East Mountain High’s Amelia Johnson captured a silver medal, and Estancia High’s girls team had its best finish in four years at the high school state cross country championships Nov. 10 at Rio Rancho High School.

Johnson, who carved nearly two and a half minutes off her time from last year’s state competition, paced herself near the front of the pack for most of the Class 3A girls race.

During the final stretch, when eventual gold medal winner Skyler Gee of Sandia Prep kicked past everyone to take the lead, Johnson gave everything she had to finish second with a time of 20:20.6, a tad over five seconds behind Gee.

East Mountain’s Amelia Johnson, second from left, pacing with the front of the pack near the end of the first mile of the 3A girls race.

“My goal was to stay with Skyler, and when she passed me, I was about to give up,” Johnson said. “What made me kick it was my dad, I looked at him and he said, ‘C’mon, Mia!’ and in my mind I said, ‘Do it for your dad,’ and I started sprinting.”

Because Sandia Prep did not have enough girls to qualify as a team—each school needs a minimum of five—Johnson got the first-place score.

When runners compete individually, the score that corresponds to their overall finish reverts to a runner behind them who’s part of a team.

As a result, Marissa Case, who finished 15th overall, received the team points for 13th place to add to East Mountain’s overall scoring; teammates Kara Batie scored 24th; Mariana Sanchez’ neck-and-neck finish, just a tenth of a second ahead of the girl behind her, helped her score 32nd; and Natalya Villescas scored 51st. The five runners’ scores helped the Lady Timberwolves take sixth place as a team in the 3A girls competition.

Jaime Fastnacht churning along the second mile of the 2A race.

Similarly, in the Class 1A-2A girls race, Estancia’s Jaimey Fastnacht finished seventh overall but scored sixth for the team; teammates Jayde Perea scored 12th, Aliyah Padilla scored 31st, Jenna Fastnacht scored 37th, and Rori Griffiths scored 70th to help lift the Lady Bears to fifth place as a team—their best since winning the state championship in 2014.

Runners from other area schools who competed at the state meet include Mountainair High’s Sarajo Griego, who ran individually and finished 29th in the 1A-2A girls race; East Mountain’s Gabe Case ran individually and finished 38th in the 3A boys race; Mountainair’s Wyatt Greene finished 45th, and Andres Lovato— Estancia’s top finisher—came in at 60th in the 1A-2A boys competition.

East Mountain resident Abby Clarke of Manzano High finished 48th—44th for her team’s score—to help the Lady Monarchs take 14th in the Class 5A girls competition.Ovedio Lujan was Moriarty High’s top finisher in the 4A boys race at 70th. Moriarty’s Mimi Notah finished 71st in the 4A girls race.