Academy of Technology and The Classics freshmen Maggie Rittmeyer and Kate Ferguson keeping pace with each other, as are St. Michael’s juniors Violet Eklund and Janai Clayton
By ARNIE LESHIN, Santa Fe Today
Taking them by class, in 3A, freshman Maggie Rittmeyer of Academy of Technology and The Classic, in 4A, juniors Janai Clayton and Violet Eklund of St. Michael’s along with sophomore Iris Emery of Santa Fe Indian School, and in 6A, senior Daisy Gephart of Santa Fe High, are on pace to do well at next month’s state championships.
Saturday, they all got to run on the same course as the championships, the Rio Rancho Jamboree at Rio Rancho High.
None have been crossing the finish ahead of the pack, but when you are racing 5 kilometers against 100 others, it’s all up to the individual to step up and finish where you may. These girls have been doing just that.
Rittmeyer has been quietly making strides as one of the best in her class. She and fellow freshman Kate Ferguson have been the one-two punch of the Phoenix. Where Rittmeyer finishes, Ferguson is close behind.
At state last year, Rittmeyer ran eighth in 21:15.15. In 11th was Ferguson in 21:20.30. This season, Rittmeyer’s top finish was the runner-up spot at the Ron Valdez Memorial Invitational in Pecos, racing 21:42.90 behind two-time defending state 3A champion Carly Gonzales of Penasco. In third was Ferguson in 21:43.15. Gonzales finished in 21:04.97.
That race was especially impressive for the Phoenix youngsters, for its no doubt Gonzales who they will be striving to beat at state.
The two took eighth and ninth, respectively, in the Rio Rancho Jamboree small school varsity. Rittmeyer clocked 21:49.20 and right on her heels was Ferguson in 21:51.40. Santa Fe Prep freshman Chelsea Griscom took 14th in 22:31.60.
While Emery has taken over as the mainstay of the Braves, Clayton and Eklund have been trading places since last season. Eklund was finishing ahead until the final meets when Clayton picked up the pace, running 18th at state in 21:03.30 and Eklund 20th in 21:03.55.
At the Desert Twilight Invitational in Case Grande, Ariz., it was Eklund turning in a ninth place time of 20:05.2. It wasn’t one of Clayton’s better races as she took 29th in 20:31.5. At the Espanola Valley Invite, Eklund ran third in 20:35, with Clayton fifth in 20:45.
At the Capital City Invitational, it was Eklund placing eighth in 21:30.18 and in 11th was Clayton clocked in 21:45. Clayton did better at the Taos Tiger Invite as she finished fifth in 21:15 and Eklund came in ninth in 21:39.
And Saturday at the Rio Rancho Jamboree, both were entered in the premier championship race and Clayton ran 37th in 21:23.10 while Elkund settled for 86th in 22:31.80 and was fourth-best of the Lady Horsemen.
Head coach Lenny Gurule will be depending on only five runners for state, Eklund, Clayton, sophomore London Luttrell, juniors Abbie Leugers and Lauren Cordova. Freshman Gabby Garcia is running distances for the first time and Gurule is hoping to pencil her in as the No. 6 runner.
Emery has been running well since eighth grade. She placed 24th at state in 21:24.80, ran 25:13 to take third at the Laguna-Acoma Invitational, was 13th
at the Capital City Invitational in 21:54.15, came in fourth at the Jemez Valley Invite and timed 24:34, and was seventh at the John Grimley Memorial by running 22:59.
She settled for 81st in 22:25.80 in the championship race at the Rio Rancho Jamboree.
Then there’s Gephart, who is in the big-school 6A and has the toughest task.
At state last year, she was the third Demonette finisher by running 42nd in 21:24.50, but she has taken over as number one her final season. She turned in a 21:39 to finish third at the Adron Gardner Invite, was fifth at the Capital City Invitational in 21:03.6, ran 12th at the John Grimley Memorial with a time of 23:09.
In the Rio Rancho Jamboree championship race, she was 43rd 21:34.20.
She was with the team that finished eighth at state. It lost senior Sierra Sweeney, but it returns senior Rue Allison, junior Judith Allison, sophomore Maya Holder and sophomore Brooke Guevara and has been running well as a pack.
Capital High has but two girl runners, senior Audrey Gonzales and sophomore Emma George who will be trying to qualify for state in 5A.