By Arnie Leshin
When Michael Tenorio won the state 4A cross country championship his senior year at Santa Fe Indian School, Christopher Humetewa was a freshman and Braves’ head coach Joe Calabaza was already thinking ahead.
“Oh yeah,” said Calabaza at the time, “he could be a good one, right now he’s in the learning stage, but shows potential.”
Right now Humetewa is a junior under Calabaza. He’s one of the top three harriers in the state, where Indian School is now in 3A, but he still has a tough road to take when the state championships are run Saturday, Nov. 9 in Rio Rancho.
“Sure, I think he has a chance to win it,” Calabaza said, “but he’s still got the kid from Zuni and the one from Cottonwood to contend with. Christopher was third last year behind the Zuni kid and just ahead of the Cottonwood kid.”
The winner, Epherem Zerai of Albuquerque Sandia Prep, has graduated, but Zuni’s Deshawan Goodwin and Cottonwood’s Justin Howey, are still in Humetewa’s path to a state title.
They haven’t seen Goodwin, but Humetewa and Howey have already raced several times his season in the same event, Humetewa winning at the Laguna-Acoma meet and Howey running second. Both ran in 18-minute time, but all cross country courses are not the same and only the state championship times matter.
At the John Grimley Memorial run hosted by Indian School, it was Howey first in 16:10.3 and right behind was Humetewa in 16:13.4. Humetewa did not run at the Jemez Valley Invitational won by Howey, and the latter did not run at the New Mexico Highland University meet won by Humetewa in 16:05.06.
Last Saturday at the Northern New Mexico Challenge run at Pueblo of Pojoaque Wellness Center, Howey was absent and it was Humetewa finishing first in 16:46.80. At state last year, he ran 16:42.45, Goodwin clocked 16:37, and Howey 16:44.15. Indian School finished second for the team title behind Zuni, 40-49.
Said Calabaza: “Chris’ strength is in the middle of the front pack. He does not have the greatest kick at the finish, so he needs to be in a position to out think his competition. He is a smart runner.”
Now it’s stretch run time. Coming up Saturday is the Rio Rancho Jamboree over the same 3-1 mile course run at state. Then comes the Friday afternoon, Oct. 25, invitational at Kirtland Central, followed by the Saturday, Nov. 2, District 4A run at the Santa Fe Prep course, and the last Saturday on the menu comes the week after at state.
Runner-up to Humetewa at the Northern New Mexico Challenge was Taos’ Eddie Duran in 16:59. Next came Cuba’s Osiris in 17:03, and fifth was St. Michael’s senior Justin Sanchez, who has improved each time out, clocked in 17:15.4.
The team winners centered on Los Alamos, which won the varsity with 72 points, 18 better than Taos, and Indian School was third with 128. Academy of Technology and The Classics scored 145 for fifth, St. Michael’s 230 for seventh, and Santa Fe High pieced together 238 for ninth in a field of 16 schools. The Hilltoppers ran 9th, 11th, 14th, 15th, and 23rd.
Mason Nichols was the Demons’ first finisher, taking 10th in 17:33, ATC had a best from 8th place Gonzalo Reyes, who clocked 17:28. With Braves’ junior Isaiah Velasquez not in the race, the second Indian School runner to finish was 19th place Ethan Vigil in the time of 18:02.
Los Alamos also dominated the junior varsity race by taking the first five places for 15 points, 80 ahead of the second place Braves, with ATC fourth with 129. Alex Vuyisich of the Hilltoppers ran first in 18:06, with 50 seconds separating him from his four other teammates.
Jalon Velasquez was the first Indian School finisher by racing 19:03 for seventh place. First for ATC was 20th place Eamon Berslama-Mikinly running 21:07.