By Arnie Leshin
While long-time Santa Fe High cross country coach Peter Graham is happy to see his two boys seniors leading the way, Santa Fe Indian School head coach Joe Calabaza is again showing off some of his youngest runners after this past Saturday morning‘s Los Lunas High Invitational.
But neither one of them could slow down team champion Organ Mountain and its runaway 35 points highlighted by senior Brett Bybee winning the 5,000 meters in 17:48.57, the only time under 18 minutes, and his teammates added 5-6-9-15 finishes to go with their sixth and seventh harriers taking 33rd and 42nd.
Second place went to Las Cruces Centennial with 72 points. The Demons placed sixth with 149 and the Braves next with 182. Santa Fe High had a combined total of 20:23.90 and Indian School 21:03.07.
It took six other schools to finish behind Bybee before the Demons and Braves showed up.
For Santa Fe High, it was senior Mason Nichols coming in 11th in 18:59.10, and senior Tanner Black three spots behind in 19:03.75. After that came senior teammates as Bluebird Askan took 43rd in 21:16.20, Matthew Chavez a step behind in 21:16.40, and in 49th was Ethan Garcia, the No. 5 runner, in 21:23.98, and then came freshman Valin Wittenberg placing 67th in the time of 22:43:64.
Calabaza, meanwhile, had his first finisher, freshman Jeremiah Chavez, take 24th in 20:09.01. Next came freshman Matthew Valencia running 33rd in 20:45.73, and right behind in 35th was Braves senior, Russell Coriz, turning in a 20:51.22, and them came 8th-grader Brian Madalena running 21:19.05 for 45th, and in 56th was No. 5 runner, freshman Zayden Luarie racing 22:10.23.
The No. 6 racer, senior Kanliga Ramone, wound up 59th and clocked 22:31.09, and the next SFIS harrier, senior Stephen Pecos, was three places behind Ramone in 22:47.32.
“We’ve got a mixture of seniors and freshmen,” Calabaza said, “and we have depth with the underclassmen.”
This was a field of 79 in the varsity race, and with nine schools competing with full squads.