 entries in the boys’ race, which got the starting gun at noon.
Rounding out the champion Storm quartet were sixth-place Chris Humetewa, 11th-place Jonathan Fragua and 22nd-place Cody Toya. Caden Nunn also ran for CHS; he was one spot behind Toya.
District champ Cebastian Marquez, finishing fifth, led the runner-up Rams. Dawson Gunn was seventh, Timothy Martinez finished 12th and Adam Donaldson was 20th, as the Rams were a scant four points behind the Storm — and a whopping 46 points better than third-place Alamogordo.
Coach Sal Gonzales’s son Gabriel also ran for RRHS, finishing 34th.

Bringing home blue never gets old
“Saturday was truly an amazing day for this group of boys,” Henry said. “In a normal year, you have the opportunity to race teams multiple times throughout the season and learn from the things you do well and the things that could be better; competing against a team a number of times truly allows you to see where you can make improvements.
“This year, no one got this luxury. We got one regular-season meet at Academy and we were very grateful to get to compete against a quality team like the Chargers,” he continued. “At that meet however, there was not another 5A school. Then we went right into district, and Rio Rancho ran incredibly tough to beat us on our own course — it hurt, but it might have been the best thing for our group because it was a wakeup call, a reminder that we had to have great efforts from everyone if we hoped to find ourselves on top of the podium at state.”
And although there wasn’t a literal podium, the team got its blue trophy and championship banner on the football field, in front of a bunch of fans seated in the grandstand.
“Every one of them ran great on Saturday,” Henry concluded. “I am super proud of this group of guys.”