Allie Chipman uses a downhill stretch to build a little momentum and take over second place with a little over half mile to go in the race. Photo by Alan Versaw.
For the Colorado teams that made the trip down to Albuquerque this weekend, the waters tested proved to be fast and deep. And, it's not just that there's been a lot of rain in New Mexico the last couple of months. It's more that many of the top New Mexico teams have been busy getting better over the summer.
None of those teams, however, proved to be the equal of Jonathan Dalby's Vista Nation. Running a typically patient race, the Golden Eagles picked and squirmed their way through a very large field and very tight corridors left by the crush of fans lining the course. Well over 200 entries toed the starting line in the varsity boys race, giving Mountain Vista their second consecutive week of large meet experience. They have passed both tests with flying colors.
Midway through the race, Paxton Smith challenges Albuquerque Academy's Jordan Lesansee for the lead while eventual winner Niles Thomas lurks in the shadows. Photo by Alan Versaw.
Mountain Vista was led by Paxton Smith, who gained the lead about midway through the race and held it to about 2.5 miles before being overtaken by a trio of New Mexico's best--Niles Thomas, Aaron Valenzuela, and Jordan Lesansee. But, Smith's backside was covered nicely by Tyler Matzke in seventh, Ryan Currie in 13th, Addison Hellier in 16th, and Michael O'Sullivan in 21st. Smith's fourth-place effort stopped the clock at 16:26. O'Sullivan closed the Mountain Vista scoring a mere 34 seconds later.
At that point, no other school had more than two runners in the chute. And only a rush of Rio Rancho Rams in the next 10 places kept the team scoring as tight as it was.
The Classical Academy, led by Tanner Norman's 16:30 in fifth, would finish in eighth place out of 31 scoring teams. Peyton did not have enough varsity boys in the field to score a team.
If Mountain Vista and The Classical Academy came in with hopes of having things go mostly their way in the varsity girls race, those hopes would be quickly dashed. Quickest to lay down a message about the new feeling in New Mexico girls cross country was the decidedly young crew from Rio Rancho. If this team can keep advancing on the level where they are now, Rio Rancho could be in for a nice, long run of domination--and possibly domination that extends beyond the borders of New Mexico. Rio Rancho ran to an 11-point winning margin over Albuquerque Academy and also defeated defending NM 5A state champion La Cueva.
Mountain Vista, paced by Allie Chipman's second-place effort of 19:07, finished seventh. The Classical Academy, who lost front runner Maddie Mullen to a sprained ankle in the first half of the race, would end up in ninth. After Chipman, Colorado was shut out of the individual places until Mountain Vista's Madison Easton crossed the line in 27th. Hannah Williams led the TCA effort with a 20:31 in 33rd.
Mountain Vista brought only their varsity sevens down to Albuquerque to race. The Classical Academy, however, brought down the entire squad and earned a measure of redemption on the day with a decisive team title in the girls JV race.