La Cueva Cross Country

Run With The Big Bears

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Mackenzie Everett bided her time early, then dominated late, leading La Cueva with a 19:16 finish. Photo by Alan Versaw.

Out of the cave and onto the throne

By Alan Versaw / November 9, 2013 5:50 PM

All season long, it’s been all about Eldorado. Eldorado has been beating people with impunity. But, on this most important of days in the season, there came a usurper to the throne.

On the day when it counted most, La Cueva came up big and snapped Eldorado’s string of state titles. Out with the Eldorado regime;  in with the La Cueva regime.

But, you might not have realized anything unusual was up if all you looked at was the top ten. Eldorado was very comfortably ensconced in the top ten, with Crissey Amberg taking first, Cassey Amberg taking second, and Jessie Hix slipping into eighth. Orange has a way of showing up, and Eldo’s top three did what they needed to do.

Navy blue doesn’t show up nearly as well as orange, but La Cueva quietly grabbed a 3-4-5 courtesy of the efforts of Mackenzie Everett, Abigail Napier, and Tiziana Dehorney. Clearly, the Bears meant to make a fight of it, even if their school colors tend to blend in with the masses of singlets on the course.

Through three finishers each, Eldorado held an 11-12 advantage. While that’s a stronger showing than La Cueva had posted all season, Eldorado had been quietly effective at 4 and 5 all season long.

It was a bad day for that season-long pattern to slip a notch, as La Cueva was running spectacularly today at 4 and 5. Libby Weeks slipped in at 17th (16 team points) and Noelle Hendrickson at 24th (22 team points), throwing the challenge into Eldorado’s court.

Eldorado’s answer was a 20 and 29—and that would be not nearly good enough. The season is long and the hardware goes to the team that runs best at state.  And, on November 9, 2013, that team was the La Cueva Bears, by a score of 50 to 60.

While Nick Martinez’s crew was getting the best of the Eagles for the first time this season, there was another story of two of interest taking place as well.

Volcano Vista, a team that has been on a steady uphill climb all season long, took third behind the sixth-place effort of Rebecca Castillo.

Rio Rancho’s title hopes took a telling blow when Molly Klein, who had been running with Crissey Amberg in the lead in early stages of the race, dropped out of the race. The short-handed Rio Rancho team limped home in a very respectable fourth.

Top teams outside of the greater Albuquerque area were Clovis in sixth and Onate in seventh.

Prep cross-country:

La Cueva girls, Rio Rancho boys win 5A titles

By Vince Kong

RIO RANCHO – Cassey Amberg can’t stop chasing her twin sister, Crissey.

Eldorado’s Cassey Amberg, left, hugs her twin sister, Crissey Amberg, after competing in the state cross-country championships Saturday at Rio Rancho High. Crissey took first place, while Cassey came in second in the girls 5A race. (Marla Brose/Albuquerque Journal)

It’s a rivalry that began at birth. “She’s even a minute older than I am,” Cassey said.

But Cassey is gaining ground on her big sis, finishing just 21.25 seconds behind Crissey, as the duo from Eldorado took the top two spots in 5A at the state cross-country championships Saturday at Rio Rancho High.

“I am just overwhelmed with emotions right now,” Crissey said. “I’m so proud of my sister – running one and two at state, this is incredible.”

The Eldorado seniors, however, weren’t able to fend off the dark horse of the Class 5A girls meet, La Cueva.

After finishing second at last weekend’s District 4 meet, the Bears placed three runners – Mackenzie Everett, Abigail Napier and Tiziana Dehorney – in the top five to take the team title.

“We’ve been the underdog all year but we put it together for this meet,” La Cueva coach Nicholas Martinez said. Everett, Napier and Dehorney were all out of the top 10 in the first mile before attacking the climb near the 2-mile mark.

“Then the plan was then to open it up on the downhill, which they did,” Martinez said. “… It was just a beautiful day of running, racing and coaching. We also have five of our girls that ran today coming back. So the future looks good for La Cueva cross-country.”

And the future looks particularly good for the Rio Rancho Rams boys squad, as well. Led by freshman Devin Paredes’ third-place finish, Rio Rancho claimed the boys’ team title, finishing ahead of Cleveland, 54-70. While Rams coach Salomon Gonzales was expecting his group of predominantly underclassmen to make its mark at state in the years to come, he’s OK with being proven wrong.

“Devin, he’s been impressing us since Day One of the season,” Gonzales said. “We knew he had talent but we didn’t know what he had today. … What we’ve been talking about is that next year and next season are going to be our good years. But I’m fine with being good now.”

Paredes stayed with the lead pack for the entire race, led by Taylor Potter of Eldorado. And with Paredes and Cibola’s Chris Harlow in pursuit, the Eagles’ senior said he needed an extra gear simply to hang on to win the boys individual title.

“Devin and Chris pushed the pace real good and about two-and-a-half miles in, I had to make a move,” he said. “I decided to pick up the pace to see who would stay with me. But I was able to hold it.”

In 4A, Los Alamos pulled off the sweep, with the boys claiming their third-straight title and the girls earning their fifth. Hilltopper senior Collin Hemez claimed the individual boys title to lead the squad past Albuquerque Academy, 52-54 – its first win over the Chargers this season. St. Pius’ Kelli Reagan claimed the girls 4A individual title, but despite the Sartans placing three runners in the top 10, it wasn’t enough to stop Los Alamos, led by sophomore Nica Vasquez, who finished fifth.

“It was a wonderful day for our program,” said Los Alamos co-head coach Rob Hipwood, who leads the team with his wife, Kathy.

Taos was also able to pull off the sweep, claiming the boys and girls Class 3A team titles for the first time in their school’s history. Meanwhile, Sandia Prep’s Rachel Fleddermann and Pojoaque Valley’s Jereme Santistevan became multiple individual champs.

Jacqueline Katzman and Kendall Kelly finished first and second, respectively, in the 2A race to lead Bosque School to a third-place team finish behind winner East Mountain and Zuni. It was Katzman’s first title after suffering a disappointing third-place finish last season.

“That race was something I was definitely thinking about,” she said.

Laguna Acoma’s Isaiah Kelsey won the 2A boys’ individual title, with Zuni taking the team title.

Jemez Valley swept the 1A team titles. Desert Academy’s Taylor Bacon won the girls’ race; Graceway Christian’s William Charles won the boys’ race.

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 Team Huddle - Overjoyed

Team Huddle - Overjoyed

 Our Throne

Our Throne