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High School Cross Country

Santa Fe Indian senior Thomas Lucero, in his fifth year, is running his best cross country and has moved in among the leading harriers in 4A

Second place in personal-best 15:49 for Lucero in Saturday morning’s Northern New Mexico Challenge

Arnie Leshin

By ARNIE LESHIN, Santa Fe Today

It looks like Thomas Lucero has finally found his way.

Now a Santa Fe Indian School senior, Lucero has been running distances for the Braves since 8th grade. He was almost unbeatable than and heralded as a rising star.

But sometimes you are not as good when you reach the higher grades. His teammate Michael Tenorio became the team’s leading distance runner while Lucero was trying to keep up. Until now, he’s come up short.

Now he’s among the top cross country runners in 4A. He’s running his best times, has been hard at work practicing, has taken over as the team leader after state-champion Tenorio graduated, and has maintained his good grades.

“He’s more tuned in, running better,” said Braves’ head coach Joe Calabaza. “He’s taken charge, even holds meetings with the team.”

Saturday morning, over a flat 5-kilometer course that was easy to run, Lucero followed up a fourth place at last week’s John Grimley Memorial Invitational, by turning in a personal-best time of 15:49 and placing second at the annual Northern New Mexico Challenge raced over the San IIdefonso Pueblo course.

“He led most of the way,” said Calabaza. “and over the final 100 yards or less, he was caught and passed by the Pojoaque kid.”

The Pojoaque kid was junior John Hall, and he won in 15:48, but right on his heels was second place Lucero one second behind. Third place went to Elks’ senior Avery Torrez, who timed 16:02.

Pojoaque, one of the favorites to win state 4A, finished first with 30 points, with Indian School the runner-up with 53. Braves’ senior Coby Quintana came in seventh in 16:34 and junior teammate Jaden Aguino ran 10th in 16:41.

“Coby is another one who is really running well,” Calabaza said, “Jadin, too.”

The Elks took first, third, fifth, eighth and 13th.

The fourth spot went to Pecos senior Michael Montano in 16:07, and the Panthers scored 146 points for fifth place. Santa Fe High had 245 for eighth and in 10th was Academy of Technology and The Classics with 248.

ATC’s first finisher was senior Cole Ferguson, who took 28th in 17:40, and right behind him in 29th was Santa Fe High sophomore Luca Pacheco, and he also clocked 17:40 in what must have been a photo finish and ascloseasthis.

Calabaza said it was cool when the races were run in the morning, and that the course was pretty muddy after the recent rain.

“But it was good running weather,” he added.

In the junior varsity run, the team title went to the Braves with 29 points, with their Raheen Alonzo finishing first in 17 minutes. Indian School also placed sixth, seventh, tenth and twelve.

In the 2-mile middle school race, team honors handily went to Taos with 18 points.

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