Jesse Madrid (2002) is part of a deep roster of returning runners for Hobbs who figure to give the rest of New Mexico fits this fall. Photo by Alan Versaw.
Here we go! For the rest of the summer, we'll be taking a glance at the top boys and girls teams from each state, with an eye toward which teams will be most competitive at this year's edition of Nike Cross Regionals - Southwest. We will look at both all schools and small schools (< 1000 enrollment). A few schools will turn up on both lists, and you've probably already made a nomination for that honor from New Mexico.
It is by no means a given that all teams showing up in the rankings below will live up to expectations this fall (or that teams not showing up in the rankings below will not exceed expectations), but this gives us a least one excellent early window on which teams to keep an eye on.
New Mexico All Schools Boys Rankings of Returning Cross Country Runners (Top 8 Teams)
There really aren't many surprises on this list. Last year's strong teams appear to be this year's strong teams. Pecos will be one of the smallest schools to appear in any state's top eight. Los Alamos barely makes the top eight in something of a surprise. Most of us would have reflexively expected the Hilltoppers to check in at a higher position, but we're not done hearing from that team.
New Mexico All Schools Boys Rankings of Returning 1600 Runners (Top 8 Teams)
There's a reasonably good alignment between returning cross country rankings and returning 1600 rankings. There usually is--and typically more so than with 3200 rankings. Hobbs solidifies their position as the team to beat in New Mexico this fall. Eldorado and Albuquerque Academy climb the ladder at little at the expense of Rio Rancho and Cleveland. Aztec puts in a nice appearance on the list signaling, perhaps, a rise in the distance fortunes up in San Juan County.
New Mexico All Schools Boys Rankings of Returning 3200 Runners (Top 8 Teams)
Once again, Hobbs comes out on top. Not that it's a great surprise, but when we get to rankings of 3200 runners, it's all big schools and Albuquerque Academy. Few small schools have the depth required to put a lot of oomph into their 3200 rankings.
We now direct our attention to small school rankings. For the first time ever last November, NXR-SW had separate small-school races, giving the small schools a clean opportunity to measure themselves directly against one another. Participation in the small school races is expected to ratchet upwards this fall. It's possible I've missed some small schools creeping over the 1000 enrollment mark since last year, but I've not been able to do the kind of research needed to find those schools yet, so I'll use last year's lists of small schools.
New Mexico Small Schools Boys Rankings of Returning Cross Country Runners (Top 8 Teams)
If you know your New Mexico small schools, there is not a lot in the way of surprise here. Albuquerque Academy has long been one of the most competitive small school cross country programs in the entire nation. Pecos has been riding a nice crest of achievement the last couple of years. East Mountain has become a perennial solid entry. And so on it goes. Small school cross country is alive and well in New Mexico.
New Mexico Small Schools Boys Rankings of Returning 1600 Runners (Top 8 Teams)
The news here might be how much stronger the Pecos cross country program is than the Pecos 1600 program. This is a situation that bears watching. And, Taos makes a not-so-surprising appearance on this list.
New Mexico Small Schools Boys Rankings of Returning 3200 Runners (Top 8 Teams)
This more or less confirms that Taos is a team worthy of a spot on our small-school watch list. But, as we all knew going in, Albuquerque Academy is way ahead of the pack. It's entirely possible, and probably even likely, that Albuquerque Academy will once again be taking a spot in the regional championship race as a team. But, if not, they're an early favorite for the small school crown.