Young teams battle for 4-5A girls cross country title

By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer

In a three-team meet, Clovis High cross country coach Brian Stacy believes today’s District 4-5A girls race is between two teams.

“It’s going to come down to Carlsbad and us,” he said of today’s District 4-5A competition scheduled for Ned Houk Park. “It just depends on who decides to show up.”

The girls race is scheduled for 1 p.m. with the boys to follow at 1:30 p.m. Hobbs rounds out the district field.

The Lady Wildcats matched up against Carlsbad once this season, in the New Mexico Military Invitational at Roswell. In a battle of youthful teams, they beat the Cavegirls by one point 35-36.

Carlsbad freshman Brandi Castillo was the individual winner, with her twin sister Brittany finishing fourth.

Meantime, freshman Caitlin Waters and eighth-grader Michelle Schenck, both Yucca students, were second and third for the Lady Cats.

Schenck expects those four to duel again.

“I’m kind of nervous about the twins being there,” she said. “Me and Caitlin are planning to take off at the start and get out front.

“My goal is to try to stay up with Caitlin.”

She hopes to build on her season-best time of 19 minutes, 28 seconds in the team’s most recent outing Oct. 20 at Ruidoso, a meet Waters missed while nursing an injury.

“Last week I got a great time,” Schenck said, “and now I’m trying to beat that time.”

Stacy said while the Lady Cats want to win the meet, they are gearing more toward state competition next weekend at Gallup.

“Being district champs is not our (ultimate) goal,” he said. “I told the girls to just go out and compete, because we’ll be running against these same girls next week.”

He said it should be close, but added: “I think we’ll beat them because I think we’ll beat their fifth runner.”

Joining Schenck and Waters for the Lady Cats will be senior Monica Soto, juniors Tori Northcutt and Vanessa Croke, sophomores Laura Esquivel and freshman Kayla Merritt.

Carlsbad is the favorite on the boys side, Stacy said, adding that the Wildcats and Hobbs should be in a battle for second. Still, anything can happen and nobody should run away with it, he said.

“It’s going to be a good race because everybody’s average,” he said. “It’ll be anybody’s game.”

Senior Mike Wareham leads a Clovis boys squad which also includes senior Josh Worley, juniors Brian Croke and Luis Gonzalez, sophomore Bryan Davis and eighth-grader Cameron Waters.