It’s showdown time.
For the girls of Pecos and Academy for Technology and the Classics.
For the annual Albuquerque Academy-Los Alamos rivalry in boys and girls.
And for Chris Humetewa and Justin Howey.
Saturday’s State Cross-Country Championships have plenty of intrigue as teams converge on the course at Rio Rancho High School for the final meet of the season. While the perennial Chargers-Hilltoppers battle is a must-view for spectators, the race that Northern fans should watch is the Class 1A/2A girls tug-of-war between the Lady Panthers and the Phoenix.
Last November, Pecos won the state title 36-39, but ATC has dominated the rivalry this year. The Phoenix have consistently finished higher than the Lady Panthers when they have been at the same meet, but last week’s District 2-2A meet saw Pecos get within 26-29 as the two teams took 12 of the first 13 places.
Both teams also will be in the running to win the individual race, as ATC’s Maggie Rittmeyer and Pecos’ Vanessa Dominguez will battle it out. Last year, Dominguez won the individual crown and Rittmeyer was second, but they flipped positions at the district meet.
Of course, no meet would be complete without the two titans of 4A squaring off yet again. On the girls side, the Lady Hilltoppers flexed their muscles in beating the Lady Chargers 25-45 at the Los Alamos Invitational on Oct. 25, thanks to their top four finishers placing in the top six. Meanwhile, the two boys teams juxtaposed their positions as Academy won 25-46 as its swept the top three individual spots.
In Class 3A, the Santa Fe Indian School boys are chasing defending champion Zuni and are coming off a team win in the District 2-3A meet. Humetewa made it a clean sweep by running the 5-kilometer race at the Pojoaque Wellness Center in 16 minutes, 37 seconds. The junior will be among the individual favorites, and he has the perfect foil in Howey, the top runner for Albuquerque Cottonwood Classical Prep.
The key to the Braves’ team success will be their No. 3-6 runners. Junior Isaiah Dasheno had an encouraging race last week, finishing eighth overall and was SFIS’ third runner, and the scoring five ran within 1:36 of each other.
In 3A girls, the Lady Braves have a shot at a podium finish after winning the district meet with 40 points. Santa Fe Prep is also in the hunt, and buoyed by the performance of freshman Catherine Doscher, who was the top Blue Griffin as she finished fifth.
In 1A/2A boys, Pecos and ATC will also duke it out, but they will be fighting for a podium finish as opposed to a blue trophy. Last week, the Panthers beat the Phoenix by two points for the 2-2A title, and ATC head coach Tim Host expects it to be just as tight a battle between the two as they compete with Navajo Pine and Cloudcroft for the top three.
The state meet begins at 9:30 a.m. Saturday with the 3A girls race, following by 4A, 5A and 1A/2A. The boys will follow with their races in the same order.