Clovis seniors Brian Romero (left) and Jeremiah Clark stretch along with their teammates Wednesday at the school before heading to Ned Houk Park for practice. Photo by Eric Kluth
By Dave Wagner
Clovis High cross country coach Brian Stacy would gladly take a season-best effort from his boys squad in Saturday’s District 4-5A meet in Albuquerque, to be hosted by Eldorado High School.
If they come anywhere close, he’d still be pretty happy.
“If our guys run like they have every week — nothing different — then we have a good chance of winning it,” Stacy said.
At the same time, he said everyone is out to get the Wildcats.
“We’ve got the huge target on our back,” Stacy said. “Everyone’s going to say, ‘If you can beat a Clovis kid, you have a chance to go to state.’”
The girls race is scheduled for 1 p.m., with the boys to follow. Both races are five kilometers (3.1 miles), with the top two teams and 10 individuals in both advancing to state the following weekend in Gallup.
The senior-laden Cats have had an ongoing three-way battle for their No. 1 position most of the year between seniors Tyrell Northcutt, Brian Romero and Matt Appelman.
Stacy said senior Jeremiah Clark ran a strong race in last week’s Ruidoso Invitational, giving the Cats the possibility of four runners in the top 10.
“It’s going to be a good race,” said Romero, who moved from Clovis to Arlington, Texas, after his freshman year before coming back this fall. “Eldorado beat us by four points (in the Sandia Invitational), but we were without Jeremiah that time.”
Romero said he, Northcutt and Appelman actually compete against each other more than their opponents.
“That’s really my goal right there, to beat Matt and Tyrell,” said Romero, who finished second as a sophomore and first last year in district competition while at Arlington’s Sam Houston High School. “They’re really my competition.
“There’s an Eldorado guy whose pretty good, and we’re going to try to get him. But if we can’t, I’m confident we can go 2-3-4.”
Stacy said Manzano and Eldorado both have a couple of quality runners, but need strong showings behind them to compete for the title.
Rounding out the CHS team on Saturday are senior Chris Barela and juniors Chris Sawyer and Evan Buzzard. Stacy said senior Chris Mayer would make the trip as an alternate.
The Clovis girls, with only two seniors in the top seven, also have a trio at the top — sophomore Megan Willis, freshman Tori Northcutt and senior Melissa Clark. The Lady Wildcats are looking at trying to overhaul Eldorado for team honors.
“I think we can do it if we work hard and pull each other along,” said Clark, who ran a personal-best 21:01 for third place in the NMMI Invitational earlier this month, helping Clovis finish second behind Artesia.
Clark said Carlsbad’s JoJo Calderon is probably the runner to beat, but she thinks the Lady Cats can give her some competition.
“She’s just a few seconds ahead of us,” Clark said. “I think we can catch here. I almost beat her at NMMI.”
Also running on Saturday will be sophomores Monica Soto and Kelsey Wymore, senior Shonda Speck and junior Kristin Vick.
Stacy said the Lady Cats need strong fourth and fifth runners behind their top three if they hope to upend Eldorado.