Lady Cats thinking top three finish possible

By Dave Wagner

dwagner@cnjonline.com

Clovis High’s girls are hoping to do something the program has never accomplished in today’s Class 5A state cross country meet — bring home a team trophy with a top-three finish.

The Lady Wildcats are in a mix of teams likely to fight it out for third place behind favorites Eldorado and La Cueva in today’s race, scheduled for 11 a.m. at Rio Rancho High School.

The Clovis boys are slated to compete at 1:35 p.m.

CHS coach Mike Hankins said the girls, who finished sixth at state last year, appear to be a in a battle with Rio Rancho, Rio Rancho Cleveland and Volcano Vista.

“If you look at the courses run and the times, I think we fit right in there,” Hankins said. “This group’s not afraid of working hard. I just hope they go up and approach it right from a mental standpoint.”

Senior Rebekah Gallop leads the Lady Cats, and is hoping to improve significantly on her 47th-place finish last year.

“That’s my goal, top 10 or top 20,” she said. “We had four girls run under 20 minutes for three miles at (District 4-5A competition last week), which is something we haven’t done before.”

Gallop and three runners who split time with soccer this fall — sophomore Samantha Meza and freshmen Jaci Sievers and Catherine Hisel — form a formidable quartet. Hankins said the key may be whether or not one of the other three — junior Eva Marin, senior Dulce Velasquez or eighth-grader Kelsey McNaughton — can close the gap.

“We don’t have a superstar runner, but our team is really close together, which you really need,” Gallop said. “We definitely want to finish in the top five; that’d be really cool, but we’d like to get in the top three, of course.”

The boys will be hard-pressed to improve on last year’s ninth-place showing at state. Senior Max Santarosa has led the Wildcats all season and is hoping to improve on a 24th-place finish in 2012.

“I’m hoping, with a lot of the seniors that graduated last year, I can be in the top 10, or at least the top 20,” Santarosa said. “And it want to get in the 16s (16 minutes).

“As a team, no matter what place we come in, we’ve worked hard this year. We’re going to give it all we have.”

Other Cats runners include senior Danny Borwick; juniors Jeff Searcy, Joel Chavez, and Luis Badillo; sophomore Pablo Sanchez, and freshman Harrison Rikel.

“We’re just going to go out and race the best we can,” Hankins said of the boys. “I can’t say we’re going to be in the top five, but we’re going to leave it on the course.”